A more complete information

Damien Hall halldj at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Sat May 22 18:11:05 UTC 2004

What do people on this list think about whether *information* is countable?  I
got the following in a University-wide e-mail recently.


Join your fellow students for a more complete information about what is
already underway and ways for students to become involved.  Oh, and there
will be pizza, too.


My own feeling is that *information* is not countable in the normally-used
sense.  *OED* lists several uses where it is countable, but they are all either
'Obs.' or legal usage;  *Merriam-Webster* doesn't list it as countable at all.
Google and Google Groups hits for "an information" are almost all "an
information x", of course, where *information* is used attributively and *x* is
*superhighway*, *specialist* or something.  Of the five hits in the top hundred
of each search where *information* is genuinely countable, four are probably
from non-native speakers of English and one is in a legal sense.

I know that *information* is countable in French;  I'm reliably informed that it
isn't in Spanish.  I'm tempted to ascribe these countable uses of the word in
English to non-native error (the University message above wasn't signed, so I
can't tell who wrote it), but I wonder whether people here have come across the
use in native English.

Damien Hall
University of Pennsylvania

More information about the Ads-l mailing list