"suitable" vs "right"


Please have a look at this paragraph:

It’s very difficult to know the worth of something compared with other goods. So we have to have something for exchange. Gold, a very precious metal, was a … material.

a. suitable
b. right

=> Do we have to choose “suitable” because there is the article “a”? Or is it just because of the meaning? If it’s for the latter reason, then I can’t understand very clearly since I think the word “right” also has the meaning of “suitable”.
I came across this in a children song:

“Oh a family is people and a family is love That’s a family They come in all different sizes and different kinds But mine’s just right for me …”


Hi nessie,
I’m having a hard time thinking of an example when “a right [noun]” works.

Does this dress look right? I just can’t find the right pair of shoes for this dress. I had trouble finding the right answer. (But I had trouble finding an answer that might be right.)

I think that “right” caries more of a sense of uniquely suitable, so there is ONE right [noun], making the THE right [noun], and not "a right [noun].

I’m sure there are exceptions.

That’s it, Bard. I also have the same idea :stuck_out_tongue: about the choice of “suitable” in stead of “right” here :slight_smile: I’m just not sure if it’s correct :stuck_out_tongue:

By the way, in you post you typed “I had trouble finding the right answer. But I had A trouble finding an answer that might be right” => Could you please tell me why in the former sentence you used “trouble” as an uncountable noun while in the latter you used it as countable noun?

Many thanks

Oh! Because I’ve made a mistake (which I have now fixed)! I was going to say “I had a hard time” and then thought I should keep them parallel, but didn’t fix what I started to write. If people do this in writing, you can imagine how mixed up our speech is!

Did you intend to compare Barb with Shakespeare, Nessie? :smiley:

Then we’re even in the “typo” contest! I’d love to be compared to Shakespeare!

It’s lucky you fixed the typo, Barb. We would have seen it used as evidence in another thread that “I had a trouble finding an answer” was perfectly standard AmE…


[color=violet] :lol: :lol: Haha! sorry for my typo, everybody :stuck_out_tongue: I don’t know why but I always type “Bard” instead of “Barb” :oops: (other times I realized it right away but last time… :oops: :lol:
I intended to fix it, but then Barb said she liked to be compared with Shakespeare, so I think I’d better keep it intact :lol:

[color=blue]However I still have a query: I’ve heard that “trouble” is an uncountable noun, but when I looked up in the OALD and the Longman Dictionary, both say that it can also be a countable noun:

◆ financial troubles
◆ She was on the phone for an hour telling me her troubles.
◆ Our troubles aren’t over yet.

So I just want to know if the word is used in both ways, then is there any way to distinguish when to use which?

[color=violet] :roll: :roll: [size=59]uhm… what do you mean, MrP? :roll: :roll: [/size]

Hi Nessie

Generally speaking, the word ‘trouble’ is used only used “countably” as a plural noun. When used this way, it suggests multiple individual problems or difficulties.
However, I doubt you’ll ever find someone literally counting them. In other words, I would generally not expect to hear this in AmE:
“We had [color=red]12 troubles last week.” [size=134][color=red]X[/size]

[size=84][color=green]I suspect MrP was referring to a certain forum Member who seems to believe that typos are examples of intentional and “typical” usage.[/size] :lol:

Yes, it’s known as the Many Wordls Interpretation of orthography.


Nope nope nope! NOT standard! I promise.

I’m somewhere in the middle in the descriptionist/prescriptionist spectrum, but I can’t say that “any statement by a native speaker is evidence of a usage’s acceptability.” We still make tons of typos!

Just make sure you don’t call me “Brad” - unless Janet, Rocky, and Dr. Scott are there too.

[color=green]Uhm… I still can’t get it very clearly, Amy.

[color=green][size=59]“A certain forum Member”? Hic, it’s not another “you know what” trouble, is it? :wink: [/size]

Hi Nessie

A noun is grammatically “countable” if you can add an S to the end and make it plural. However, people do not generally use the word ‘troubles’ with a specific number. So, in that sense, the word ‘troubles’ is still technically “uncountable”.

The word ‘troubles’ suggests individually identifiable problems whereas ‘trouble’ is more general.

What about this, Amy:

  • I think there’s some trouble with my PC
  • I think there’re some troubles with my PC

=> Actually I just wonder about the use of “some” with uncountable noun. Technically speaking, when the word “some” is used with a noun, it somehow means “more than one”, but I think it’s OK to use “some” with a non-count noun…

Hi Nessie

If you want to indicate that there are specific individual problems on your PC, I would say that troubles would be unusual, but OK in your sentence. It would be more common to say something like “I’m having some trouble with my PC”.

The word some is not a number, and it does not refer to a specific quantity. It can be used with both count and non-count nouns. It does not necessarily mean ‘more than one’. It refers to an amount which is not specifically defined, but which is less than 'a lot/many/much."

Just one more question, Amy: when the word ‘some’ is used with a singular count-noun, is it a must to use the noun in plural form?

Many thanks

Hi Nessie

Please keep in mind that some nouns can be used both countably and uncountably.

Very generally speaking, you can use ‘some’ with a plural countable noun, and you can use ‘some’ with a singular uncountable noun.

There are other specialized usages, however. For example:

  • Hey John! There is some guy on the phone, and he claims to be your long lost brother.
    The use of ‘some guy’ basically means that there is a particular guy on the phone, but also suggests that the particular guy is unknown to the speaker.

  • That was some party last night!
    The use of ‘some party’ basically means that the party was extremely good. (Depending on the tone of voice, this might also be used ironically to mean that the party was really bad or disappointing.)