Language tip of the week: damage

Posted by on June 13, 2013

Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. These tips are usually based on areas of English which learners find difficult, e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, etc.

This week’s language tip helps with the noun damage:

When damage means ‘harm or injury’ it is an uncountable noun, and so:
▪  it is never used in the plural
▪  it never comes after a or a number
✗ These toxins can cause damages to the lungs and brains.
✓ These toxins can cause damage to the lungs and brains.
✗ They should consider the serious damages that their decisions may cause.
✓ They should consider the serious damage that their decisions may cause.
A great damage has been done to agriculture, forests, and people’s health.
Great damage has been done to agriculture, forests, and people’s health.

The plural form damages is a specialized legal term meaning ‘money that a court orders you to pay someone because you have harmed them or their property’.
Mr Galloway was awarded substantial damages.

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