Language tip of the week: progress

Posted by on November 22, 2012

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

This week some advice about the noun progress:

Progress is an uncountable noun, and so:
▪  it never comes after a
▪  it is never used in the plural
The 20th century has brought about a tremendous progress in science.
✓ The 20th century has brought about tremendous progress in science.
✗ During the last two centuries, technology, medicine, and psychology have made great progresses.
✓ During the last two centuries, technology, medicine, and psychology have made great progress.

Q. How can I refer to a single instance of progress, rather than to progress in general?
A. You can just use progress on its own:
✓ They have made considerable progress.
You can also talk about an advance (advance is a countable noun) or, when referring to an action that improves a situation, a step forward:
✓ Biochemists interested in nutrition laid the foundations for the next major advance in the treatment of cancer.
✓ The law was an important step forward in child protection.

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Comments (1)
  • Useful tip, although you can actually have ‘a’ preceding ‘progress’ and use it in the plural if it’s used in the sense of a Royal Progress – the monarch travelling through their realm.

    Posted by London Copywriter on 23rd November, 2012
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