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a shit

“That’s such bull-shit.” Here you have no article; not “a bull-shit”.

“He gave me shit.” Here, too, you have no article.

“I don’t give a shit.” Now, why do you have an article here?

  • November 21, 2002
  • Posted by Dyske
  • Filed in Grammar

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Merge is correct. It's shortened to be coloquial. Just like when people say "Don't give me attitude" instead of "He has a bad attitude." But the reason why there is no article is because in the first two cases "shit" is used to sort of describe the situation or how bad something is. Whereas in the third example, "shit" is used as a noun, as in a physical thing, just like you could use "I don't give a rat's ass". In the first two, bull-shit and shit are used to illustrate the degree of negativity.

purpledragon_13 November 23, 2002 @ 2:59AM

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Could perhaps the "I don't give a shit" use the word "shit" in the verb form rather than the noun? As in "make a run for it". Just MHO.

bobbygeorge31 January 18, 2003 @ 11:57AM

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I just tought of one more. What is the plural form of shit? Yes! A piece of shit. So, "that is bull shit" wouldn't need an "a" in it. Since it is shit in the plural form. Or am I completely wrong here? And of course it is shortened from "(a load) of bullshit" or any other modified to the uncountable noun.

bobbygeorge31 January 18, 2003 @ 12:00PM

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this is such bullshit
--means that this thing has the property of bullshit

this is such a bullshit
--means that this thing is the same as bullshit

for example
he is red = his color is red...perhaps he is very hot.

he is a red = he is a communist

the difference between all your examples is whether you are describing the object or acting on the object. a descriptive form could be i dont give shit = i give nothing. whereas an action would be i dont give a shit = i dont care. each has a different meaning.

if you think shit is a difficult word, i think you would love this article

yourmanstan July 2, 2003 @ 10:59PM

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I think stizzous is close but maybe this could be explained a little better.

The first comment is exactly right: "This is bullshit" is a metaphor implying that the thing in question is similar to bullshit. Since bullshit has little value, the implication is that the object of discussion similarly has little value.

In the second instance, I think there an implied word has been left out. "He gave me shit" is basically the same thing as "He gave me some shit". Shit, in this case, is a substance, not an object. It's an uncountable noun as you like to say here. An article wouldn't make sense.

In the last instance, we're talking about an object, not a substance. "I don't give a shit" is talking about a particular shit, that is to say, the results of a session of shitting; a turd. It's a particular thing and deserves an article for that reason.

joachim August 26, 2003 @ 9:13AM

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Nouns can often be used in both count and noncount senses. It could be argued that "dog" is strictly a "count" noun, but (in the memorable words of my linguistics prof) how about in this case?
"Rounding the corner on my bicycle, I saw a Volvo encounter a poodle in the worst possible way. All it took was two seconds, and WHAM! -- dog all over the road."
Wouldn't the three instances of "shit" fall into these categories?
And sorry, Merge, but your comments are the worst kind of wrong.

wordsmith247 August 28, 2003 @ 8:23PM

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It has to do with whether it's treated as a substance or as an object. Most nouns are either one or the other: 'chalk' and 'water' are substances (you can't say 'a chalk' or 'a water'); 'piece' and 'body' are objects (so you can say 'a piece of chalk' or 'a body of water', but not 'it was full of piece,' or 'I was covered in body').

'Shit' can be used either way. So we can talk about 'a shit' when we mean a particular turd, or just 'shit' when we're talking about the substance.

"That's bullshit" and "He gave me shit" = shit as a substance
"I don't give a shit" = shit as an object (still a weird way to phrase it)

There are still odd things about colloquial phrases like those, though. How about, "I took a shit." Shouldn't it be, "I left a shit"?

wrongbook September 16, 2003 @ 6:32PM

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My two cents worth:

There are at least two forms of the word here. If you can substitute the word "nonsense" in the sentence, then don't use the article. If you can insert the words "piece of" before the word in question, then use the article "a". If neither word will quite do, it depends on context.


"Don't tell me that, man, that is just shit/nonsense."

"Look, I really don't give a [piece of] shit, you [piece of] shit."

"I wanted to get high, so I got this guy to sell me some shit." (Drugs, American vernacular)

"That explanation is for shit." (Not sure where the "for" comes in, but you can use "nonsense" for the phrase.)

speedwell2 April 12, 2004 @ 11:02AM

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The word shit could be considered a slang term for feces could it not? If that is true then trying to figure out the correct plural of shit is impossible because it would not follow the same rules as the rest of the Engligh language. Therefore; I would think that anyway you wanted to use this word would infact be correct, somewhat similiar to the usage of the "F" word, often used as a noun, a verb, an adjective, etc.

devilmoon1 July 19, 2004 @ 6:33PM

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when and how to use would and could?
with examples

chandrumath August 18, 2005 @ 11:05AM

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