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I have been looking at how nouns behave with determiners and plurals and such. So things like mass, count, and collective nouns. One oddball that I have found is "weather", and I am wondering if there are other words like it in English. I am thinking specifically of the general sense of weather, whether(*ahem*) it is sunny or cloudy or fire and brimstone is pouring down out of a tornado. As opposed the sense of weather meaning rain or wind or anything marked, like "There's going to be some weather on the weekend".

So I have come up with a list of test sentences and I wonder if anybody can think of other words that can substitute for weather in all of them and still be valid or invalid as the case may be. Abstract words like "music" almost work, but "weather" seems to require some amount of specificity unlike "music". For example #3 would be valid if "music" was used. And so would #5 if you said "Listen to music!"

Is this a unique word? Also, am I still mixing up different senses of the word here?

  1. The weather is terrible.
  2. This weather is terrible.
  3. *Weather is terrible.
  4. Look at the weather!
  5. *Look at weather!
  6. *This planet has many weathers.
  7. *This planet has much weather.
  8. It looks like the weather will be good today.
  9. It's great to have some nice weather for a change.
  10. Interesting weather is on the way.
  11. *Weather is on the way.

Notice that it is enough to specify "weather" with just an adjective or some + ADJ. This seems like a unique property.

EDIT I believe the uniqueness of "weather" can be demonstrated in just these three sentences:

  1. *This is weather.
  2. *These are weathers.
  3. This is nice weather.

"Weather" can not stand on its own as a singular or a plural, but with an adjective it can. In fact the the first two sentences are sufficient. I can't think of any other noun that can't stand on its own in a NP as either singular or plural. I think that when an adjective modifies "weather" it takes on a different sense, the same sense as "There's going to be some weather on the weekend". Even if it is just mild weather or nice weather it is still something that can come and go as opposed to THE weather.

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  • I don't really understand what you think is particularly unique about the word weather. – curiousdannii Aug 28 '14 at 4:06
  • Well, if you can think of other words that work like it then that is what I am looking for, but if you can't then I guess it is unique. Did you have trouble understanding everything I wrote? Did you downvote the question? – Moss Aug 28 '14 at 4:19
  • Do you want another word that will have exactly the same set of grammatical and ungrammatical sentences? Or do you want to know something about the underlying reasons why. – curiousdannii Aug 28 '14 at 4:23
  • I am going on the assumption that words fall into certain classes like mass and count nouns, or proper and improper? nouns. I have analyzed a number of nouns and most of them fall into clear groupings but "weather" is especially difficult. The ultimate goal would be work out what lexical semantic factors are at play in determining the grammaticality of noun phrases. A word like "weather" defies attempts at making nice general rules, but maybe it will also reveal something that otherwise wouldn't have been noticed. – Moss Aug 28 '14 at 4:37
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    As for "luck is on the way" I'd say that's the other sense of luck, short for 'good luck' (just as you discounted the other sense of weather, which is short for 'bad weather). As for being able to possess it, We had great weather all weekend is fine to me, as is I live in Hawaii; our weather is really boring. – musicallinguist Aug 28 '14 at 20:27

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