Business can be a singular or plural count noun, and
also a noncount noun.
As a count noun, businesseswith an es
endingis the plural of business. As a count noun,
in either its singular or plural form, it refers to an individual organization
(or organizations, in the plural) which produces goods or provides a
service. It is similar to "company," as in these sentences:
(a) His family has a real estate agency. It's a good business.
(b) Barbara and John are looking for a small business to
(c) When the street was closed because of construction, several
of the businesses suffered heavy losses in revenue.
As a noncount noun, business has a more abstract meaning;
it refers to the idea of commerce as in these sentences:
(d) Business is bad these days.
(e) Betty majored in business.
(f) George Bush studied business at Harvard.
Many nouns can be both count and noncount, as in sentences (g) and
(g) Marisa has had a lot of rewarding experiences
teaching handicapped children.
(h) Marisa has had a lot of experience teaching
Sentence (g)with experiences as a count nounrefers
to individual experiences, the many separate experiences, that Marisa
has had teaching handicapped children.
Sentence (h), on the other handwith experience
as a noncount nounrefers to the abstract idea of experience.
When you use experience in this way, you are not thinking
about each experience individually, but the total idea
The noun light is another example:
(i) One light in our kitchen ceiling keeps burning
out; we're replacing all our kitchen lights with
a new kind.
(j) Light is necessary for plants to live.
Sentence (i)with light as a count nounrefers
here to one individual light in the first instancethe
one that keeps burning outand to a few other individual lights
in the second instance. These lights can be
visualized and counted. Sentence (j), on the other hand, refers to light
as an idea, an abstraction.
Similarly, the word business appears as a count noun
in the more concrete sense, and as a noncount noun in the more abstract
Here are some idiomatic expressions with the word business
as a noncount noun:
(k) Now we're in business.
(l) Don't fool around with himhe means business.
(m) You should make it your business to find out
what really happened.
(n) A lot of dot.com companies went out of business.
(o) I didn't ask him because it's none of