27 Jan Common Error 34: using ‘experience’ as a noun
Chinese speakers often have problems with the countable and uncountable forms of ‘experience’. For example:
- I have a lot of work experiences in accounting and retail sales.
- Firstly, the experiences of older people make them valuable assets in the workplace.
In English, the countable form of ‘experience’ is used when you are talking about a particular incident or incidents that affect you. For instance:
- When I travelled to Paris, I had many amazing experiences, like climbing the Eiffel Tower.
- Traumatic experiences, such as having a car accident, can have lasting psychological effects.
However, we use the uncountable form when we want to talk about knowledge or skills that are acquired by doing, seeing, and feeling things. The correct versions of the sentences above are:
- I have a great deal of work experience in accounting and retail sales.
- Firstly, the experience of older people makes them valuable assets in the workplace.