There’s no such thing as “a training”. You either receive training – a general, uncountable noun – or take a training course. You can’t “follow a training” or “give a training”.

It’s one of those cases where the Dutch usage of an English word is in fact different to the native usage. Use:

  • the uncountable noun with no article for education and instructions in general, e.g. “all staff receive training in first aid“. This could mean anything from one lesson on the day they join through to refresher courses every year
  • a training course or just a course for a number of related lessons, e.g. leading to a qualification
  • a workshop, a training session, a lesson or some other such synonym for a single element in the course

Not quite sure how to classify this one: fake English because it’s an English word used wrongly? A valse vriend because the meaning of the Dutch isn’t the same? A grammatical issue of plurals and uncountable nouns? I’d better put it in all of them, I suppose, so that searching the categories will always work.

Prevalence: moderate. A common one on corporate websites and in CVs in particular.
Frequency: high. The confusion is widespread when the word turns up.
Native: no. Although I have seen it – perhaps changing under the influence of so many non-natives using it that way!

Published by Mike Wilkinson

Twenty years of translating and editing Dutch into English, as well as writing and publishing in English.

5 thoughts on “Training

  1. Not 100% sure, but I think this is classified as a pseudo-anglicism – a loan word gone wrong, so borrowed from English but not used in the way a native speaker would use or recognise it. Like Germans talk about wearing ‘a body’ instead of ‘a bodysuit’.

    But there is debate on whether training can be plural. I dislike ‘trainings’ but it’s becoming more widespread, especially in US English. And if we begrudgingly accept in time that you can arrange “three trainings” instead of “three training sessions”, then perhaps “a training” will become the singular. Thankfully, we’re not at that point yet!

    Thanks for all the hard work, Mike. I enjoy the daily email.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I’ve seen it turn up in US English too, as I said at the end (though I’ve not always been certain it’s from native speakers). One of my sidelines is localizing EN-US to EN-GB, by the way, so I’ve generally got a fair picture of US-UK differences – but languages are dynamic and changing all the time; you’ve got to go with the flow!


    1. Yeah, I expect there’ll be a few things like that here and there – intended as an informative site for just a few minutes’ effort a day. But by all means point them out + I’ll make the corrections! Thanks.


  2. The same topic came up on one of my Facebook groups in a different guise today: the use of “an education” (in the sense of a training course). That again doesn’t work – “education” is not a countable noun.

    (“An education” turns up as a single noun for your entire school career, but that’s different: a well-rounded education, a good education, an education that was a bit thin on the sciences, etc.)


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