If you were a JAMB candidate and you were asked to choose between ‘property’ and ‘properties’ in the above context, what would be your answer? That billionaire Otedola has a lot of property or properties – considering all his enormous wealth? Interestingly, the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UTME), organised by the Joint Admission Matriculation Board, will be held in about a month.

The fact is that knowing how rich the man is, you could be tempted to choose ‘properties’, as you would not want to call all his billions, palatial houses, big cars, bubbling companies, etc. just ‘property’. Unfortunately, you would NOT be right if you thought so because ‘property’ is a word that is not always countable. A lot of people, indeed, find the term slippery as they do not know when it is countable and when otherwise. The following sentences indicate the correct possibilities:

I wonder how Forbes values the property of Aliko Dangote and Mike Adenuga knowing how rich they are – with all the assets at home and abroad. (Correct)

The thieves made away with all the company’s property. (Correct)

I want to sell my property in Harmony Estate, Abuja. It is a three-bedroom apartment. (Correct)

My brother also has three properties in the estate. (Correct)

The teacher identified the properties of the chemical solution.

Ewedu is said to have a lot of medicinal properties.

When ‘property’ refers to the thing or things that someone owns, it is uncountable. No matter how voluminous or highly valued such are, they are all called ‘property’. This means that it is not normally pluralised:

The property seized from the former governor is worth N100bn.

I learnt that he bought his private jet after he sold all the government’s property in his care.

‘Property’ can also mean a real estate object like land or building. In this circumstance, it can be countable or uncountable. So, it can be pluralised when it is more than a unit:

The agent says there is a property for sale in Lekki.

The agent says there are five properties for sale in Lekki.

The word can also refer to components or qualities that make up a substance. When it does, it is plural:

We all watched with awe as the expert analysed the properties inherent in the solution.

I explained all the medicinal properties of bitter kola to my child but he still doesn’t want to eat it.