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Countable and Uncountable Nouns

by | Mar 22, 2020 | English Grammar | 0 comments

In this post we look at the English countable and uncountable nouns. It is very important that you know the difference between these nouns otherwise you may end up using incorrect sentences.

A noun usually refers to a person, a place or a thing.

There are a number of ways to classify nouns and countability is one of them. Let’s take a look at them one at a time.

Countable Nouns

Anything you can count is a countable noun. For example: 1 book, 2 books, 3 dogs, 4 cars etc.

Rules!

  • Countable nouns can be singular or plural
  • You can use the articles with a singular countable noun
  • Do not use a singular countable noun alone. Always use a, an, my etc.
  • Plural countable nouns can be used alone.

Example sentences!

  • I bought a car yesterday.
  • The conditions were horrible.
  • Roses are beautiful flowers.
  • Our teacher is very good.

Uncountable Nouns

Uncountable nouns are nouns that we cannot count. Sometimes it’s not easy to decide whether a noun is countable or uncountable. Luckily there are some rules here too.

Rules!

  • Uncountable nouns cannot be plural and only have one form.
  • Do not use a number with uncountable nouns.
  • Normally we cannot use the indefinite articles (a, an) with uncountable nouns, but we can add certain words to express quantity e.g. a litre of orange juice, a bowl of rice. This way we can add plural concept to an Uncountable noun.
  • You can use much and little with an uncountable noun. e.g. I eat too much sugar. or We still have a little work to do..

Example sentences!

  • Can I borrow some money?
  • Meat contains more protein than anything else.
  • Petrol is getting more and more expensive.
  • You don’t drink enough water.

Nouns in the following categories are usually uncountable

  • Mass nouns: usually liquids or gases such as water, oxygen, beer, blood, air etc.
  • Study areas: economics, literature etc.
  • Groups: food, news, information, fruit etc.
  • Natural phenomena: fog, snow, sunlight etc.
  • Languages: English, French, Chinese etc.
  • Diseases: measles, flu, chickenpox etc.
  • Sport: Football, soccer, basketball, hockey etc.
  • Some specific words: accommodation, advice, anger, behaviour, baggage, bread, chaos, countryside, courage, damage, furniture, information, luck, luggage, music, news, peace, permission, progress, scenery, seaside, shopping, traffic, trouble, truth, weather, work.

Some, any, many, few

We can use some or any in a sentence with plural countable nouns. For example: I have some cars. or Did you eat any apples?

Some and any can also be used with uncountable nouns. For example: Did you buy any furniture yesterday?

We can use many and few with plural countable nouns. For example: Sarah has a few things to do and then she can play.

Countable and Uncountable Exercise

Decide whether the noun used in the sentence is countable or uncountable!

Bill has got a car.
Countable
Uncountable

Correct!

Wrong!

You shouldn't drink too much beer.
Countable
Uncountable

Correct!

Wrong!

Our new accommodation is too expensive.
Countable
Uncountable

Correct!

Wrong!

Chris has a new dog.
Countable
Uncountable

Correct!

Wrong!

There is no more water in the river.
Countable
Uncountable

Correct!

Wrong!

Do you like cheese?
Countable
Uncountable

Correct!

Wrong!

Do you want some cake?
Countable
Uncountable

Correct!

Wrong!

I made a cake yesterday.
Countable
Uncountable

Correct!

Wrong!

I like tea.
Countable
Uncountable

Correct!

Wrong!

The oil is very expensive.
Countable
Uncountable

Correct!

Wrong!

Would you like some coffee?
Countable
Uncountable

Correct!

Wrong!

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