Countable and uncountable nouns
What are COUNTABLE nouns?
Countable nouns are all things that we can count. For example, we can count the number of apples in a basket, or a number of eggs in a crate:
4 apples/12 eggs
Countable nouns have a singular or a plural form:
A pen – pens (notice we don’t use articles a/an in plural form)
Countable nouns can use singular or plural form of a verb:
Your car is fast.
Your cats are fast.
The cow eats grass.
The cows eat grass.
We use articles a/an with singular countable nouns only: an apple/an egg/ a book
We can also use “the” with singular or plural countable nouns.
Please refer to the lesson on “THE” to revise how to use it correctly.
2. What are UNCOUNTABLE nouns?
Uncountable nouns are things that we cannot count. For example, can you count rice or water? No, it’s difficult!
If you don’t know, if the noun is countable or not, remember that uncountable nouns are:
Liquids/gases: oxygen, milk, juice, water
Materials: gold, wool, wood
Abstract ideas: art, friendship, love, music
Things made of small parts: sand, flour, salt, sugar
Some food items: jam, fish, meat, bread
REMEMBER these uncountable nouns: luggage, information, work, furniture, advice, news, money
Uncountable nouns have only one form (no plural form): milk (NOT milks)
They always use the singular form of verbs: Water is good for you (NOT Water are good for you)
You cannot use a/an or a number before an uncountable noun:
rice (NOT five rice/a rice)
3. If you want to count uncountable nouns, you can use these expressions:
A bar of chocolate (five bars of chocolate)
A cup of tea/coffee (two cups of tea/coffee)
A glass of water/soft drink (three glasses of water/soft drink)
A jug of juice (four jugs of juice)
A bowl of pasta/rice (six bowls of pasta/rice)
A bottle of milk (seven bottles of milk)
A bag of flour/rice/sugar/peas (nine bags of flour/rice/sugar/peas)
4. How to use ANY/SOME with countable and uncountable nouns?
We use ANY/SOME with countable/uncountable nouns.
SOME is used in affirmative sentences: She wants some cheese.
ANY is used in negative sentences: Tom doesn’t want any cheese.
ANY is also used in questions: Do you want any apples?
We can also use SOME in these types of questions:
- We want to suggest something: Why don’t we try some of your cake?
- We want to ask for something: Can I have some pears?
- We want to offer something: Would you like some coffee?