Countable and Uncountable Nouns

by | Apr 1, 2020 | Grammar For IELTS

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Difference between Countable and Uncountable Nouns:

Countable Noun Uncountable Noun
a. Generally have a singular and plural form:

  • eg. a window, lots of windows

NOTE: Some countable nouns only have a plural form:

  • eg. clothes, trousers, jeans, scissors

b. take a singular or plural verb form:

  • The window is big.
  • The windows are big.

c. can be replaced by a singular or plural  pronoun:

  • I’d like that desk; it‘s better than mine.
  • It’s got shelves as well. They‘re really handy.

d. can be measured with weights and measures:

  • two kilos of potatoes

or numbers:

  • Its got three drawers.

e. can be used with a/an:

  • a desk, an apple
a. Cannot be plural:

  • eg. advice (not advices), furniture (not furnitures), data

NOTE: Some uncountable nouns look plural but they are not:

  • news, economics, physics

b. Take only a singular verb form:

  • The natural light is really nice.

c. Can be replaced by a singular pronoun:

Marry:`What shall we say about the furniture?’

John: `Well, it’s not luxurious but it is very comfortable.’

 

d. Can be measured with weights and measures:

  • two kilos of sugar

or with words like; a piece of, cup of, bit of, slice of

  • a piece of information

e. Cannot be used with a/an:

  • information (not an information)

 

100 Common Uncountable Nouns
List of 100 common uncountable nouns:
  • accommodation
  • advice
  • air
  • alcohol
  • art
  • beauty
  • beef
  • behaviour
  • blood
  • bread
  • butter
  • cheese
  • chewing gum
  • chocolate
  • coffee
  • confusion
  • cotton
  • education
  • electricity
  • entertainment
  • evidence
  • experience
  • fiction
  • flour
  • food
  • fresh air
  • furniture
  • gold
  • grass
  • ground
  • happiness
  • history
  • homework
  • honey
  • hope
  • ice
  • information
  • jam
  • juice
  • knowledge
  • lamb
  • lightning
  • literature
  • love
  • luck
  • luggage
  • meat
  • milk
  • mist
  • money
  • music
  • news
  • noise
  • oil
  • oxygen
  • paper
  • patience
  • pay
  • peace
  • peanut butter
  • pepper
  • petrol
  • plastic
  • pork
  • power
  • pressure
  • progress
  • rain
  • research
  • rice
  • sadness
  • safety
  • salad
  • salt
  • sand
  • shopping
  • silver
  • snow
  • space
  • speed
  • sport
  • steam
  • success
  • sugar
  • sunshine
  • tea
  • tennis
  • time
  • toothpaste
  • traffic
  • trouble
  • trousers
  • vinegar
  • washing up
  • water
  • weather
  • wine
  • wood
  • wool
  • work

2. ‘Some’ and ‘Any’:

Some

1. is generally used in positive statements:

  • There are some shelves above the desk.

2. can also be used in questions and particularly in requests and offers:

  • Would you like some biscuits?

3. means ‘an unspecified (not large) amount’:

  • It would be great to get some money to help with the rent. (we don’t know how much money)

NOTE: We use some of with other determiners (e.g. my, the, these) to refer to a particular group:

  • Some of my students have part-time jobs.

 

Any

1. is usually used in negatives and questions:

  • My desk hasn’t got any drawers.
  • Has your desk got any drawers?

2. can also be used in positive statements to mean ‘it doesn’t matter who/which/where/when’:

  • Call me any time if you need further help. (= it doesn’t matter when you call)

NOTE: We can also use no + noun to mean the same as not … any.

  • My desk has got no drawers. (= my desk hasn’t got any drawers)

We use no when the noun is a subject:

  • No applicants had the necessary experience for the job. (not Not any applicants.)

Words like something/anything, somebody/anybody, etc. follow the same rules as some and any.

3. Quantities

We can use the following words to say how many or how much:

Plural Countable Nouns Uncountable Nouns
Everything

 

 

Large quantities

 

 

 

Medium Quantities

 

 

 

Small Quantities

 

 

Nothing

  • all (of)

 

  • Lots of/Plenty of/ A lot of
  • Many (of)
  • Most (of)
  • a large/considerable/substantial number of

 

 

  • Some (of)/ a certain number of

 

 

  • (a) few (of)
  • a small/limited/tiny number of

 

 

  • no/not any/none of

 

  • all (of)

 

  • lots of/ plenty of / a lot of
  • Much (of)
  • Most (of)
  • a large/considerable/substantial amount of

 

 

  • Some (of)/a certain amount of

 

 

  • (a) little (of)
  • a small/limited/tiny amount of

 

 

  • no/not any/none of

A few and a little are different from few and little.

Compare:
  • Few rooms have such good natural light. (= not many, so you are lucky)
  • We have a few rooms available with a sea view. (= a small number)

 

  • Little research has been done in this area. (= not enough)
  • A little research has already been carried out in this area. (= a small amount)

NOTE: We use a few of with other determiners (e.g. my, the, these) to refer to a particular group:

  • A few of the rooms have a sea view.

Lots of / a lot of are less formal than much/many:

  • There are lots of advertisements for accommodation in the paper.
  • Many scientists believe that global warming is having a negative impact on our climate.

NOTE: We do not usually use lots of with negative statements:

  • We don’t have a lot of/much time so we’ll have to be quick. (not we don’t have lots of time).

NOTE: We do not usually use much in positive sentences:

  • I found a lot of information on the Internet. (not much-information)

Grammar extra:

Nouns that can be both countable and uncountable:

Sometimes the same noun can be either countable or uncountable depending on the meaning (e.g. light, room, cake, time). Materials and liquids can also be either (e.g. glass, paper, coffee, wine).

Compare:

  • The natural light is really nice. (uncountable)
  • Both of the lights in the ceiling are really old. (countable)
  • There isn’t much room for a desk. (uncountable = space)
  • We have two spare rooms. (countable = rooms in a house)
  • Do you drink much coffee? (uncountable = in general)
  • I’d like to order a coffee, please. (countable = a cup of coffee)

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