Countable & Uncountable nouns (1)
Nouns can be countable or uncountable. When you learn a new noun you should make a note of whether it is countable or uncountable as we use different words with countables and uncountables.
- There is a cat in the garden.
- There are some birds in the trees.
For positive sentences we can use a/an or some (with a plural verb form)
- There isn’t a dog in the garden.
- There aren’t any birds in the tree.
For negatives we can use a/an or any (with a plural verb form).
- Is there an orange on the tree?
- Are there any chairs in the garden?
- How many chairs are there?
In questions we use a/an, any or how many.
- There is some milk on the floor.
Uncountable nouns have no plural. The verb form is singular and we use some.
- Is there any sugar?
- How much wine is there?
In questions we can use any or how much.
Other expressions of quantity
- There are a lot of apples on the trees.
- There is a lot of snow on the road.
A lot of can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.
Bill Gates has much money.
Notice that we don’t usually use ‘much’ or ‘many’ in positive sentences. We use ‘a lot of’.
- Bill Gates has a lot of money.
- There’s a lot of beer but there isn’t much wine.
- There are a lot of carrots but there aren’t many potatoes.
We use not many with countable nouns and not much with uncountable nouns.
Some nouns can be both countable and uncountable, depending on how they are used, and some nouns are commonly confused. These are covered in another section.
In English grammar, words that refer to people, places, or things are called nouns. They can be classified in many ways.
One way to classify nouns is according to whether they can be counted or not. Many English mistakes are related to this point. By reading through this page, you will understand:
- what countable and uncountable nouns are
- how to use them correctly in a sentence
Countable (or count) nouns are words which can be counted. They have a singular form and a plural form. They usually refer to things. Most countable nouns become plural by adding an ‘s’ at the end of the word.
Uncountable (or non-count) nouns are words which cannot be counted. Therefore, they only have a singular form. They have no plural forms. These words are thought of as wholes rather than as parts. They usually refer to abstractions (such as confidence or advice) or collectives (such as equipment or luggage).
Using Countable & Uncountable Nouns
When using countable or uncountable nouns, pay attention to articles and adjectives! Some articles and adjectives can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns. However, others can be used with only countable or only uncountable nouns.
|Used with Countable Nouns Only|
|a||a doctor, a pen, a meal, a class, a college|
|many||many cups, many books, many libraries, many flights|
|few||few questions, few tables, few apples, few holidays, few countries|
|a few||a few questions, a few problems, a few issues, a few issues|
|Used with Uncountable Nouns Only|
|much||much money, much time, much food, much water, much energy|
|little||little trouble, little equipment, little meat, little patience|
|a little bit of||a little bit of confidence, a little bit of sleep, a little bit of snow|
|Used with Countable & Uncountable Nouns|
|the||countable||the monkeys, the schools, the teachers, the boats, the bananas|
|uncountable||the cheese, the machinery, the luggage, the grass, the knowledge|
|some||countable||some tables, some stores, some grapes, some cities, some nurses|
|uncountable||some time, some news, some bread, some salt, some mail|
|any||countable||any forks, any socks, any bathrooms, any waiters, any beliefs|
|uncountable||any advice, any soap, any transportation, any gold, any homework|
|no||countable||no magazines, no chocolates, no pilots, no rings, no markers|
|uncountable||no trouble, no grass, no scenery, no money, no furniture|
|a lot of||countable||a lot of animals, a lot of coins, a lot of immigrants, a lot of babies|
|uncountable||a lot of help, a lot of aggravation, a lot of happiness, a lot of fun|
|lots of||countable||lots of computers, lots of buses, lots of parties, lots of colleges|
|uncountable||lots of cake, lots of ice cream, lots of energy, lots of laughter|
|enough||countable||enough plates, enough onions, enough restaurants, enough worries|
|uncountable||enough courage, enough wisdom, enough spaghetti, enough time|
|plenty of||countable||plenty of houses, plenty of concerts, plenty of guitars, plenty of|
|uncountable||plenty of oil, plenty of sugar, plenty of cheese, plenty of space|
List of Uncountable Nouns (These are sample uncountable nouns only! There are many more.)
- ice cream