COUNTABLE AND UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS

Countable nouns are for things we can count

Examples

dog, horse, man, shop, idea.

They usually have a singular and plural form.

Examples

two dogs, ten horses, a man, six men, the shops, a few ideas.

Uncountable nouns are for the things that we cannot count

Examples

tea, sugar, water, air, rice.

They are often the names for abstract ideas or qualities.

Examples

knowledge, beauty, anger, fear, love.

They are used with a singular verb. They usually do not have a plural form. We cannot say sugars, angers, knowledges.

Examples of common uncountable nouns:

  • money, furniture, happiness, sadness, research, evidence, safety, beauty, knowledge.

We cannot use a/an with these nouns. To express a quantity of one of these nouns, use a word or expression like:
some, a lot of, a piece of, a bit of, a great deal of…

Examples

  • There has been a lot of research into the causes of this disease.
  • He gave me a great deal of advice before my interview.
  • They’ve got a lot of furniture.
  • Can you give me some information about uncountable nouns?

Some nouns are countable in other languages but uncountable in English. Some of the most common of these are:

accommodation
advice
baggage
behaviour
bread
furniture
information
luggage

news
progress
traffic
travel
trouble
weather
work

BE CAREFUL with the noun ‘hair’ which is normally uncountable in English:

  • She has long blonde hair

It can also be countable when referring to individual hairs:

  • My father’s getting a few grey hairs now

See also Adjectives – Comparisons of quantity


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