Learn English » Grammar » Countable and Uncountable Nouns
You have learnt about nouns, common nouns and proper nouns, and singular and plural nouns by now, haven’t you? In this lesson, we are moving on to another way in which nouns can be classified: countable and uncountable nouns.
Countable nouns are nouns that can be counted. For example, ‘car’ is a countable noun. You can count one car, two cars, three cars and so on. Countable nouns have both singular and plural forms (e.g. car/cars; country/countries; book/books; cat/cats; woman/women; friend/friends; teacher/teachers; table/tables). In the singular form, they are preceded by a or an. In plural form, they take ‘many’. For example, 1 friend, 10 friends, many friends.
If you want to ask about the quantity of a countable noun, you ask "How many?" combined with the plural countable noun. For example, How many books do you have?
Examples of countable nouns in sentences:
We have four cats.
My brother owns a house.
How many friends do you have?
I would like two pens please.
Uncountable nouns, on the other hand, cannot be counted. They do not usually have a plural form. They cannot usually be used with a number. It is not possible to say 1 water, 2 waters etc.
Examples of uncountable nouns include water, money, meat, milk, juice, soil, rain, advice, weather, baggage, behavior, bread, news, trouble, furniture, accommodation, information, luggage, progress, traffic, travel, work and wood.
Uncountable nouns are not preceded be a or an. Abstract nouns such as anger and happiness are typically uncountable.
The following are examples of sentences using uncountable nouns.
There is a lot of money in this wallet. (Not 100 money)
There is some milk in the jug. (Not 2 milk)
Uncountable nouns take ‘much’ instead of ‘many’.
To express a quantity of an uncountable noun, use a word or expression like some, a lot of, much, a bit of, and a great deal of.
In other cases, expressions such as a cup of, a bag of, 1kg of, 1litre of, a handful of, a pinch of, an hour of and a day of.
If you want to ask about the quantity of an uncountable noun, you ask "How much?"
There is too much money in the house. Be careful.
There has been a lot of research into the causes of this illness.
My father gave me a great deal of advice before my marriage.
Can you give me some information on the holiday trip?
Please give me a cup of water and a teaspoon of salt.
How much fruit juice do you want?
Is there any case when you can count uncountable nouns such as money, milk and meat?
Yes, there is. You have to use the units of measurement such as currency, litre, kilo, and glass.
10 dollars ( but not 10 money)
2 litres of water (but not two water)
3 glasses of milk (but not 3 milk)
3 kilos of meat (but not 3 meat)