Countable and Uncountable Nouns in English Grammar
It's important to know if a noun is countable or uncountable, because this is going to tell us if we use or not use words, like 'a' in front of a word.
Countable and Uncountable Nouns
One way to categorize nouns is according to whether they can be counted or not. It's important to know the difference between these two categories, because errors with countable and uncountable nouns can result in errors with article usage and with subject verb agreement.
Countable nouns can be counted, for example one potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, etc. They have a singular and a plural form. The singular form comes after the determiner "a" or "an".
There are two notebooks in your bag .
Using a number before a nouns makes it obvious to be countable.
I have one apple and two sandwiches . Do you want some ?
After number 'one' you can never use a plural countable noun.
Uncountable nouns cannot be counted, for example butter, water, rice, etc. Uncountable nouns are used with a singular verb. They usually do not have a plural form.
I'll make some coffee .
Some is a term that is used to refer to a specific amount.
There isn't any sugar left .
Any as well is word which is used to refer to zero amount in negative sentences.
Countable and Uncountable Nouns: Questions
If we want to ask about the quantity of a countable noun, we use "How many?" combined with the plural countable noun.
If we want to ask whether something exists or not, we use 'Is/Are there any/a/an?'
Are there any eggs ?
If there is a countable noun after 'any' it must be used in plural form. As the example 'eggs'.
Is there a book on the shelf ?
For a singular noun, a singular verb exists.
How many cookies do you want ?
How many + a plural countable noun
If we want to ask about the quantity of an uncountable noun, we use "How much?" combined with the uncountable noun.
If we want to ask whether something exists or not, we use 'Is there any?'
How much rice is needed in this dish ?
how much + uncountable noun
Is there any milk left ?
Any + uncountable noun . To ask the existence of an uncountable noun.
Some examples of uncountable nouns are:
- Ideas and experiences: advice, information, progress, news, luck, fun, work
- Materials and substances: water, rice, cement, gold, milk
- Weather words: weather, thunder, lightning, rain, snow
- Names for groups or collections of things: furniture, equipment, rubbish, luggage