Countable and Uncountable Nouns

It's important to know if a noun is countable or uncountable. This is going to help us to use the correct article. Let's learn more.

"Countable and Uncountable Nouns" in English Grammar

What Do We Mean by Countable and Non-countable Nouns?

We can categorize nouns into two groups, based on whether they can be counted or not:

  1. countable nouns
  2. uncountable nouns

Countable Nouns

'Countable nouns' can be counted, for example, one potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, etc. Countable nouns are categorized into two groups.

There are two notebooks in your bag.

In this example, using a number before a noun makes it obvious that it is countable.

I have one apple and two sandwiches. Do you want some?

Uncountable Nouns

'Uncountable nouns' (also called mass 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.

There isn't any sugar left.

How much rice is needed in this dish?

Types of Uncountable Nouns

'Uncountable nouns' are categorized into two groups based on whether they can be touched or not.

Abstract Uncountable Nouns

Abstract nouns cannot be sensed, touched, or seen. So, check out these groups of abstract uncountable nouns to understand them better.

  • gerunds: nouns such as swimming, eating, dancing, playing, etc, are considered uncountable.

Playing football makes me fresh.

Smoking was his worst habit.

  • languages: nouns such as English, Spanish, French, Italian, etc, is considered uncountable.

French is too hard to learn.

Spanish was my favorite language back then.

  • sports: nouns such as cricket, football, basketball, soccer, rugby are considered uncountable nouns.

Basketball is one of the famous games of all time.

football makes you fast and strong.

  • subjects and fields: nouns such as physics, mathematics, poetry, history, etc, are considered uncountable.

I studied history which was actually really interesting for me.

This music is created by his father.

  • state of being: nouns such as happiness, sadness, birth, death, energy, forgiveness, etc, are considered uncountable.

For me, happiness is the most important thing in my life.

Millions of death happens on this bridge.

  • abstract ideas: nouns such as information, education, knowledge, etc, are considered uncountable.

His information is based on the news so it has to be true.

He does not have much knowledge about Chemistry.

Concrete Uncountable Nouns

Concrete uncountable nouns can be easily touched, sensed, or seen. Check out the list to learn more about them.

  • amorphous substances: nouns such as kinds of liquids, materials, grains, powders, gases are considered uncountable.
  1. liquids: substances such as water, juice, milk, soup, etc., are considered uncountable.
  2. materials: substances such as cotton, gold, silver, etc., are considered uncountable.
  3. powders: substances such as coffee powder, cinnamon, sugar, etc., are considered uncountable.
  4. gases: substances such as air, Neon, Xeon, etc., are considered uncountable.
  5. grains: substances such as rice, sand, salt, sugar, corn, wheat, etc., are considered uncountable.

check out the examples:

I drank my tea and finished it. → liquid

This neckless is made of gold. → material

I hate cocoa in my milk. → powder

The air was polluted so I wore a mask. → gas

Put some sugar in my coffee; I don't like it dark. → grain

What Is the Difference between Collective and Uncountable Nouns?

There are some uncountable nouns that look like collective nouns because they are used in a set of collections such as furniture or equipment. Here is the difference; Collective nouns are countable, as a result, they can be used with indefinite articles, but uncountable nouns such as 'furniture' cannot be used with an indefinite article.

I will make a team that can beat yours easily. → 'team' is a collective noun

I have had a furniture. → 'furniture' is an uncountable noun

Using Countable Nouns in a Sentence

Partitives

Partitives are words or phrases followed by the particle 'of.' They refer to a part of the following noun whether it is a countable or uncountable noun. partitives are phrases such as spoon of, a bunch of, a flock of, a bottle of, piece of, a slice of, a glass of, some of, lots of, a lot of, many of, a number of, any of. Here are some examples.

Give me a slice of the cheese.

A lot of people we staying in lines for the Black Friday discounts.

Using Quantifiers with Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Some 'quantifiers' are only used with countable nouns because they refer to a number whether it is a definite or indefinite number. Check out the examples first then take a look at the table below:

A glass of water was left on the table.

In this sentence the word 'glass' is a countable noun and it can be used with indefinite article 'a.'

A water was left on the table.

Here, the word 'water' is an uncountable noun, as a result you cannot use it after an indefinite article.

✓ I have used many jars of jam.

Here the noun 'jar' is a countable noun so we can use it with 'many.'

✗ I have used many jam.

In this example, 'jam' is uncountable so we cannot used it with 'many.'

Countable Nouns Non-count Nouns
a, an
several
few
many

Some quantifiers can only be used with uncountable nouns. These quantifiers refer to an amount and as a result, they cannot indicate numbers for countable nouns. Check out the examples.

✓ I can see little progress in cancer research.

✗ I can see a few progress in cancer research.

Much information is required to solve the case.

Many information is required to solve the case.

Non-count Nouns Countable Nouns
little
much

As it was mentioned, every determiner has its own rule. They can be used with special nouns. Some quantifiers can be used with either countable or uncountable nouns. Look at the examples.

You did not put enough sugar powder on the cake.

The police had enough reasons to arrest him.

Countable Nouns Non-count Nouns
some
any
enough

Review

Based on whether nouns can have plural forms or not, they can be categorized in countable or uncountable nouns.

Uncountable Nouns Countable Nouns
we cannot count them we can count them
we cannot add a number before them we can add a number before them
they never get s or es they can get s or es
they can have containers _

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