What Do We Mean by Countable and Uncountable Nouns?
Nouns can be classified into two groups based on whether they can be counted or not:
- countable nouns
- uncountable nouns
Countable nouns can be quantified, for example, one potato, two potatoes, three potatoes, etc. Countable nouns are typically categorized into two groups.
Take a look at some examples:
In this example, using a number before a noun makes it obvious that it is countable.
Uncountable nouns, also known as mass nouns, cannot be quantified, for example, butter, water, rice, etc. They are typically used with a singular verb and do not have a plural form.
I'll make some
There isn't any
When we use words like "cheeses" or "wines", we are not referring to the uncountable noun itself, but rather to its various types or varieties. A particular type of cheese or wine is countable because it is a characteristic of the noun, rather than the noun itself.
Switzerland has many different
Here we mean 'Switzerland has many different varieties of cheese and wine'.
There are many different
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 are
- gerunds: nouns such as swimming, eating, dancing, playing, etc, are considered uncountable.
- languages: nouns such as English, Spanish, French, Italian, etc, are considered uncountable.
- sports: nouns such as cricket, football, basketball, soccer, rugby are considered uncountable nouns.
- subjects and fields: nouns such as physics, mathematics, poetry, history, etc, are considered uncountable.
- state of being: nouns such as happiness, sadness, birth, death, energy, forgiveness, etc, are considered uncountable.
- abstract ideas: nouns such as information, education, knowledge, etc, are considered uncountable.
He does not have much
Concrete Uncountable Nouns
Concrete uncountable nouns are
- amorphous substances: nouns such as kinds of liquids, materials, grains, powders, gasses are considered uncountable.
- liquids: substances such as water, juice, milk, soup, etc., are considered uncountable.
- materials: substances such as cotton, gold, silver, etc., are considered uncountable.
- powders: substances such as coffee powder, cinnamon, sugar, etc., are considered uncountable.
- gasses: substances such as air, Neon, Xeon, etc., are considered uncountable.
- grains: substances such as rice, sand, salt, sugar, corn, wheat, etc., are considered uncountable.
Pay attention to the examples:
I drank my
This neckless is made of
What Is the Difference between Collective and Uncountable Nouns?
Some uncountable nouns, such as 'furniture' and 'equipment', are often used in sets or collections, which can make them appear similar to collective nouns. However, the difference is that collective nouns are
I will make a
'team' is a collective noun
I have had
'furniture' is an uncountable noun
Partitives are words or phrases that are followed by the particle 'of' and are used to refer to a portion of a following noun, whether it is
Give me a slice of the
A lot of
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:
In this sentence the word 'glass' is a countable noun and it can be used with indefinite article '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
Here the noun 'jar' is a countable noun so we can use it with 'many.'
✗ I have used
In this example, 'jam' is uncountable so we cannot used it with 'many.'
|Countable Nouns||Uncountable Nouns|
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
✗ I can see
progress in cancer research.
information is required to solve the case.
|Uncountable Nouns||Countable Nouns|
Furthemore, some quantifiers can be used with either countable or uncountable nouns. Look at the examples.
You did not put
The police had
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
they can get
|they can have containers||_|
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