Friday, 7 October 2011

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Countable Nouns

Countable nouns are easy to recognize. They are things that we can count. For example: "pen". We can count pens. We can have one, two, three or more pens. Here are some more countable nouns:
  • dog, cat, animal, man, person
  • bottle, box, litre
  • coin, note, dollar
  • cup, plate, fork
  • table, chair, suitcase, bag
Countable nouns can be singular or plural:
  • My dog is playing.
  • My dogs are hungry.
We can use the indefinite article a/an with countable nouns:
  • A dog is an animal.
When a countable noun is singular, we must use a word like a/the/my/this with it:
  • I want an orange. (not I want orange.)
  • Where is my bottle? (not Where is bottle?)
When a countable noun is plural, we can use it alone:
  • I like oranges.
  • Bottles can break.
We can use some and any with countable nouns:
  • I've got some dollars.
  • Have you got any pens?
We can use a few and many with countable nouns:
  • I've got a few dollars.
  • I haven't got many pens

Uncountable Nouns

Uncountable nouns are substances, concepts etc that we cannot divide into separate elements. We cannot "count" them. For example, we cannot count "milk". We can count "bottles of milk" or "litres of milk", but we cannot count "milk" itself. Here are some more uncountable nouns:
  • music, art, love, happiness
  • advice, information, news
  • furniture, luggage
  • rice, sugar, butter, water
  • electricity, gas, power
  • money, currency
We usually treat uncountable nouns as singular. We use a singular verb. For example:
  • This news is very important.
  • Your luggage looks heavy.
We do not usually use the indefinite article a/an with uncountable nouns. We cannot say "an information" or "a music". But we can say a something of:
  • a piece of news
  • a bottle of water
  • a grain of rice
We can use some and any with uncountable nouns:
  • I've got some money.
  • Have you got any rice?
We can use a little and much with uncountable nouns:
  • I've got a little money.
  • I haven't got much rice.
Uncountable nouns are also called "mass nouns".
Here are some more examples of countable and uncountable nouns:
Countable Uncountable
dollar money
song music
suitcase luggage
table furniture
battery electricity
bottle wine
report information
tip advice
journey travel
job work
view scenery
When you learn a new word, it's a good idea to learn whether it's countable or uncountable.

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