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Countable, uncountable and plural noun NA1

• Countable nouns are individual objects, people, places, etc. which can be counted.

books, Italians, pictures, stations, men, etc.

A countable noun can be both singular - a friend, a house, etc. - or plural - a few apples, lots
of trees, etc.

Use the singular form of the verb with a singular countable noun:

There is a book on the table.


That student is excellent!

Use the plural form of the verb with a countable noun in the plural:

There are some students in the classroom.


Those houses are very big, aren't they?

• Uncountable nouns are materials, concepts, information, etc. which are not
individual objects and can not be counted.

information, water, understanding, wood, cheese, etc.

Uncountable nouns are always singular. Use the singular form of the verb with uncountable
nouns:

There is some water in that pitcher.


That is the equipment we use for the project.

Adjectives with Countable and Uncountable Nouns.

Use a/an with countable nouns preceded by an adjective(s):

Tom is a very intelligent young man.


I have a beautiful grey cat.

Do not use a/an with uncountable nouns preceded by an adjective(s):

That is very useful information.


There is some cold beer in the fridge.

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Some uncountable nouns in English are countable in other languages. This can be
confusing! Here is a list of some of the most common, easy to confuse uncountable
nouns.

accommodation garbage pasta


advice information progress
baggage knowledge research
bread luggage travel
equipment money work
furniture news

Obviously, uncountable nouns (especially different types of food) have forms that express
plural concepts. These measurements or containers are countable:

water - a glass of water


equipment - a piece of equipment
cheese - a slice of cheese

Here are some of the most common containers / quantity expressions for these
uncountable nouns:

accommodation - a place to stay luggage - a piece of luggage, a bag, a


advice - a piece of advice suitcase
baggage - a piece of baggage money - a note, a coin
bread - a slice of bread, a loaf of bread news - a piece of news
equipment - a piece of equipment pasta - a plate of pasta, a serving of pasta
furniture - a piece of furniture research - a piece of research, a research
garbage - a piece of garbage project
information - a piece of information travel - a journey, a trip
knowledge - a fact work - a job, a position

Here are some more common uncountable food types with their container /
quantity expressions:

liquids (water, beer, wine, etc.) - a glass, a bottle, a jug of water, etc.
cheese - a slice, a chunk, a piece of cheese
meat - a piece, a slice, a pound of meat
butter - a bar of butter
ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard - a bottle of, a tube of ketchup, etc.

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Plural nouns with no singular form

Some plural nouns (e.g. police, scissors)


* have no singular form
* take a plural verb

◊ The police are searching the area.


◊ These scissors are rusty

To refer to one item of clothing, tools or


instruments which consist of two parts,
a pair of is used, e.g.
◊ A pair of trousers
◊ A pair of scissors

Examples :

media media
police police
jeans jeans
pyjamas pyjamas
shorts shorts

Nouns that can be Countable and Uncountable


Sometimes, the same noun can be countable and uncountable, often with a change of
meaning.

Countable Uncountable
There are two hairs in my coffee! hair I don't have much hair.
There are two lights in our bedroom. Close the curtain. There's too much
light
light!
Shhhhh! I thought I heard a noise. It's difficult to work when there is too
noise
much noise.
Have you got a paper to read? (= I want to draw a picture. Have you got
paper
newspaper) some paper?
Our house has seven rooms. room Is there room for me to sit here?
We had a great time at the party. time Have you got time for a coffee?
Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's I have no mon
work
greatest works.

See more

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Some nouns can be either countable or uncountable

• COUNTABLE
o Helen baked a cake for her mother.
o There’s a hair in my soup.
o Someone threw a stone at me.
o Jane’s peeling the potatoes.
o She gave me a box of chocolates.

• UNCOUNTABLE
o Have some cake.
o I must wash my hair.
o Is this house built of stone?
o Would you like some potato?
o I don’t eat chocolate

The countable noun is specific, the uncountable noun is


more general

• COUNTABLE
o Rugby is a sport.
o That’s an old painting over there.
o He had an interesting life.
o We heard a loud noise outside.

• UNCOUNTABLE
o I don’t like sport.
o Is Betty good at painting?
o Life isn’t always easy.
o Your children make so much noise.

Some nouns can be countable or uncountable with


different meanings

• COUNTABLE
o He bought a paper. (= A newspaper)

• UNCOUNTABLE
o I need some paper to write on.

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__________________________________________

• COUNTABLE
o Would you like a glass of juice.

• UNCOUNTABLE
o You need to buy a piece of glass for the window.

___________________________________________________________

• COUNTABLE
o Have you got an iron? (for clothes)

• UNCOUNTABLE
o This chair is made of iron.

____________________________________________

• COUNTABLE
o Your room is a mess.
o He switched all the lights on.
o How many times Ann phone?
o He runs a small business.

• UNCOUNTABLE
o There is no room for you.
o There’s more light by the window.
o I haven’t got any time to lose.
o He enjoys doing business.

Words for drink …

• UNCOUNTABLE (usually)
o Coffee is more expensive than tea.

• COUNTABLE (when we are ordering or offering drinks)


o Two coffees, please.

English Grammar Compiled by Liia- RündalAdviser: Peeter Linnamäe

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