Count and Non-count Nouns
Countable nouns can be easily spotted and are usually tangible. They can be used in a plural form by adding an “s” or “es”. For example: apples, dogs, cars and chairs. Here are more examples:
- Boy, girl
- Man, woman (Irregular – Men, women)
- Chair, table, desk
- Pound, inch, foot
- Grape, cookie, watermelon
- Bed, shirt, belt, tie
Countable nouns can be expressed in either singular or plural:
- His friend is visiting.
- His friends are visiting.
Countable nouns are commonly used with the definite article “the” and indefinite article “a”:
- A dolphin is a mammal.
- She would like an apple.
- It is on the table.
Words like a, the, my, this, and an are necessary when using a single countable noun:
- She wants a raise.
- Which is his car?
However, a plural countable noun can be used on its own:
- He likes musicals.
- Computers are useful.
The words some and any are commonly used with countable nouns. They are also used with uncountable nouns as well. Here are a few examples with countable nouns:
- He has some stamps.
- Does she have any siblings?
The words a few and many are also commonly used with countable nouns. They are not used with uncountable nouns.
- She has a few relatives.
- He doesn’t have many friends.
In contrast to countable nouns, uncountable nouns are those that we cannot separate and count on their own. Time, for example, can not be counted. The same is true for water. We can count glasses of water, but not the water itself. We can also count time by minutes, seconds, hours, days, etc. See more examples below:
- Love, hate, sadness
- Companionship, knowledge, health
- Milk, salt, wine
- Leverage, power, energy
Uncountable nouns are treated as singular, which is why we use a singular verb with them. For example:
- His power is remarkable.
- The salt melts the snow.
Uncountable nouns typically do not use the indefinite articles “a” or “an”. There are exceptions, but you should avoid its use. We usually do not say “a milk” or “an energy”. We can use an article if you use a container word(quantifier) before the uncountable noun.
- a gallon of milk
- a bit of leverage
- a great deal of joy
The words some and any can be used with uncountable nouns.
- She has some pride.
- Did they have any wine?
The words a little and much are also used with uncountable nouns. These cannot be used with countable nouns.
- She has a little fear.
- They haven’t got much energy.
Below there are more examples of different countable and uncountable nouns:
If you are going to speak with native English speakers you really do need to understand the different countable and uncountable nouns.
Nouns that can be Countable and Uncountable
Some nouns can be countable and uncountable depending on the context. In these cases, the word may actually change its meaning.
|She has visited here many times.||time||What time is it?|
|Bring me three coffees.||coffee||I have three bags of coffee left.|
|She loves to eat tropical fruits.||fruit||Eat at least one piece of fruit a day.|
|That was one of the greatest works of art.||work||He likes to work on the weekend.|