Countable nouns

 
Countable nouns are nouns that we can count: car, house, book, etc. We can say one car, two cars, three cars, etc.
 

Singular and plural

 
Countable nouns have singular and plural forms: a car/cars, a house/houses, a book/books, etc.
 

a/an + singular countable noun

 
We CANNOT use a singular countable noun without a determiner like a/an or the.

  • I have a car. (NOT I have car.)
  • When I was a child(NOT When I was child.)

 

Uncountable nouns

 
Uncountable nouns are nouns that we cannot count: money, milk, rain, etc. We cannot say one money, two moneys, etc.
 

Only singular

 
Uncountable nouns do not have a plural form, they only have a singular form: money/moneys, milk/milks, rain/rains, etc.
 

Not a/an

 
We cannot use a/an + uncountable noun. A/an means ‘one’, and we cannot count uncountable nouns.

  • I need money. (NOT a money.)
  • We need to buy sugar. (NOT a sugar.)

 

Types of words that are uncountable

 
Some types of words that are typically uncountable are:

  • Food, drinks and liquids: cheese, bread, pasta, coffee, milk, petrol, fuel, etc.
  • Materials: iron, wood, metal, paper, plastic, etc.
  • Abstract ideas and feelings: information, advice, strength, time, love, excitement, etc.
  • Illnesses: diabetes, alzheimer, cancer, etc.
  • Languages: English, French, Spanish, etc.

 

Uncountable in English but not in other languages

 
Some nouns are uncountable in English, but they are countable in other languages. Some of them are: advice, news (it ends in -s, but it’s a singular word), furniture, luggage, baggage, bread, cheese, toast, etc.
 

Countable and uncountable

 
Some nouns can be countable and uncountable because they can refer to a unit or to ‘mass’ or ‘material’. Compare:

  • Yesterday I had two coffees. (= two cups of coffee)
  • I love coffee. (= the liquid that we drink)
  • I found one hair in my soup. (one single hair)
  • She has beautiful hair. (= the mass of hair on her head)

 

a/an, some, any

 
a, some, any
 

a/an

 
We use a/an + singular countable noun.

  • I have a new car. 
  • She has a brother and a sister.

We cannot use a/an before a plural noun or an uncountable noun.

  • I need to buy sugar. (NOT a sugar.)
  • We saw very beautiful places(NOT a very beautiful places.)

 

some/any

 
We use some and any before countable plural nouns or singular uncountable nouns.

  • He gave me some coins
  • He didn’t give me any coins.
  • He gave me some money.

 

some

 
We use some in positive sentences.

  • We cooked some cookies

 

any

 
We use any in negative sentences and questions.

  • She didn’t send me any messages.
  • Have you got any brothers or sisters?

But we use some in questions when we are asking for something or we are offering something.

  • Can I have some tea(=I’m asking for some tea.)
  • Would you like some tea(=I’m offering you some tea.)

 


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