27 January 2014

Countable Noun Vs. Uncountable Noun

Nouns can be countable or uncountable. When you learn a new noun you should make a note of whether it is countable or uncountable as we use different words with countables and uncountables.

Countable nouns (count nouns):
Countable nouns have a singular and a plural form. In plural, these nouns can be used with a number- they can be counted. (That's why they are called "countable nouns").
1 friend, 2 friends, 3 friends...

1 book, 2 books, 3 books...

Countable nouns take many.

100 friends – many friends

For positive sentences we can use a/an or some (with a plural verb form)
  • There isn’t a dog in the garden.
  • There aren’t any birds in the tree.
For negatives we can use a/an or any (with a plural verb form).
  • Is there an orange on the tree?
  • Are there any chairs in the garden?
  • How many chairs are there?
In questions we use a/anany or how many.

Uncountable nouns (uncount / non-count nouns):

Uncountable nouns can only be used in singular. These nouns cannot be used with a number- they can't be counted. (That's why they are called "uncountable nouns").
I have a lot of money. (Not 1000 money)

You say I drink a lot of milk. (Not 5 milk)

Uncountable nouns take much.
 100 money – much money
Note: Of course you can count money, milk, meat; but then you would use the currency, liter, kilo, glass,...and say that you have got:
  •          5 euros or dollars... (but not 5 money).
  •          2 liters, pints, glasses... of milk (but not 2 milk)
  •         3 kilos... of meat (but not 3 meat)
  •         10 bottles of mineral water... (but not 10 mineral water)

Uncountable nouns have no plural. The verb form is singular and we use some.
  • Is there any sugar?
  • How much wine is there?
In questions we can use any or how much.

Other expressions of quantity

  • There are a lot of apples on the trees.
  • There is a lot of snow on the road.
A lot of can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.
  • Bill Gates has much money.
Notice that we don’t usually use ‘much’ or ‘many’ in positive sentences. We use ‘a lot of’.
  • Bill Gates has a lot of money.
  • There’s a lot of beer but there isn’t much wine.
  • There are a lot of carrots but there aren’t many potatoes.
We use not many with countable nouns and not much with uncountable nouns.

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