Countable vs. Uncountable Nouns BY WWW.ENGLISHPAGE.COMDid you know that not all nouns are countable in English? Knowing the difference between countable and uncountable nouns can help you in many areas of English grammar.
Countable NounsCountable nouns are nouns that can be counted. Most nouns in English are countable.
- I have two dogs.
- Sandra has three cars.
- Jessie has ten dollars.
Uncountable NounsUncountable nouns are not counted in English. This usually has to do with the way English speakers think of these nouns. We often picture these nouns as a single concept or one big thing which is hard to divide. Many of these words are countable in other languages, but they ARE NOT countable in English. Generally, we do not use plural forms of these words; however some of these words do end in "s", so don't get confused.
Examples:Uncountable nouns tend to belong to one of the following categories:
- Mack drinks a lot of water.
- Cindy gives great advice.
- Paul enjoys politics. Ends with "s" but uncountable
Liquids and Gases
Solid and Granular Substances
Energy Words and Forces
Information and Abstract Concepts
Uncountable PluralsSometimes in English, we do use uncountable nouns in plural forms. This is most commonly done with liquids and substances. It usually takes on the meaning of "cups of", "bottles of" or "types of".
- We'll have two coffees. Cups of coffee
- I bought three waters. Bottles of water
- The company produces two leathers. Types of leather
Different MeaningsThere are certain words which have multiple meanings. It is possible for one meaning to be countable and the other to be uncountable. Take for example the word "light":
Examples:Generally, the rules are still the same. The first use of "light" is a form of energy. The second use of "light" means "small light bulbs", which are normal countable objects.
- I couldn't see anything because there was no light. Uncountable noun
- The Christmas tree was covered with hundreds of lights. Countable noun