Unit 3.1

Countable and Uncountable Nouns


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Introduction

Nouns refer to a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality.

Countable nouns are nouns considered as separate objects that can be counted with numbers.

Uncountable nouns refer to things we consider as a mass, and not as separate objects.

Form

There is not a fixed rule for the formation of countable and uncountable nouns.

Countable nouns

Countable nouns have both singular and plural forms. They can be used with indefinite articles (a/an) and numbers.

Uncountable nouns

Uncountable nouns cannot be used with the indefinite article (a/an) or numbers. They can have:

  • Only the singular form that cannot be made plural (advicebaggage, information, energy, furniture, homework, money…);
  • Only the plural form that cannot be made singular (the Spanishnews, groceries, clothes, thanks, regards…).

Example

Countable nouns:

  • I have a dog at home.
  • He is so rich that he owns five houses.
  • We want to play a tennis match.

Uncountable nouns:

  • His advice was very important. / His advices were very important.
  • There is information in this guide. / There are informations in this guide.
  • I have some news about Bulgaria. /  I have a new about Bulgaria.
  • Can you lend me some dry clothes?Can you lend me a dry cloth?

Use

Countable nouns are used as separate objects and could be counted with numbers.

Uncountable nouns are objects considered as a mass and cannot be separated (words about weather, liquids, materials or abstract nouns).

Summary

There is not a fixed rule for the formation of countable or uncountable nouns:

  • countable nouns refer to separate objects that can be counted with numbers. They can be used with the indefinite article (a/an).
  • uncountable nouns refer to abstract nouns, mass objects that cannot be separated. They cannot be used with the indefinite article (a/an) and usually only have the singular form with no plural or the plural form with no singular.

For example:
— “There is a mobile phone on the table.” = Mobile phone is a countable singular noun, that’s why we use indefinite article a.
— “There are two mobile phones on the table.” = Mobile phones is a countable plural noun so we can count them with the number two.
— “My teacher bought furniture for her house. / “My teacher bought furnitures for her house.” = Furniture is an uncountable singular noun that does not have a plural form.
— “The police catch killers.” / “The police catches killers.” = The police is an uncountable plural noun that does not have a singular form.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

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