Topic outline

    • Countable and Uncountable Nouns

      Countable Nouns

      1.   Countable nouns include people, animals, places, things, or ideas that can be counted using numbers.

      For example: "pencil".

      We can count pencils. We can have one, two, three or more pencils.


      2.   Countable Nouns have both singular and plural forms (e.g. pen/pens; man/men; country/countries).

      Sample Sentences:

      a)   A buffalo gives milk. (Singular)

      b)   Buffaloes give milk. (Plural)


              a) A child is playing in the park. (Singular)

      b)   Children are playing in the park. (Plural)


      3.   Most countable noun is preceded by a/an, e.g. a book, a girl, a child, an apple.

                                   i.        We use ‘an’ before a countable noun that begins with a vowel sound (20 vowel sounds). Example: an egg, an ostrich, an ant, an heir, etc.

                                  ii.        When a word begins with a consonant sound (24 sounds), we use ‘a’ before it. Example: a bag, a radio.


      4.   In addition to ‘a’ / ‘an’, the countable nouns is also preceded by word such as one, two, many etc.

      For Example: one toy, a few sticks; many girls, ten books, etc.

      The words such as two, three, four, many, few etc. are used with plural countable nouns, whereas ‘a’, ‘an’, and ‘one’ are used with singular countable nouns.

      Sample Sentences:

              a.           She has two dolls.

              b.           He owns a bungalow.

              c.           I would like to buy three books.

              d.           How many chocolates do you have?

              e.           There are at least twenty hotels in this area.

              f.            Mira took a lot of photographs of her little brother.

              g.           Your bag is on the table.

      Uncountable Nouns

           1.   Anything that cannot be counted using number is an uncountable noun. We use uncountable nouns for abstract ideas or qualities or for physical objects that are too small to be counted (liquids, powders, gases, etc.). They are considered as a whole or mass as they cannot be separated or counted.

      For Example:

      Ideas and experiences: advice, information, progress, news, luck, fun, work etc.

      Materials and substances: water, rice, oil, cement, gold, milk, wood, metal, cheese, sand, rice, coffee, air, oxygen, wood, steel, tea, gold, silver etc.

      Weather words: weather, thunder, lightning, rain, snow etc.

      Names for groups or collections of things: furniture, equipment, rubbish, luggage, fruit, food, vocabulary, news, French, chemistry, economics, science, math etc.

      Other common uncountable nouns include: accommodation, baggage, homework, knowledge, money, permission, research, traffic, travel, information, advice, education, democracy, intelligence, electricity, sunshine, radiation, heat, magnetism etc.

      Sample Sentences:

         a.     Rita always wears expensive jewelry.

         b.     Is this your luggage?


           2.   They are always singular and we must always use singular verbs in conjunction with uncountable nouns. They usually do not have a plural form. Abstract nouns like love, kindness, sweetness, pride, beauty, happiness, pain, feelings, ideas, air, weather, etc. are uncountable nouns.


           3.   To denote the quantity of uncountable nouns, we use words like little; a little; much or a lot of.

      We hardly say: Give me one milk or I like a milk.

      For Example:

      a.   Our mentor gives me a lot of encouragement.

      b.   There is a little water in the glass.


           4.   There is no plural form for an uncountable noun.

      Sample sentences:

      a.   This hanging is made of jute.

      b.   The jute crop is grown in West Bengal.




      Many nouns act as countable or uncountable on the basis of their structure or context. Study the following set of sentences.

      a.   Gold is used for making ornaments. (Here gold is uncountable as it is a material )

      b.   India won many gold medals in the Asian Games. (Here gold medals are countable)

      Congratulations, alms, etc. are always used as plurals.

      Sample Sentences:

          a.           My heartiest congratulations! You won the gold medal.

          b.           He gives alms to the poor.


      Nouns like trousers, pants, spectacles, goggles, scissors, drawers, tights, shorts, jeans etc. are also used only as plural. However we use ‘a pair of’, ‘a piece of’, ‘a set of’, etc. before them.

      Sample Sentences:

           a.           I bought a new pair of glasses.

           b.           I will buy a pair of jeans to go with this shirt.

           c.           He gifted me a piece of jewelry on my birthday.


      The plural forms of countable and uncountable nouns are preceded by ‘some’, when the quantity or number is not specified. We use ‘some’ for affirmative statements and ‘any’ for the negative statements or for questions with countable and uncountable nouns.

       Sample Sentences:

      a. Give me some butter please.

      b. There aren’t any teachers in the staff room.

      c. I haven’t got any certificates or any awards.

      d. Have you got any mangoes or any drink?

      e. There are some mangoes on the table.

      f.  I need some water.

      g. There were some girls in the room.

      h. I need some help.

      Measurement Nouns

      Words like foot, mile, hour, month, second, page, block, etc. are singular when used before the noun.

      Example: a 5 foot structure; a 24 page document; a 20 rupee note, a two hour documentary etc.

      But when they are used after the nouns they take the plural forms.

      Example: a structure of 5 feet, a document of 24 pages, a note of 20 rupees.


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