Countable & Uncountable nouns. Free English Lesson with Test and Certificate.
Quick Countable Nouns study for SAT, IELTS, TESOL and other exams.
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How to learn countable & uncountable nouns in English
In English you use different words with countable and uncountable nouns. For example, we say, "there are MANY chairs in the restaurant," ... but we’d say, "John didn't eat MUCH food today." The number of chairs in the restaurant can be counted, but there is no standard way to count the food which John ate.
There's lots of examples of the different ways to use countable and uncountable nouns in our lesson.
Your English lesson about countable & uncountable nouns
Welcome to the lesson about countable and uncountable nouns! In this lesson, you will learn many of the general rules about these different types of nouns, but remember to pay attention to the examples and not just the rules so you can learn how to use these words naturally.
As with most grammar rules, it is helpful to remember them when you are taking a test. But if you are trying to speak English, trying to remember grammar rules will slow you down.
There are lots of example sentences in this lesson. It is a good idea to read these again and again until they feel natural to you. Remember, when you are speaking, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Just let it go!
Countable nouns are nouns which can be counted, even if the number is extremely high like counting the number of stars. Countable nouns can be used with a/an, the, some, any, a few, and many.
The shirt is brown.
Some cars are fast.
Can I have a few bottles of water?
There are many chairs in the restaurant.
There are many stars in the sky.
(Note. Even though there are millions of stars, they could still be counted.)
Uncountable nouns are nouns which come in a state or quantity which is impossible to count. Things like liquids, sand, and air are uncountable. These uncountable nouns are always considered to be singular, and can be used with some, any, a little, a lot, and much.
John didn’t eat much food today.
The wind blew some sand into my sandwich when we had lunch on the beach.
John doesn’t have much homework today.
Because homework is an uncountable noun, it should be modified by much or a lot of. Some more examples of uncountable nouns would be water, rain, music, wood, and dust.
Both Countable and Uncountable nouns
Some nouns can be both countable and uncountable such as light, hair, room, gear, art, and science.
Did you have a good time at the party?
Here, time is countable (a time).
I didn’t have much time to do my hair before I left.
In this sentence, time is uncountable.
There is some juice on the table.
There are some juices on the table.
In this sentence we are referring to bottles of juice or juice boxes.
You will see this used with water and other uncountable nouns as well. Water is clearly uncountable, but we can count water if it is in a countable shape or container. We can count bottles of water, jugs of water, and lakes, rivers, and oceans are all countable.
More Countable & Uncountable Noun exercises
When using countable or uncountable nouns, pay attention to articles and adjectives. Some articles and adjectives can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns. However, others can be used with only countable or only uncountable nouns.
Used with Countable Nouns Only
a doctor, a pen, a meal, a class, a college
many cups, many books, many libraries, many flights
few questions, few tables, few apples, few holidays, few countries
a few questions, a few problems, a few issues
Used with Uncountable Nouns Only
much money, much time, much food, much sleep, much energy
little trouble, little equipment, little meat, little patience
a little bit of
a little bit of confidence, a little bit of homework, a little bit of snow
Used with Countable & Uncountable Nouns
countable: the monkeys, the schools, the teachers, the boats, the bananas
uncountable: the cheese, the machinery, the luggage, the grass, the knowledge
countable: some tables, some stores, some grapes, some cities, some nurses
uncountable: some time, some news, some bread, some salt, some mail
countable: any forks, any socks, any pens, any waiters, any classes
uncountable: any advice, any soap, any transportation, any gold, any homework
countable: no magazines, no chocolates, no pilots, no rings, no markers
uncountable: no trouble, no grass, no scenery, no money, no furniture
a lot of
countable: a lot of animals, a lot of coins, a lot of immigrants, a lot of babies
Uncountable: a lot of help, a lot of aggravation, a lot of happiness, a lot of fun
countable: lots of computers, lots of buses, lots of parties, lots of colleges
Uncountable: lots of cake, lots of ice cream, lots of energy, lots of laughter
countable: enough plates, enough onions, enough restaurants, enough worries
Uncountable: enough courage, enough wisdom, enough spaghetti, enough time
countable: plenty of houses, plenty of concerts, plenty of guitars, plenty of amimals
Uncountable: plenty of oil, plenty of sugar, plenty of cheese, plenty of space
It’s story time
Now that we’ve learned a lot about countable and uncountable nouns, let’s see how they are used in a short story. As you read the following story, pay attention to the countable and uncountable nouns and how they are used.
Alan wanted to cry when he was awakened by his alarm clock at midnight. But, he also felt a lot of excitement. Tonight, the whole family was going to the beach! He had never been to the beach before, and he couldn’t wait to play in the sand and swim in the ocean. However, he was not looking forward to spending a long time in the van.
His father had warned him many times that they would be on the road for many hours. That was why they were leaving in the middle of the night. If they drove during the daytime, it would take too much time.
When they finally got to the resort, Alan couldn’t stop smiling as he looked out at the beautiful beach. There weren’t a lot of people there, so there wasn’t much noise except for the many waves as they crashed on the shore line. There was so much white sand, he was sure he would be able to build many huge sand castles. He was also attracted to the many beautiful shells that had washed up on the shore.
Next, Alan’s father began to tell him about how to stay safe at the beach. Alan couldn’t believe how much information his father knew about the beach. His father had a lot of knowledge about many things, and Alan was finding out that being safe at the beach was one category that he was an expert in.
The lesson seemed like it took a lot of time, but it probably only lasted for a few minutes. Finally, Alan was allowed to go into the water! It was one of the most exciting moments of his life. There was so much water, and he was surprised to find out that the current and the waves had so much strength. The first wave he felt almost knocked him down.
After a few minutes, he began to feel much more comfortable, and he had a lot of fun. He dove under some waves, and jumped up high over some of the smaller waves. This was going to be a day that he would never forget.
That’s the end of the lesson on countable & uncountable nouns.
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