Countable & Non-countable Nouns

Some nouns, such as “children,” “tables,” or “cakes,” can be counted and are therefore called countable nouns.


I saw a child playing in the garden.

Later, I saw 6 children playing in the street.

With countable nouns we can use the general determiners many and few.  

               There were many children in the street.

               There were few children in the street.

Other nouns cannot be counted directly. To count a non-countable noun we must use a ‘pre-determiner’ that can be counted.

               I have two pieces of news for you.

               I drank three cups of tea.

With non-countable nouns we can use the general determiners much and little.


               I don’t have much news for you.

               I have little money to give you.


Although much can be used in the positive or negative, it is more common in the negative.


The determiners, a lot of and some can be used with both countable or non-countable nouns.


               I saw some children on the street.

               I have some news for you.

               I saw a lot of children on the street.

               I have a lot of news for you.


Some examples of non-countable nouns: air / gold / news / money / information / feedback / documentation / literature / furniture / software / equipment / weather

Many nouns refer to abstract ideas instead of concrete things or people. These abstract nouns are rarely countable: beauty / blindness / courage / determination / equality / fear / hate / wealth

Some nouns are non-countable when we refer to quantity and countable when we refer to types.                              

                   Example:        Sugar     I put two spoons of sugar in my coffee.

                                                                There are many sugars in the world. (fructose, glucose, sucrose etc)


Other examples: oil, water, flour, wheat, grass etc

 
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