Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

English: skills for learning
English: skills for learning

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

3.1 Countable and uncountable nouns

Knowing if a word is countable or uncountable helps to use it in the context of a sentence.

Uncountable nouns are nouns that cannot be counted. These include names of substances such as rice and milk and abstract nouns such as music, fun and happiness.

These words cannot be plural. It would be incorrect to say rices, milks, musics, funs and happinesses.

As these words refer to things that cannot be counted, it is incorrect to use ‘many’, ‘a few’, ‘several’, ‘a’ or ‘an’ when talking about their quantity. However, it is correct to say:

a bag of rice, a grain of rice

a glass of milk, a lot of milk, some milk, no milk

some fun, a lot of or a little happiness or, more formally, a great deal of happiness.

Countable nouns are words that refer to things that can be counted. These are both concrete nouns such as girl, dog and book and abstract nouns such as idea and strategy.

These words can be plural (dogs, girls, books, ideas and strategies) and can be preceded by ‘many’, ‘a few’, ‘a’ or ‘an’ as in:

a dog, a few girls, several books

a few ideas, many strategies.

Some words can be both countable and uncountable. This is because they have more than one meaning. For example, the word ‘room’ can be used to refer to the parts of a building (countable) or the amount of space needed (uncountable):