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):

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371