Some nouns in English are uncount nouns.

We do not use uncount nouns in the plural and we do not use them with the indefinite article, a/an.

We ate a lot of foods > We ate a lot of food
We bought some new furnitures > We bought some new furniture
That’s a useful information > That’s useful information

We can use some quantifiers with uncount nouns:

He gave me some useful advice.
They gave us a lot of information.

Uncount nouns often refer to:

  • Substances: food; water; wine; salt; bread; iron
  • Human feelings or qualities: anger; cruelty; happiness; honesty; pride;
  • Activities: help; sleep; travel; work
  • Abstract ideas: beauty; death; fun; life

 

Common uncount nouns

There are some common nouns in English, like accommodation, which are uncount nouns even though they have plurals in other languages:

 

advice baggage equipment furniture homework information
knowledge luggage machinery money news traffic

Let me give you some advice.
How much luggage have you got?

If we want to make these things countable, we use expressions like:

 

a piece of... pieces of... a bit of... bits of... an item of... items of...

 Let me give you a piece of advice.
That’s a useful piece of equipment.
We bought a few bits of furniture for the new apartment.
She had six separate items of luggage.

but we do not use accommodation, money and traffic in this way.

Exercise

Comments

Hello Carina!
 
Yes, you're right - sustainability is uncountable. If you look it up using our online dictionary, you'll see the noun has [U] in brackets after it - uncountable. I am not sure what you mean by 'how to use it' though - are you asking about the meaning or the use? It is used like any other noun, and it is usually used to talk about environmental issues, specifically whether or not something can be done for a long time without damaging the environment:
 
Sustainability is big issue in environmental politics.
 
As for some or little - these words are just quantifiers. You can read about them here.

Hope that helps!
 
Jeremy Bee
The LearnEnglish Team
 

Thanks Jeremy. In terms of usage of the word; there can be "little sustainability" but not "three sustainability". Isn't 'three' also a quantifier? Also, 'sustainability' can be used with quantifiers such as 'some' or 'greater' but not with 'few' ("few sustainability" sounds odd). Why is this the case? Cheers, Carina

... I think I found the answers to my 2nd post. Because sustainability is an uncountable noun, it cannot be used with numbers. Thanks Jeremy. Carina

I'm a bits of puzzle here, if Gas is uncount noun then what is gaseous ?
Kindly explain? Millions thanks in advance.

Hello Mydearfriend73,
If you look on the right of the page you'll see a little window headed 'Cambridge Dictionaries Online', which you can use to look up items of vocabulary.  Try it with 'gaseous' and you'll be able to answer your own question!
Best wishes,
 
Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Thanka you for your effort.my question is:the deferences between a piece of... and pieces of...

Hello Abdowawa,
'A piece of' is singular (one piece); 'pieces of' is plural (more than one piece).
Best wishes,
 
Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Team,
You are doing a great job by providing free knowledge for English language. This will be very helpful for person who is not able to afford tuition fee. My question is, in first line you just mentioned that "We do not use uncount nouns in the plural and we do not use them with the indefinite article, a/an." but in the first example "We ate a lot of food" you used article 'a'.
I will really appreciate your time you would spend in replying this.
Regards,
Hussain Bahelim

Hello Hussain Bahelim,
Thank you for your warm words - they are much appreciated and it is nice to know we are helping people with the English studies.
The answer to your question is that we do not use 'a' with the uncount noun 'food', but we do use the quantifying phrase 'a lot of', which should be considered a set/fixed phrase like 'many', 'much', a great deal of' and so on.  By the way, 'a lot of' can be used with both count and uncount nouns: 'a lot of food' and 'a lot of apples'.
Best wishes,
 
Peter
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,
Yes, you people are helping definitely. But important thing is, you are helping those who could not afford English Tutor for learning.
So in 'a lot of' we can not say 'a' is an article instead it is whole phrase itself. Is it necessary or is there any rule by which we can only use an article before noun only ?
Sorry I am not native English speaker so lots of confusion.
Regards,
Hussain Bahelim

Pages