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

Thank you for the wonderful learning material

Perfect !!! ;) X

Hello Sir,
Phrases like piecesof bits of are used to make countable noun.What is the difference Why 2 seperate phrases and also in which context these phrases can be used with uncountable noun.

Hello jalaj,

'pieces of' is often used with something that can be broken into pieces, and 'bits of' is perhaps less specific, but in many ways they are similar. I'd suggest you look up both words in the dictionary, or search the internet for them, to see examples of them in use in different contexts.

Every language offers its speakers many ways to express the same idea, so having two expressions that mean the same thing make a language stronger and is not at all unusual.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

By the age of two a child will have a vocabulary of about two hundred words.

'vocabulary' is an uncountable noun, in this case can we use 'a' ?

Hi christine88,

There are quite a few nouns that have both count and uncount forms. If you look up 'vocabulary' in our dictionary (see the Cambridge Dictionaries Online search box on the right), you'll see that it is one of these. In this case, as it seems you've already guessed, it's a count noun, and that is why 'a' is used with it.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

dear Kirk i couldn't find list of count/uncount words like ''vocabulary'' ..Could you tell me please?

Hello Eddi,

The best place to find this kind of information is the dictionary. If you type the word 'vocabulary' in the search box on the lower right side of this page (under Cambridge Dictionaries Online) you can see the entry for this word, which will tell you if it's count [C], uncount [U] or both [C or U].

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir,

Could you please explain me the use of 'fruit' and 'crowd' in both singular and plural forms?

Is there any nuance in their meaning when they are used in the singular and the plural ?

Hello iamsam1987,

You can see some good examples of these words in use in our dictionary. Note that 'crowd' is always a count noun, but 'crowd' in the singular can be followed by a singular verb or plural verb, as it refers to a group of more than one person; 'crowds' is always followed by a plural verb.

'fruit' has both count and uncount forms. As an uncount noun, it refers to all the different kinds of that part of a plant - and this form is by far the most common one.

Best regards,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Pages