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Countable and uncountable nouns 1

Do you know how to use a, some, any, much and many?

Look at these examples to see how to use countable and uncountable nouns in a sentence.

I'm making a cup of tea.
There's some money on the table.
Have we got any bread?
How many chairs do we need?
How much milk have we got?

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Countable and uncountable nouns 1: Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

Nouns can be countable or uncountable. Countable nouns can be counted, e.g. an apple, two apples, three apples, etc. Uncountable nouns cannot be counted, e.g. air, rice, water, etc. When you learn a new noun, you should check if it is countable or uncountable and note how it is used in a sentence.

Countable nouns

For positive sentences we can use a/an for singular nouns or some for plurals.

There's a man at the door.
I have some friends in New York.

For negatives we can use a/an for singular nouns or any for plurals.

I don't have a dog.
There aren't any seats.

Uncountable nouns

Here are some examples of uncountable nouns:

bread rice coffee information
money advice luggage furniture

We use some with uncountable nouns in positive sentences and any with negatives.

There's some milk in the fridge.
There isn't any coffee.

Questions

In questions we use a/an, any or how many with countable nouns.

Is there an email address to write to?
Are there any chairs?
How many chairs are there?

And we use any or how much with uncountable nouns.

Is there any sugar?
How much orange juice is there?

But when we are offering something or asking for something, we normally use some.

Do you want some chocolate?
Can we have some more chairs, please?

We also use some in a question when we think the answer will be 'yes'.

Have you got some new glasses?

Other expressions of quantity

A lot of (or lots of) can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.

There are lots of apples on the trees.
There is a lot of snow on the road
.

Notice that we don't usually use many or much in positive sentences. We use a lot of instead.

They have a lot of money.

However, in negative sentences we use not many with countable nouns and not much with uncountable nouns.

There are a lot of carrots but there aren't many potatoes.
There's lots of juice but there isn't much water.

Go to Countable and uncountable nouns 2 to learn more.

Try this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Countable and uncountable nouns 1: Grammar test 2

Language level

Beginner: A1
Pre-intermediate: A2

Comments

Hello Sir,
My doubt is related to question 7.
I have bought some new shoes but I did not get a shirt.

I got the first part right : I have bought some new shoes.

But I did not get why we used 'a' with shirt?

Is 'I have bought some new shoes but I did not get any shirt. ' wrong?

Hello Navreet Bhardwaj,

We use any with uncountable nouns (e.g. sugar, time, water) or with countable plural nouns (chairs, people, shirts). Thus, we could say '...but I did not get any shirts'.

However, if we have a singular countable noun (chair, person, shirt) then we cannot use any. We need to use either the indefinite article (a) or the definite article. (the). Thus, any shirt is not correct.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you so much.

It's always good when someone clears your doubts. :)

Hello,
In the first grammar test number 8, can we say "There isn't any toothpaste." "any" is for count and uncount nouns and for negative and interrogative sentences, right?
Also, in the second grammar test number 7, can we say "I've bought
some new shoes but I didn't get any shirt."? If not, can you explain why?
Thank you so much.

On question 7 in Grammar Test 1, is "We have a lot of chairs but we don't have 'many' tables." incorrect?

Hello Cannon Sensei

You're right -- 'many' is also a possible answer for the second gap. I'll change the exercise so that it accepts that answer as well as 'any'.

Thanks for pointing this out to us.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello team,

Will it be wrong to write "I've bought many new shoes but I didn't get any shirt."

Hello team,
Can "many" be used for any plural count nouns?

I have many books.

Hello Rebecca

Yes, you can use 'many' with plural count nouns, though people tend to use 'a lot of' instead of 'many' in affirmative statements, and to use 'many' more in negative statements (e.g. 'I don't have many books').

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, referring to grammar test 1 above:
" I've bought some new shoes"
Can I also write the sentence as shown below?

" I've bought many new shoes"

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