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Common problems with count and uncount nouns


Level: beginner 

Substances as count or uncount nouns

Substances are usually uncount nouns:

Would you like some cheese?
Coffee keeps me awake at night.
Wine makes me sleepy.

but they can also be used as count nouns:

I'd like a coffee, please. = I'd like a [cup of] coffee.
May I have a white wine? = May I have a [glass of] white wine?
They sell a lot of coffees. = They sell a lot of [different kinds of] coffee.
I prefer white wines to red. = I prefer [different kinds of] white wine to red.
They had over twenty cheeses. = They had over twenty [types of] cheese.
This is an excellent soft cheese. = This [kind of] soft cheese is excellent.

Substances as count or uncount nouns 1


Substances as count or uncount nouns 2


Nouns with both a count and an uncount form

Some nouns have both a count and an uncount form. Their meanings are closely related:

George had hopes of promotion.
We should always have hope.

There's a danger of avalanches on the mountain.
Some people enjoy danger.

Level: intermediate

Nouns with two meanings

Some nouns have two meanings, one count and the other uncount:

Can I have a glass of water?
I cut myself on some glass.


Is English a difficult language?
Linguistics is the study of language.

The Times is an excellent paper.
It's made of paper.

Other nouns like this are:

business industry property wood
power time work hair
Nouns with two meanings 1


Nouns with two meanings 2


Uncount nouns that end in –s

Some uncount nouns end in –s. They look like plural count nouns, but they are not.

Nouns like this generally refer to:

Subjects of study: mathematics, physics, economics, etc.
Activities: gymnastics, athletics, etc. 
Games: cards, darts, billiards, etc.
Diseases: mumps, measles, rabies, etc.

Economics is a very difficult subject.
Billiards is easier than pool or snooker.

Uncount nouns that end in –s




Thank you sir. Also is use of "two-third" correct or there should be "two - thirds"?

Hello Agog,

The correct form is 'two-thirds'.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hi sir I really need to know that the word electricity is countable or uncountable ... i know is sounds ridiculous or whatever but In webster(dictionary)I found out that it has plural form ... electricities and the first use was in I got confused....and I'd be pleased if you can answer me as soon as possible...cause its kinda way more important for me to know

Hello Sir,
IncorrectIt was difficult marriage.
IncorrectThat's very interesting property. How much is it?
IncorrectIt's not easy to run business and raise a family
IncorrectPhysics are not my best subject.
Kindly let me know the cause of these sentences incorrect.

Hello Imran,

In the first three sentences, the indefinite article 'a' is missing before singular count nouns. In the last, 'physics' is a singular noun.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,
I am confuse with above exercise, I have 5 out of 8. in previous lesson of Uncounted Noun U have read that, we do not use in definite article with uncounted noun but in above exercise the indefinite articles used before uncounted nouns. Kindly let me the correct sense of it.

Hello Imran,

Can you please copy the sentences that you have questions about into a comment? Please also of course tell us what you don't understand about them.

We'd really appreciate it if you could do that, as it makes it easier for us to respond clearly and concisely if we know exactly what you have questions about.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,
"How many languages do you know?" How many language do you know?"
Kindly let me know what the correct form of above sentences.

Hello Imran 26,

'language' can be a count or uncount noun, depending on how it's used. In this case, when you're talking about different languages, it of course must be a plural count noun. 'how much' is used with uncount nouns and 'how many' with count nouns.

Therefore the first sentence is the correct one.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

hello Sir,
I have red multiples time in many places that "Industries,properties,works" but in above I have red that these all are non-count noun. We how we can write these words like that?