Level: beginner

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 food. (NOT foods)
We bought some new furniture. (NOT furnitures)
That's useful information. (NOT a 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

Some common nouns in English like information are uncount nouns even though they have plurals in other languages:

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

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

Common uncount nouns 1

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

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

However, accommodation, money and traffic cannot be made countable in this way. We need to use other expressions:

I've lived in three flats/apartments. (NOT bits of accommodation)
Smith received three large sums of money. (NOT pieces of money)
We got stuck in two traffic jams. (NOT pieces of traffic)

Common uncount nouns 2

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Common uncount nouns 3

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Comments

Thanks for your lesson.I really like it.but I stile can't do it well.I will try as much as possible.

Hello kinal,

That's ok, don't worry. I'd recommend you come back to the page in the future – it will probably be easier then. 

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
I ha've some problems with the word:hair/hairs. What is the different use of it, in singular and plural?

Hello maridiri,

In most contexts, 'hair' (the uncount noun) is used. For example, 'You have lovely hair' or 'His hair is black', as we're not really speaking about all the individual hairs someone has. In certain contexts, however, the singular or plural forms of the count noun are possible. I'd suggest you study the example sentences for 'hair' in the dictionary.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi!

What is the difference between " detail information" and "detailed information"?

Thanks in advance

Hello Abdullah,

'detail information' does not sound correct to me. Perhaps in some very specific context, it might be OK, but in general you should use 'detailed information'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi
I have a problem, we have inconvenience as a countable and uncountable noun. I want to learn the usage of this word...for example in this sentence wich quantifier is correct to choose : ..... Inconvenience didnt interfere with our fun. A little/a few

Hello Yalda Razmpour,

I'd suggest you look up 'inconvenience' in several online dictionaries so that you can read the example sentences to see how it's used. You can also search the internet for 'inconvenience' to see how it's used on different websites. I haven't searched myself, but I think you'll find that 'a little inconvenience' is not very common at all – you're much more likely to see this idea expressed with an adjective (e.g. 'It was a bit inconvenient that ...'), I suspect.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Dear sirs,
I'd like to appreciate your work, which helped me a lot. My question is " What is the difference between "help" and "help out"? I looked up that in Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary, but I did not completely figure out. Could you please give me a hand?

Sincerely yours

Reza

Hello Reza,

'Help out' is only used with people, whereas an object (a tool, a dictionary etc) many 'help' you. 'Help out' is often used when one person takes part of another's responsibility to make things easier. For example, if my friend is cleaning their house then I may 'help out' by doing the bathroom for him. 'Help' is the more general word and can be used in any context; 'help out' is more limited.

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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