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

Grouping_MTYwODI

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

GapFillDragAndDrop_MTYwODM

Common uncount nouns 3

GapFillTyping_MTYxMjY

 

Comments

Hello nishantaims,

This is explained on our time and dates page. I'd encourage you to use our search box - see the small magnifying glass at the top right of every page - as it might help you find answers to your questions.

Please also note that writing in all CAPITAL LETTERS in English is like shouting when speaking, which is generally considered impolite by most English speakers. I'd suggest you not write this way, as some people might misunderstand.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Ok sir. I won't write in capital letters! Thanks!

Hi there,
So abstract nouns are mass nouns, no plural forms, aren't they?
But some nouns in term of philosophy such as morals, beliefs, ethics,.... do take plural form but I feel they are as abstraction category!
Many thanks!

Hello Agnes,

Many abstract nouns are uncount nouns, though there some are count nouns. Some of them are always plural, and others can be plural and singular.

If you look up 'ethics' in the dictionary, you'll see that it is an uncount noun, but there is a singular form for 'beliefs'. 'morals' is always plural, though the word 'moral' exists. Please take a closer look at all of these words in the dictionary and then let us know if you have any questions about them.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk,

1. Especially, "Ethics" are treated as plural and singular noun as Oxford Dictionary Online
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/ethics
E.g ‘neither metaphysics nor ethics is the home of religion’
So in this context, is "ethics" treated as uncountable or countable noun?
2. Belief(s) - there are some examples for both singular and plural noun as Oxford Dictionary Online
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/belief
3. Moral(s) - - there are some examples for both singular and plural noun as Oxford Dictionary Online
E.g ‘the moral of this story was that one must see the beauty in what one has’

Many thanks!

Hello Agnes,

In the phrase about ethics that you quote, 'ethics' seems to refer to a branch of knowledge and moreover is used with a singular verb. In this context, I'd say it looks more like a count noun that appears plural but which is singular (as Oxford suggests) than an uncount noun (as Cambridge suggests). 

Some words, like 'belief(s)' and 'moral(s)', are used in many different ways depending on their context. You're welcome to cite one or two specific examples here, tell us how you see the word in question in its context, and then we can confirm whether you've understood it correctly or not, but I'm afraid we get too many comments and have too much other work to be able to give explanations for many different example sentences in the dictionary.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk,

As Cambridge reference, I understand that there are also uncountable plural forms, aren't they?
Though as the rule is cited here "Some nouns in English are uncount nouns.We do not use uncount nouns in the plural". That's a quite point I am noticing about.

Many thanks!

How is the word "information" pronounced in French?

Hello alicewirek,

I'd suggest you check a French dictionary to hear a native French pronunciation of this word. For example, the Larousse Dictionary has this.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
Can we use 'it' as the pronoun for collective noun such as a team. For example, is the following sentence correct?
Though England lost eight wickets, it scored 300 runs.
Thanks

Pages