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

Hello ninoosha,

When we use a plural collective noun like 'pieces', 'lots', 'sets' and so on we use a plural verb. Therefore 'are' is correct here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Peter,
Thank you for your reply.
What about when I use a determiner like some? would it still follow the same rule you mentioned?
it may sound strange but I found both form of the verb after that, i.e. there are some furniture left / there is some furniture left
OR there was some old furniture / there were some old furniture

Regards

Hello ninoosha,

'Furniture' is a uncount noun and is always singular. Therefore we would use a singular verb and say 'is' or 'was'. Using a plural verb here would not be correct.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello , I saw the following sentence in an English exercise book.

"With the development of smart card technology, it will have possibly in the near future that you need to carry only one card . "

It asked where the two mistakes in the sentence are.

I don't know if the "of" is to be replaced by "in", or "will" to be replaced by "may" for the first answer?

That is : "development of" to be "development in" ? or "it will have " to be "it may have"?

"possibly" to be replaced by "possibility" or "possibilities" for the second answer?

Please tell me the two answers with explanation. Thank you.

Hello tssang,

I'm afraid we don't provide answers for tasks from outside of our own pages. If we did, then we would end up doing everyone's homework and tests for them!

Your book should have a key with it which contains the answers. Failing that, you can ask your teacher for help.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, if travel is an uncount noun, then is the sentence "In all his travels he studied only the phenomena of nature and human life." wrong?

Hello umakanthan,

No, the sentence is not wrong. 'Travel' is uncountable when it describes the concept of moving from place to place, as in the well-known saying travel broadens the mind, for example.

However, in certain contexts it is possible to use 'travel' as an alternative to 'journey' and then it can be countable. It has limited use, however. We would not use it to describe our own journey in normal conversation, but rather in the kind of context you have above: biographies and literary works.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir, I can hope you are fine; therefore, I strongly need your help for the following sentences regarding Nouns/adjectives Complement. 1)He is a boy.( In this sentence the complement is a noun.) 2)He is good.( In this sentence the complement is an adjective .) 3)He is a good boy.( In this last sentence both an adjective and a noun are used so what complement,so should it be called?) Thanks a million in advance.(Advanced.)

Hello again nadarali1996,

'a' is a determiner, 'good' is an adjective and 'boy' is the noun. All together they form a noun phrase that is in this sentence functioning as a complement. You can learn more about this on our noun phrase page.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

 

Thank you very much , sir, and it is nice of you that you have cleared my mind.

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