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 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!

HELLO SIR, WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 'IN THE NIGHT' AND 'AT NIGHT'?
e.g. I WENT THERE IN THE NIGHT [OR AT NIGHT]?
e.g. I STUDY IN THE NIGHT [OR AT NIGHT]?
SOME SAY THAT 'AT NIGHT ' IS USED FOR ROUTINE WORK WE DO AND 'IN THE NIGHT' FOR A SPECIFIC INCIDENCE!

THANK YOU, SIRE!

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!

sir,
'Thomson's poetries are very charming.' what is wrong in this sentence?
'A poet and a writer is dead.' Why we can not use 'are' in place of 'is'?
'I saw two beautiful fish in the pond.' If i use 'fishes' in place of 'fish' then which type of mistake is this?

Hello A K Pathak,

We're happy to answer questions about the materials on our pages, or even (if time allows) more general questions about English or learning English. However, we don't provide answers for tasks from elsewhere (other sites, tests or homework) such as these questions.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,

"I bring fruit and vegetables from the market."
in this sentence can i use 'fruits' instead of 'fruit' ?

Hello A K Pathak,

Yes, you could say 'fruits' here. It would mean different kinds of fruit (some apples, some grapes, some peaches etc).

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi,
I want to ask you about "food" vs "foods". Can you explain to me the different between these two words?
when do we have to use "food" or "foods"?

Thanks

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