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 panjie,

Welcome to LearnEnglish! I'm sure you'll have a great time improving your English with us. To get started, I recommend taking a look at our help pages, which you can find here. Just click on the links to see our best tips and suggestions.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter,

I am also a new member here, but found this is very interesting program for busy people like me to improve our language. Much appreciated for your help.

Best regards

Hello. Is this sentence correct? The two foods which we ate at restaurant were good.If not please write the correct form. Thanks a lot

Hello Mohammad56,

It's hard to be certain without knowing the full context but I would expect that the correct form would be:

The two foods which we ate at the restaurant were good.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I think the correct way to say that sentence would be:

The two types of food that we ate at the restaurant were good.

Hey,

is "food" considered as uncount noun. If yes, can you tell me if this sentence is correct?
"7 foods that make you feel gross"

Please advise

Hello aesa006,

That sentence is correct. 'Food' can be both count and uncount. When we use it to mean 'types of food' or 'foodstuffs' we use it as a count noun.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,

I would like to ask regarding this topic as i have seen that machinery & equipment are words that are included for uncount noun.
Does this mean that we cannot say machineries & equipments because both dont have any plural forms? Or is it because this topic focuses only for "british english" not the US one.

Please advise

Hell aesa006,

As you say, 'machinery' and 'equipment' are uncount nouns and so no plural forms are used in standard English. This is the same for British and US (and other) Englishes.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Wow! It seems like I'm living in the dark my whole life and thought that there is "machineries".
Thank you for this enlightenment and to your whole team!

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