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 marshood,

If you look up 'idea', you'll see it is a count noun. So, yes, in fact you should use 'a' in most cases, unless the good idea you're referring to is already known or has been mentioned, in which case you should use 'the'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,
I have to ask that we can count money in numeral so why we say that "Money" is uncount noun. as the mentioned above money is uncount noun.

Hello Imran 26,

It might be helpful to think that there's always a way to count anything physical, but words like 'money' allow us to think about these things in general. In any case, I'm afraid that's just the way English is. It reminds me of the word 'baksheesh', which is also uncount – not sure if it is in Urdu or not, but perhaps it is and that might help you think about it.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

thank you Sir Kirk.

Hello. I was wondering about uncountable nouns that have a plural form, yet they take singular verbs. For example:
News is very important because...
Although ''news'' takes singular verb, ''glasses'' takes a plural verb:
These glasses are perfect, and I can see...

How can I understand what to use?

Thank you.

Hello MCWSL,

'news' is an uncount noun, but 'glasses' is a plural count noun – this is why the first takes a singular verb and the second a plural verb.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
I want to make sure using parts of 'be' with uncount nouns. Help me to make this clear. Could I say: 'There are some furniture in the room.'
'Some equipment in the work shop are unserviceable.'
Thank you in advance.
Regards
Andrew international

Hello Andrew international,

Only count nouns can have plural forms and take plural verbs. Uncount nouns require singular verbs. Therefore, you should use is and not are in your sentences.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Dear Sir
Thank you very much for your reply regarding uncount nouns and matching verb.
Please clarify this too: There are only a few pieces of furniture.( a part of the exercise you have given) Could I say 'those are useful pieces of equipment.' (my own sentence)
Thank you.
Regards
Andrew international

Hello Andrew international,

Yes, that would work.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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