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 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.

hello, i'm new in here.

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 please help me I want to improve my grammar . Thanks

Hello akbarganje,

I think many of our users would like to improve their grammar, so you are not alone! The best place to start is our Help section, where we have put advice and tips for users on a variety of topics, including grammar. You can also use the grammar sections on LearnEnglish as a resource. Choose areas which you already know but find tricky or with which you have problems before moving on to completely new areas. Finally, although we cannot offer lessons on the site we do try to answer questions on specific examples here in the comments sections, so if you come across a particuarly puzzling example you can ask about it and we'll try to help.

 

Best wishes and good luck,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello! I have a question about nouns potato,bean,cabbage, onion, tomato. I know that they are countable. But can these nouns be used as uncountable and when? When we can say: How much potato(os) (bean/beans, etc)?

Hello belka30,

Many of them can be used as uncount nouns. For example, 'potato' can be used as an uncount noun - follow the link to the dictionary entry - note that it says [C or U] (which means 'count or uncount'). In general, however, these are used more often as count nouns. 

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

hi peter,
in this sentence that's a good idea can we use a in that

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