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Countable and uncountable nouns 1

Do you know how to use a, some, any, much and many?

Look at these examples to see how to use countable and uncountable nouns in a sentence.

I'm making a cup of tea.
There's some money on the table.
Have we got any bread?
How many chairs do we need?
How much milk have we got?

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Countable and uncountable nouns 1: Grammar test 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

Nouns can be countable or uncountable. Countable nouns can be counted, e.g. an apple, two apples, three apples, etc. Uncountable nouns cannot be counted, e.g. air, rice, water, etc. When you learn a new noun, you should check if it is countable or uncountable and note how it is used in a sentence.

Countable nouns

For positive sentences we can use a/an for singular nouns or some for plurals.

There's a man at the door.
I have some friends in New York.

For negatives we can use a/an for singular nouns or any for plurals.

I don't have a dog.
There aren't any seats.

Uncountable nouns

Here are some examples of uncountable nouns:

bread rice coffee information
money advice luggage furniture

We use some with uncountable nouns in positive sentences and any with negatives.

There's some milk in the fridge.
There isn't any coffee.

Questions

In questions we use a/an, any or how many with countable nouns.

Is there an email address to write to?
Are there any chairs?
How many chairs are there?

And we use any or how much with uncountable nouns.

Is there any sugar?
How much orange juice is there?

But when we are offering something or asking for something, we normally use some.

Do you want some chocolate?
Can we have some more chairs, please?

We also use some in a question when we think the answer will be 'yes'.

Have you got some new glasses?

Other expressions of quantity

A lot of (or lots of) can be used with both countable and uncountable nouns.

There are lots of apples on the trees.
There is a lot of snow on the road
.

Notice that we don't usually use many or much in positive sentences. We use a lot of instead.

They have a lot of money.

However, in negative sentences we use not many with countable nouns and not much with uncountable nouns.

There are a lot of carrots but there aren't many potatoes.
There's lots of juice but there isn't much water.

Go to Countable and uncountable nouns 2 to learn more.

Try this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Countable and uncountable nouns 1: Grammar test 2

Language level

Beginner: A1
Pre-intermediate: A2

Comments

Hello Sir,

Please tell me why 'a' is used with coffee in this sentence?

"I stopped on the way home to get a coffee."

Thank you

Hello Navreet Bhardwaj,

We can say a coffee when we mean a cup of coffee.

A teaa beer and a whiskey all work in a similar way. With water and milk, however, we need to say a cup of... or a glass of.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,

I want to learn about tenses. Can you please link me to that page on your website. I searched tenses on BC website; I found some other stuff that was amazing but I did not get tenses.
Sorry to bother you.

Thank you :)

Hello Navreet Bhardwaj

You can find what you're looking for in the Verbs section of our English Grammar reference. If you look at the menu in the box on the right, you'll see lots of different options.

We're happy to help you find what you're looking for on LearnEnglish. Enjoy!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Sir

Lots of love for BC team

Hello,
In exercise 8 my answer was “any” but it says it is not correct. I understand the use of “much” in this context however I wonder why not using “ any” if you want to mean there is no toothpaste at all. Can someone comment on this, please?
Thanks

Hello ElaineFerraz

You are right: 'any' is also a correct answer for test 1 question 8. I will fix that as soon as I can.

Sorry for the confusion!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

In grammar test 1 number 7, the correct answer are "any" or "many". but why in number 8 the correct answer is just only "much"? can we put on "any" as well?
because in explanation, uncountable nouns in negative sentences using "any"

Hello Dimas wicaksono

You are right: 'any' is also a correct answer for test 1 question 8. I will fix that as soon as I can.

Sorry for the confusion!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir,
My doubt is related to question 7.
I have bought some new shoes but I did not get a shirt.

I got the first part right : I have bought some new shoes.

But I did not get why we used 'a' with shirt?

Is 'I have bought some new shoes but I did not get any shirt. ' wrong?

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