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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

I'm wondering if "water" is countable or uncountable. For example, is there any difference in meaning between crystal clear water and crystal clear waters? ;)

Hello Rafaela1,

Water is generally uncountable. However, we can say waters when we are talking about a body of water, especially an ocean or sea.

The dictionary offers this definition:

waters plural

(1): a band of seawater abutting on the land of a particular sovereignty and under the control of that sovereignty

(2): the sea of a particular part of the earth

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/water

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello,
I don't understand why bread is uncountable..

Hello mrshk,

Bread is uncountable in English because we use it to mean the foodstuff rather than a single item. When we talk about items we use phrases like this:

a loaf of bread

a slice of bread

a piece of bread

a crust of bread

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

When we use "some" in a question expecting the answer will be 'yes', what answer would be possible if the answer is 'no'?

Q: Have you got some new glasses?
A: No, I haven't got any glasses.
No, you're wrong.
No, I've got no glasses.
No, wish I had.

Hello Rafaela1,

Many responses are possible. You're right that the question suggests an answer, so a negative response is a form of contradiction:

No, actually I haven't.

No, I haven't. Why do you ask?

No, but I wish I had!

It really depends on what the speaker (responder) wants to say and what the two people's relationship is. 

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you Peter!
Interesting. ;)

Hello,

,,when we are offering something or asking for something, we normally use some''. Is it correct to use ,,any'' Ex: Do you want any money?

Hello Ninel_Georgia,

We typically use 'any' in questions, but it's also OK to use 'some' if you expect people to say 'yes', or if you want to encourage them to say 'yes'.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you very much for the reply.

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