Count nouns

Learn about count nouns (or countable nouns) and do the exercises to practise using them.

Count nouns have two forms: singular and plural.

Singular count nouns refer to one person or thing:

a teacher a book a wish an idea

Plural count nouns refer to more than one person or thing:

teachers books wishes ideas

Singular count nouns

Singular count nouns cannot be used alone. They must have a determiner:

the English teacher that book a wish my latest idea
Singular count nouns 1

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Singular count nouns 2

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Plural count nouns

We usually add –s to make a plural noun:

book > books
school > schools
friend > friends

We add –es to nouns ending in –s, –ch, –sh, –ss, –x and –o:  

class > classes
watch > watches
gas > gases
wish > wishes
box > boxes
potato > potatoes

When a noun ends in a consonant and –y, we make the plural with –ies:

lady > ladies
country > countries
party > parties

If a noun ends in a vowel and –y, we simply add –s:

boy > boys
day > days
play > plays

Some common nouns have irregular plurals:

man > men
woman > women
child > children
person > people
foot > feet
Plural count nouns 1

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Plural count nouns 2

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Plural count nouns do not have a general determiner when they refer to people or things in general:

Computers are very expensive.
Do you sell old books?

But they may have a specific determiner:

Those computers are very expensive.
The books in that shop are very expensive. 
Her sisters live there.

or a quantifier:

some new books a few teachers lots of good ideas

or a numeral:

two new books three wishes
Plural count nouns 3

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Plural count nouns 4

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Plural count nouns 5

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Profile picture for user Ahmed Imam

Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Wed, 10/10/2018 - 20:25

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Are "every" and "each" in this sentence correct? 2- To solve the economic problem, every/each citizen must pay taxes. Thank you.

Hello again Ahmed Imam,

Yes, both are possible here – please see my comment just below for an explanation of the difference between 'each' and 'every'.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Wed, 10/10/2018 - 20:19

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Please help me to understand the use of these two words (each, every). Ex: Tom has seen a lot of films this month. He enjoyed each/every one of them. Are both of them correct or only one? Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

It's possible to use either 'each' or 'every' in this sentence. There is a slight different of emphasis between them, though essentially the mean the same thing. If you say 'each', you put more emphasis on each individual film – it's as if you were imagining Tom enjoying one film at a time. If you say 'every', there is no emphasis on each individual film – you imagine them more as a group than with 'each'.

Sometimes people use both and say 'each and every one of them'. This is just another way emphasising that he liked each film.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ihsan_qwerty on Tue, 09/10/2018 - 00:07

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hi which one is correct: you are a student you are students -------------------------- you are a doctor you are doctors --------------------------- you are a great team you are great teams thank you in advance. you are AMAZING
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 09/10/2018 - 06:01

In reply to by ihsan_qwerty

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Hi ihsan_qwerty,

All of those sentences are correct. The first sentences in each pair are about one person or one team and the second sentences are about more than one.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by dipakrgandhi on Tue, 11/09/2018 - 14:31

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why do they say 'Innings' even when they refer to a single inning in cricket ?

Hello dipakrgandhi,

There is no word 'inning'. The singular form and the plural form are the same: innings.

For example, you can say 'Cook's last innings was magnificent' or 'Kohli has played many fine innings for his country'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thank you. Is there a word ' Inning ' which refers to Baseball. This is what I understand from Cambridge Dictionary entry for ' Inning'. The another thing I would like to know is when to put 'full stop' inside the quotation mark and when to put it outside. Thanking you Regards Dipak Gandhi
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Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 13/09/2018 - 08:00

In reply to by dipakrgandhi

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Hello dipakrgandhi,

I'm not familar with the use of the term in US English, I'm afraid. In British English 'innings' is used for the singular and plural forms. I can ask my colleague Kirk, who is from the US, to comment on this.

The rules for punctuation of direct speech and quotations are summarised here.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 13/09/2018 - 08:07

In reply to by dipakrgandhi

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Hello Dipak,

In the context of baseball, the word 'inning' is singular and 'innings' is plural. There are usually nine innings in a professional baseball game (or six or seven in non-professional games), so people often use an ordinal number to speak of which inning it is, e.g. 'the second inning', etc. Within each inning, each team 'goes to bat', i.e. has the chance to hit the ball and score runs.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Sun, 26/08/2018 - 13:04

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Hello Sir Please help me to understand this word properly. Bi linguist- I refereed to Cambridge online dictionary and it states: (of a person) able to use two languages equally well. I would like to know 'two languages mean inclusive mother language or besides mother language. mother language and two other languages.All together three. Thank you. Regards Lal

Hello Lal,

'bilingual' typically means two languages. What the relationship the speaker has with the two languages varies quite a bit, but in general I expect there are more bilinguals who feel stronger in one language than the other. The word 'bilingual' doesn't make any differentiation between these kind of people and what we could call perhaps 'true bilinguals', i.e. people for whom both languages are equally strong.

Sometimes people use 'bilingual' to mean 'multilingual' (a speak of more than one language), but in theory a bilingual speaks only two languages fluently.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Sun, 01/07/2018 - 20:25

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Could You help me, Please? When I want to order a meal, which word is correct? - Half (chicken - a chicken) with rice. Thank you

Hi Ahmed Imam,

I would say either 'half a chicken' or 'a half chicken', probably the first more than the second.

Now I'm hungry!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by daisy9 on Thu, 21/06/2018 - 09:37

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Dear teacher As I quote: "Plural count nouns do not have a determiner when they refer to people or things as a group: Computers are very expensive. Do you sell old books?" According to this, so the sentence "Can you sell my old books?" is wrong? Thank you Daisy9

Hi Daisy9,

No, your question is not wrong. You make a good point and I will make a note to improve the wording of that explanation. The difference here is that in your question, a specific set of old books is being talked about, whereas in the question that is used as an example on this page, the books are not a specific group the speaker has in mind.

I can see how the explanation doesn't make this distinction, though, so we are grateful for your feedback.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by dipakrgandhi on Sat, 26/05/2018 - 07:28

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This is the headline in newspaper : Monsoon in south Andaman Sea; good rains for state till mid-June My question : 'good rains' ; is the rain countable , can we make it plural

Hello dipakrgandhi,

'rain' is uncountable, but the word is also used in the plural to refer to the rainy season in the tropics. This is why it's used that way here.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Vitub on Mon, 14/05/2018 - 15:16

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Hello everyone, I found the phrase "How we talk about things matters.", is that grammatically correct? Source: Facebook, American Association for State and Local History As I think "things" and "matters" are plural noun objects in this case, do you agree with it, please tell me? Thank you

Hello Vitub,

The sentence is grammatically correct. The reason a singular verb is used is that the subject is not 'things' but rather the whole noun phrase 'the way we talk about things'. The key part here is 'way', which is singular. If we changed it to 'the ways we talk about things' then a plural verb would be needed.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by zahidur on Thu, 10/05/2018 - 09:43

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I was very confused about noun. Now I think I am learning from this website. This website is best to improve my English skills. This lesson is very understandable.

Submitted by Jovan on Fri, 20/04/2018 - 23:12

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Hi Amirfd, The second sentence is definitely correct. The first one is almost correct; if you add the indefinite article before the noun 'apple', the sentence becomes grammatically correct. "There is not an apple in the fridge." However you wouldn't usually use this construction to express the idea conveyed by the": "There are not any apples in the fridge."

Submitted by amirfd on Fri, 20/04/2018 - 02:34

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Hello. There is no apple in the fridge. There are not any apples in the fridge. which one is wrong? Why?
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Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 20/04/2018 - 07:08

In reply to by amirfd

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Hello amirfd,

Both sentences are possible.

The second sentence (not any apples) would be used if you are talking about whole apples, as they are countable.

The first sentence (no apple) would be used if you are talking about pieces of apple, as this would be uncountable.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jovan on Sun, 18/02/2018 - 17:30

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Collective nouns can take a singular verb, and a plural verb 'be', depending on how the speaker perceives the particular noun. For example, if we look at the noun 'crew' as one entity we can say: The BBC TV crew at the Olympic Games in South Korea is a large one. If we look upon the crew as a collection of many individuals, we can use a plural form of the verb: The BBC TV crew are mostly young, university graduates, who speak and understand Korean. ‘Team ‘ is another such a noun, for example: Manchester City is the best team in the Premier League this season. Or Manchester City team are very fast, very skilful, and very prolific!

Submitted by SonuKumar on Fri, 16/02/2018 - 06:15

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Sir, I'm really sorry, I'm never going to do it again. I asure. Actually I misunderstood the word much as a adjective. I should have checked its entry out in the dictionary and then asked to you in case anything was left un-understood. I started wrongly, I'm sorry. I'll keep that in mind and not do that again.

Submitted by SonuKumar on Tue, 13/02/2018 - 11:28

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Sir, This is very much information or This information is very much. I think the one below is right isn't it ? A bit or a little bit information or sugar or water Or A bit of or a little bit of information sugar or water. which are correct here the ones with a bit or a bit of ?
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Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 13/02/2018 - 19:15

In reply to by SonuKumar

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Hello SonuKumar,

Normally, 'a lot' is used instead of 'much' in positive statements: 'This is a lot of information'. I don't understand what exactly you mean by 'This information is very much' -- perhaps 'This information is very useful'? 

You can say 'a bit of water' or 'a little water' or 'a little bit of water' -- they all mean the same thing.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team