Uncount nouns

Learn about uncount nouns (or uncountable nouns) and do the exercises to practise using them.

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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Submitted by g-ssan on Wed, 27/07/2022 - 15:21

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Hello sir ,

Can we say one , two , three information or advice ?

Because I heard many native say that .

Hi g-ssan,

No, because "information" and "advice" are uncountable. If you want to say the number, a countable word such as "piece(s)" or "bit(s)" needs to be added. For example:

  • one piece of information
  • three bits of advice

I can't explain why you may have heard other people say that, but I can assure you that "one/two/three information" (etc.) is considered incorrect.

I hope that helps.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nagie23 on Wed, 24/03/2021 - 23:33

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Hello, I would like to ask if a traid mill and a corridor have the same meaning, and both can be used in sports and exercising Thank you in advance
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Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 25/03/2021 - 07:39

In reply to by Nagie23

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Hello Nagie23,

You can find the answer to this sort of question in a good dictionary. A corridor refers to a space inside a larger space, whereas a treadmill is a kind of machine or has a meaning related to that.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Samin on Thu, 04/02/2021 - 15:23

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Hello tell me please which is the correct way- Amir spends all his energy/energies for sports and none is left for his study/studies. Kindly explain. Your parents should explain your frequent absence/ absences. If you drink from this river people believe you will never suffer from any illness/illnesses.

Hello Samin,

The correct choice in the first sentence is 'energy' as it is an uncountable noun in this context.

In the second sentence the plural form is correct ('absences') as it refers to multiple instances.

In the third sentence both answers are possible. Generally, we would use the plural ('sicknesses') here but it's possible to use the singular form to mean '...from any (kind of) sickness'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Samin on Sun, 31/01/2021 - 06:22

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Hello please clarify, in these sentences what type of noun they are- Take your medicine after every meal Meal -uncountable/ countable The sand on the beach is clean Beach- countable /uncountable

Hello Samin,

In the first sentence, 'meal' is a count noun. This is because the quantifier 'every' is only used with count nouns. You can also check this in the dictionary -- if you follow the first link, you'll see [ C ] just above the definition. This indicates it is a count noun. ([ U ] is used with uncount nouns.)

'beach' is also a count noun.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by CHÉKYTAN on Wed, 09/09/2020 - 07:27

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Dear Sir, Can we use specific determiners with uncount nouns?
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Submitted by Jonathan R on Wed, 09/09/2020 - 16:21

In reply to by CHÉKYTAN

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Hi Chekytan,

Yes, we can! For example, money is an uncount noun, and we can say the money, my money, this money or whose money. These are all specific determiners. 

You can find more examples and exercises on our grammar page on Specific and general determiners.

I hope that helps.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by OlaIELTS on Mon, 20/07/2020 - 13:56

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The tip is helpful. Thanks.

Submitted by Navreet Bhardwaj on Sat, 09/05/2020 - 09:42

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Hello sir, Please tell me is the sentence ' I went to home and gave that sad bit of news to my parents.' correct?
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Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 09/05/2020 - 14:16

In reply to by Navreet Bhardwaj

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Hello Navreet Bhardwaj

Except for 'to' (it should be 'I went home' instead of 'I went to home'), yes, that is grammatically correct.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ridg Wick on Tue, 03/03/2020 - 20:38

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what is the definition of uncount noun and count noun,and how can we know that it's a uncount and count noun.

Hello Ridg Wick,

A count noun is one which can be plural. For example, we can say one chair (singular) but also two chairs, three chairs, a thousand chairs etc (all plural).

An uncount noun has no plural form. We can only talk about quantity, not number. For example, we can say some milk, some more milk, a lot of milk, a glass of milk, a litre of milk etc, and all of these have a singular noun. We do not say milks.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by learningenglishhard on Thu, 06/12/2018 - 02:33

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Hi! I am a bit confused about the following sentence: 'Our belief is that diversity and inclusion creates a positive workforce environment, but building a diverse workforce is also the smart business thing to do.' Why does a singular verb instead of a plural verb follow 'diversity and inclusion'? I thought 'diversity and inclusion' is a combination of two nouns which should be followed by a plural form. Is there a general rule that whenever two nouns (whether countable or uncountable) are linked together by 'and', they should be followed by a plural verb? Thanks a lot!

Hi learningenglishhard,

I would say that the verb in that sentence should be plural: '...diversity and inclusion create...'

I don't know the source for the sentence you quoted, but remember that even the most careful writers can make mistakes, especially when a text is edited and changed over time. For example, the text might once have said '...a focus on diversity and inclusion creates...', and then been edited to remove 'a focus on', leaving an ungrammatical verb.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Abfalter Cristian on Tue, 13/11/2018 - 11:30

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Hello ! I'am a bit confused about the uncount noun ''money''. Is it correct or wrong to say: few money or a lot of money ? Thank you in advance.

Hi Abfalter Cristian,

'a lot of money' is the correct option here. The opposite is 'little money'. In both cases, 'money' is an uncount noun.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Tue, 28/08/2018 - 10:10

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Hello Sir Thank you for explaining clearly 'how much luggage have you got?' Is it all right to say: how many pieces of luggage have you got? How much luggage has she got? How many pieces of luggage has she got? How many pieces of luggage are there? Thank you. Regards Lal

Hi Lal,

You're welcome! All of the sentences you ask about are correct -- good work.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Mon, 27/08/2018 - 13:23

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Hello Sir I would like to make this clear. How much luggage have you got?(from your web site) Is it all right to say 'How much furniture have you got? How much furniture is good?/ How much furniture are good? My problem : luggage is uncountable but you have used 'have' please help me to make this clear Thank you. Regards Lal

Hello Lal,

In the questions about how much luggage and furniture, the subject of the verb 'have' is 'you', which is why it is correct. The question 'How much furniture is good?' is correct because 'furniture' (like the word 'luggage') is uncount and therefore it takes a singular verb.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by jcsj1172 on Wed, 16/05/2018 - 09:13

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Perfect, but is very dificult to me.
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Submitted by Ali boroki on Tue, 15/05/2018 - 07:48

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Hello dear british council team. I'm a little confused between count and uncount nouns when we say "a wish or and idea "are count nouns and why do we say human feeling and qualities such as "fun or happiness are uncount nouns!!!??? What are the differences between them?? please make them clarify . Thank you in advance...dears.

Hi Ali boroki,

As far as I know, this just how English speakers see wishes, ideas, fun and happiness. I suppose once could say that a wish is count because it is usually for a specific thing and that an idea is similar, but of course you could argue that they are not so concrete and would make more sense as uncount nouns. But that's not how native speakers of English imagine these concepts.

The same is true of 'happiness' and 'fun' -- we just imagine these concepts as being uncountable and so the nouns are uncount.

I expect this may not be a very satisfying answer for you; if so, I'm sorry! On the other hand, this is one of the things that I enjoy about learning other languges -- you come to realise that there are so many different ways of seeing the world.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Marua on Sun, 18/03/2018 - 18:20

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Hello. I'm a little bit confused when it comes to this noun 'food', most of the times used as an uncountable noun. But I saw in different books, even in dictionaries 'foods'. Eg. 1. The fridge keeps food at a constant temperature. 2. Many snack foods are high in salt. What's the difference? Can we use 'food and foods' interchangeably in these 2 situations?
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Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 19/03/2018 - 08:10

In reply to by Marua

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Hello Marua,

'Food' is a word that is uncountable in most contexts. The uncountable form is always correct as far as I am aware, but there are some contexts in which we can it it as a countable noun. These are cases when we want to make it clear that we are talking about different types of food

Your first sentence is referring to whatever food is in the fridge without distinguishing between types so 'food' is correct. Your second sentence is referring to different types of a particular category of food - different types of snack food - so the countable form is appropriate here.

There are many nouns which function in a similar way, such as coffee, time and space.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team