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 Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Wed, 23/10/2019 - 07:39

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie,

Both 'for' and 'with' are possible. I think 'for' is more common, at least in UK English.

I suspect there are problems with articles in both sentences, however, though it is not possible to be sure without knowing the context in which the sentences appear.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Sat, 19/10/2019 - 17:34

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Hello, I would like to ask which of the following is correct 1.I still have some free teaching hours in maths or 2.I still have some free hours of teaching in maths Thank you in advance
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Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 21/10/2019 - 07:01

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie,

I think the first one is the more natural way to express this, but the second one is not grammatically incorrect. Without knowing the context and what you intend to express, however, it is impossible to say more.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Thu, 17/10/2019 - 11:23

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Hello, I would like to ask the following 1.Which preposition is correct: I would like to work at your school or in your school? 2. Is the expression I am a zero beginner correct? Thank you in advance
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Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 18/10/2019 - 06:45

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie,

I think the usual term is 'absolute beginner' (which is also the name of a musical starring David Bowie!).

In your sentence, I would say 'at school' is the best choice.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Wed, 16/10/2019 - 14:47

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Hello, I would like to ask about the following What is the difference between a flat and an apartment? Thank you in advance
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Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 17/10/2019 - 06:46

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie

They mean the same thing. 'flat' is more common in British English (though 'apartment' is also used) and speakers of American English only use 'apartment'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Tue, 15/10/2019 - 19:21

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Hello, I would like to ask which preposition suits better before the following noun 1.He is a French teacher and his interest in working in your/the language center OR 2. He is interested in working at your language center? Thank you in advance
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Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 20/10/2019 - 15:38

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie

2 sounds better to me.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Vitub on Thu, 10/10/2019 - 10:27

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Hello everyone, I faced with a problem an author did the title USING AN ARTICLES CHART with COMMON NOUNS. And it's very interesting there is used the article AN in front of the collocation ARTICLES CHART, in which as I think ARTICLES is a plural noun, and CHART is a singular noun. Firstly as I think it would be right to put the article "the" or altogether not used. Secondly the word ARTICLES mustn't be been a plural form then in this case it would be done the singular form. As a result it would be looked like that ARTICLE CHART, and before it there would be put the article THE i.e.THE ARTICLE CHART. So this title would be worked like that USING THE ARTICLE CHART with COMMON NOUNS. Please reply my question, what do you think about that? Thank you

Hello Vitub,

The phrase 'articles chart' is a compound noun and is best treated as a single unit rather than being analysed as two nouns separately. It's not unusual to see compound nouns like this (e.g. sports shoes, games site, exhibitions hall, parcels division).

It's perfectly fine to use an indefinite article before a singular compound noun. The implication is that there are many possible articles charts, and this is one example. Within the text, once referring back to an already-identified chart, you might use 'the', of course.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Thu, 03/10/2019 - 09:08

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Hello, I would like to ask if the following is correct 1.A zero beginner(in a language or in general) Does it make sense? And if so, is it polite to say it? Thank you in advance

Submitted by Vitub on Tue, 24/09/2019 - 20:28

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Hello Sirs, Reading an interesting story, King's Ransom, an original edition Ed McBain 1959, this simplified edidtion Oxford University Press 2008. I noticed a phrase "he'll get to be company president" there is absent the A article before words "company president" Please answer the question, did it make deliberately that author omitted the A article before words "company president"? As I think it must be looked like that "he'll get to be a company president" Thank you

Hello Vitub,

Both forms are possible, but there is a difference in meaning.

'He'll get to be a company president' means that he is capable of reaching this position in a company somewhere, but I do not have a specific company in mind.

'He'll get to be company president' means that I think he will reach a particular position in a particular company (presumably the one I or he work in).

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Sat, 07/09/2019 - 16:51

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Hello, I would like to ask which one of the following is correct When I am inside a bus in order Togo somewhere then I am on the bus or I am in the bus Example I can't talk to you right now I am on or in the bus? Thank you in advance
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 08/09/2019 - 06:56

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie,

The correct preposition here is 'on'. We say 'be on the bus', 'get on the bus' and 'get off the bus'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Jon Lin on Fri, 02/08/2019 - 04:50

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Is the following grammatically correct? Please find attached a copy of Document 1 and Document 2.

Hello Jon Lin

It sounds a bit strange to say 'a copy' when referring to two different documents. I'd say 'Please find attached copies of 1 and 2'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by amirfd on Fri, 17/05/2019 - 18:17

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Hello. do you have any suggestion or suggestions? any can be used before a singular countable noun with the meaning of it doesn’t matter who/which/what.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 18/05/2019 - 07:16

In reply to by amirfd

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Hello amirfd, As you say, it is possible to use 'any' before a singular countable noun when we want to particularly emphasise that any item is acceptable: > Pass me a book, would you? Any book - it doesn't matter which. However, when we are asking a question like in your example, we usually either use 'a' (asking for a single item) or 'any' with a plural noun: > Do you have a suggestion? > Do you have any suggestions? We might use 'any' with a singular noun for emphasis after this: > Do you have a suggestion? Any suggestion at all? ~ Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Risa warysha on Mon, 25/03/2019 - 12:08

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Hi Sir, I'd like to ask this phrase. 'ratings period' n 'rating period'. Why the first phrase uses 's' in word rating? Is it allowed to use s (plural noun)? Thank you for the answer
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Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 26/03/2019 - 06:21

In reply to by Risa warysha

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Hi Risa warysha, As you say, the word 'ratings' here is plural. We can use 'rating' as a singular noun when we are talking about a particular score: "This product has a very high rating on the website." However, when we are talking about the system we always use the plural form: "We use a ratings system to monitor customer satisfaction." Peter The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Andrew.int on Sun, 10/03/2019 - 09:33

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Hi Sir This question is under count nouns. For e.g. Those books are for sale. These computers are expensive. Are those sentences correct? I have used determiners 'those and these' with plural nouns. Please let me know. Thank you. Regards Lal
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Submitted by Kirk on Sun, 10/03/2019 - 17:58

In reply to by Andrew.int

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Hello Lal

Yes, both of those sentences are grammatically correct. Whether they are correct for a specific context or not depends on the specific situation.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Zeeshan Siddiqii on Tue, 05/03/2019 - 03:42

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Can we say: The baby was in her stomach? Or 'womb' is necessary to put in here? Secondly, is the word 'baby' suitable for the fetus?

Hello Zeeshan Siddiqii,

You can say this. Obviously, it's not a medically correct description and a doctor would be unlikely to describe a pregnancy in such terms, but we often say this kind of thing to children, for example, or say in her tummy.

 

Baby is used very widely for an unborn child at any stage of a pregnancy. Obviously, the scientific terms are more specific: zygote, embryo and fetus.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Tue, 19/02/2019 - 20:27

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Hello, I would like to ask about the following. When we use the word character and when we use the word personality? Do they have the same meaning? or there is any different? Can we say That person has a good personality AND/OR That person has a good character Thank you in advance
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Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 20/02/2019 - 06:24

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie

In some cases they can mean much the same thing, but in general when we speak about a person's character, we're thinking more of characteristics that they develop over time and are associated with their beliefs and actions. Their personality, in contrast, is more innate, i.e. they are born with the personality they have.

By the way, you can often find explanations of the difference between two words by doing an internet search for 'what's the difference between character and personality'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Hamdy Ali on Sat, 16/02/2019 - 19:29

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How are you ? Can we use( lots of or a lot of) in negative sentences or should we replace them with (much and many) ? Thank you.

Hello Hamdy Ali,

You can use lots of and a lot of in negative sentences. For example

I don't have a lot of time.

 

You can also use much and many, of course.

 

The difference is very slight and in most contexts you can use either. I would say that not much means there is only a small amount. In some contexts, not a lot of could mean that the amount is not great, but is not necessarily small either.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Wed, 13/02/2019 - 08:00

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Hello, I would like to ask if the following is correct There are films that last about 2 hours, but there are films that may last from 6 minutes to 30 minutes. For the second ones, we say that this is a short film? If we see a part from a movie( 2 minutes) a specific scene, then we say that we saw a specific scene? Thank you in advance
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Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 16/02/2019 - 14:05

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie

Yes, that's right. Well, I'm not completely sure about the time limit for short films, but yes, in general films of that length are referred to as 'short films'.

A 'scene' refers to a sequence in the film that is one place or one action in some way. If you are talking about a part of a film where there is more than one scene, or that is shorter than an entire scene, a better word might be 'clip', which just refers to a segment of unspecified nature.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by dipakrgandhi on Sun, 03/02/2019 - 16:28

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I have seen many hotels in our area having name like this : HOTEL 'PROPER NOUN' INN Is it correct to use both 'Hotel' and 'Inn' in a single name ? Is it not redundant ? Your view ?

Hello dipakrgandhi,

I can't really comment on this as I'm not sure I understand what you mean without an example. In any case, English is a constantly evolving langauge with a descriptive rather than a prescriptive grammar – in other words, the rules of English describe how it is actually used, rather than trying to be a system which must be followed. If a certain naming convention is in common use then it becomes correct by default, and the rules of grammar change to represent this.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

I will use my name here : 'Hotel Dipak Inn' . Now are the words 'hotel' and 'inn' redundant in meaning ? Should we not use either hotel or inn - and not the both - in a single name ?

Hello dipakrgandhi

As Peter says, it depends on the context, but in general I agree with you when you say it's redundant. I'd probably say either 'The Dipak Hotel' or 'The Dipak Inn' and not use both words.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Sat, 19/01/2019 - 11:32

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Hello, I would like to know which of the following is correct? Website, website or Web site? Thank you in advance

Submitted by anie1 on Thu, 17/01/2019 - 19:32

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Hello, I would like to ask what is the difference between the word biography and autobiography. Thank you in advance

Submitted by anie1 on Thu, 17/01/2019 - 07:41

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Hello, I would like to know if the word landline is used in British English as well. I think the word is used in American English? Thank you in advance
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Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 17/01/2019 - 09:03

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie

Yes, this word is commonly used in both American and British English.

Best wishes

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by anie1 on Tue, 27/11/2018 - 00:09

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Hello, I would like to ask what is the difference between the two following words Air conditioner and air condition Thank you in advance
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Submitted by Peter M. on Tue, 27/11/2018 - 05:53

In reply to by anie1

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Hello agie,

An air conditioner is a machine which controls the temperature in a building or car, enabling us to set it to a comfortable level.

Air condition describes how the air is in a particular locality and means the same as 'the condition of the air': The air condition in the city today is very bad, with high levels of pollution.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Mon, 15/10/2018 - 21:41

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Please help me to understand the use of these two words The mountain is too dangerous to (climb - be climbed). The ladder is too long to (put - be put) on the car. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

Both options are possible and can be used interchangeably.

In terms of the grammar, the difference is in the choice of an active voice infinitive (to put) or a passive voice infinitive (to be put). We can rephrase the sentences as follows:

The ladder is too long (for me/someone) to put on the car.

The ladder is too long to be put (by me/someone) on the car.

 

This page deals with count nouns rather than active and passive voice. Please try to post questions on relevant pages as it helps to keep the site organised. Your questions and our answers may be helpful to other users learning about the topic and they will find the information more easily if it is on a relevant page.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Ahmed Imam on Fri, 12/10/2018 - 09:01

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Please, Help me to differentiate between these two words, (each, both). Some colleagues say that "both" is the only correct one but some others argue that "each" is also correct. My parents each/both have a mobile phone. Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

In this example both words are possible.

In general, 'each' refers to the individuals separately, while 'both' refers to them as a pair. In some situations this is important. For example:

There were two boys. I gave each £10 to each. [£10 for one and £10 for the other]

There were two boys. I gave £10 to both. [this could mean £10 for one and £10 for the other, or it could mean £10 for them to share]

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Some of my colleagues say that "each" is not correct as it must have a singular verb "has", what do you say? Thank you.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

My answer was in the first reply: In this example both words are possible.

In modern English many people use a plural verb after 'each'. In fact, I would say that it is far more common now to use a plural verb than it is to use a singular verb. It is an example of how the language changes over time.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team