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

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Submitted by Saeomd93 on Tue, 25/08/2020 - 15:57

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If I add "any" in a sentence, it shows that it is already in a "negative" sentence right? Or I really need to put aren't or isn't, to show that is in a negative sentence. Ex: There's any kids at the mall.

Hello Saeomd93,

The negative verb is still needed. It's possible to use any in affirmative sentences with the meaning 'it doesn't matter which one':

Choose a card, any card.

I can take any day off I like.

This programme can open any graphics file.

 

When we use an affirmative verb, we use no to mean not any:

There aren't any kids at the mall.

There are no kids at the mall.

Note that a plural noun and a plural verb is used in both cases.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Pola on Sat, 15/08/2020 - 20:43

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Hi, If I want to say more information ,how can I say it by grammatic although "information" uncountable nouns
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 16/08/2020 - 06:25

In reply to by Pola

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Hi Pola,

It really depends what you want to say and what the context is.

If you are just talking about information in general, then more information is perfectly fine:

Hi. Could I have some more information about this, please?

 

If you want to talk about a single thing then you can use a piece of information:

I have one more thing to tell you and this is a very important piece of information so listen carefully.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by shiyashamsu on Sat, 25/07/2020 - 07:20

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I was able to study a lot things about countable and non countable nouns.

Submitted by Fajar Wibisana on Mon, 13/07/2020 - 08:09

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Hello Everyone, In a lesson above we found out that: """"Countable nouns For positive sentences we can use a/an for singular nouns or some for plurals.""""" why we use "some" rather than "many" for singular countable noun?

Hello Fajar Wibisana,

We do not use 'some' for singular countable nouns.

'Some' has a very general meaning. It could refer to a large number/amount or a small number/amount. It can be used with both uncountable nouns and plural countable nouns.

'Many' has a more specific meaning. It tells us that the number of items was large. 'Many' can only be used with plural countable nouns; the equivalent for uncountable nouns would be 'much'. Generally, however, we use 'much' and 'many' in negative sentences or questions. 'A lot of' is more common in affirmative sentences.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Claudia on Wed, 08/07/2020 - 19:36

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Hi everyone! Would it be possible to say "There isn't any space in the car" instead of "There isn't much space"? Thank you!

Hello Claudia,

Generally speaking, not any means zero, while not much means that there is a small amount. Both are grammatically possible; which is needed or preferred will depend on the context.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Marcos on Fri, 03/07/2020 - 14:31

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Hello Sir, I'd like to know in the question 2 of grammar test 1. Can I also use the indefinite article "a" before chicken for it being a countable noun?

Hello Marcos,

It is grammatically possible to say a chicken here, but some chicken is much more common when we are referring to food rather than thinking of the animal.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Alaa El Baddini on Thu, 25/06/2020 - 04:13

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The number of advice (is / are) Is there anything that's called "the number of advice"?!

Hello Alaa El Baddini,

Advice is an uncountable noun and we don't use it with number of.

You can say pieces of advice, and then a number of pieces of advice is possible.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by englishuser on Mon, 15/06/2020 - 19:23

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Are fruit/nut and fruits/nuts - both uncountable nouns? Why can’t the below sentences be correct ? Is it just the rules or more than that ? What is meant by positive sentence? You can have any juice. You can have some juice. Thanks

Hello englishuser,

Fruit and nut can be used as uncountable or countable nouns.

We use fruit in an uncountable sense when we are talking about a quantity of fruit which is not easily counted. This could be many pieces of fruit, for example, or one piece of a larger item. Thus we might say this to a guest: Would you like some fruit?

We use fruits as a countable noun to usually mean types of fruit. Thus, we might say this: I can buy many different fruits at my local market.

Nuts is generally used as a countable noun.

 

A positive or affirmative sentence is one which is not a question or a negative:

She lives in Paris. - positive/affirmative

Does she live in Paris? - question/interrogative

She doesn't live in Paris. - negative

 

You can have some juice is a correct sentence. It is an offer with the meaning If you want juice then it's OK.

You can have any juice is not correct as an offer as we would not use any in an affirmative sentence of this kind.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Dilnoza Sulaymonova on Fri, 12/06/2020 - 11:48

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hello everybody

Submitted by Navreet Bhardwaj on Wed, 13/05/2020 - 18:41

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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
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Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 14/05/2020 - 06:47

In reply to by Navreet Bhardwaj

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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 :)
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Submitted by Kirk on Fri, 15/05/2020 - 13:22

In reply to by Navreet Bhardwaj

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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

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Submitted by ElaineFerraz on Tue, 12/05/2020 - 21:06

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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
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Submitted by Kirk on Wed, 13/05/2020 - 08:26

In reply to by ElaineFerraz

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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

Submitted by Dimas wicaksono on Tue, 12/05/2020 - 01:23

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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

Submitted by Navreet Bhardwaj on Thu, 07/05/2020 - 18:46

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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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Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 08/05/2020 - 07:18

In reply to by Navreet Bhardwaj

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Hello Navreet Bhardwaj,

We use any with uncountable nouns (e.g. sugar, time, water) or with countable plural nouns (chairs, people, shirts). Thus, we could say '...but I did not get any shirts'.

However, if we have a singular countable noun (chair, person, shirt) then we cannot use any. We need to use either the indefinite article (a) or the definite article. (the). Thus, any shirt is not correct.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by H_L on Tue, 05/05/2020 - 19:45

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Hello, In the first grammar test number 8, can we say "There isn't any toothpaste." "any" is for count and uncount nouns and for negative and interrogative sentences, right? Also, in the second grammar test number 7, can we say "I've bought some new shoes but I didn't get any shirt."? If not, can you explain why? Thank you so much.

Submitted by Cannon Sensei on Thu, 23/04/2020 - 01:17

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On question 7 in Grammar Test 1, is "We have a lot of chairs but we don't have 'many' tables." incorrect?

Hello Cannon Sensei

You're right -- 'many' is also a possible answer for the second gap. I'll change the exercise so that it accepts that answer as well as 'any'.

Thanks for pointing this out to us.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rebecca Adiyelogun on Tue, 14/04/2020 - 15:53

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Hello team, Will it be wrong to write "I've bought many new shoes but I didn't get any shirt."

Submitted by Rebecca Adiyelogun on Tue, 14/04/2020 - 15:46

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Hello team, Can "many" be used for any plural count nouns? I have many books.
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Submitted by Kirk on Tue, 14/04/2020 - 16:19

In reply to by Rebecca Adiyelogun

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Hello Rebecca

Yes, you can use 'many' with plural count nouns, though people tend to use 'a lot of' instead of 'many' in affirmative statements, and to use 'many' more in negative statements (e.g. 'I don't have many books').

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rebecca Adiyelogun on Tue, 14/04/2020 - 15:43

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Hi, referring to grammar test 1 above: " I've bought some new shoes" Can I also write the sentence as shown below? " I've bought many new shoes"

Hello Rebecca

As I mention in my response to your comment above, we don't usually use 'many' in affirmative sentences like this one; instead we use 'a lot of'. Here the best option is 'some'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by marzieh on Mon, 13/04/2020 - 15:22

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Hello, This section is boring, it is better to use images in the grammar section.

Submitted by MehdiParsa on Mon, 06/04/2020 - 22:57

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I would like to thank your team for incredible lessons and tests. We know that ''people'' is a non-count noun, however, ''How many'' is used for one of your tests "How many people are coming?" instead of "How much" I would be thankful if you could give me more information about this.

Hello MehdiParsa,

People is a count noun. It is an irregular plural form, but otherwise it functions as a normal plural count noun:

one person

two people

The person is waiting for you.

The people are waiting for you.

 

The correct question, therefore, is How many people...?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by CLAUDIA SORICELLI on Thu, 12/03/2020 - 11:38

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can i have more information about the difference between a lot of and lots of? thanks

Hello Claudia,

There is no difference in meaning or grammatical use. Lots of is more informal than a lot of.  You'll hear lots of more in speech than writing, and more between friends than in official or formal contexts.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by wcyam10 on Thu, 27/02/2020 - 05:49

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In negative sentences, can we used "any" interchangeably with "much" with uncountable nouns?

Hello wcyam10

You can use both 'any' and 'much' with uncount nouns, but they have a different meaning. 'We didn't have any petrol' means that we had no petrol. 'We had didn't have much petrol' means that we did have some petrol, though not a lot.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by wcyam10 on Thu, 27/02/2020 - 05:33

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Hi, referring to the grammar test 2 above: 1. We didn't have any problems. 8. There's never any petrol after Sam uses the car! Are they correct, if we write them as below? 1. We didn't have much problems. 8. There's never much petrol after Sam uses the car!

Hello wcyam10

'much' cannot be used with 'problems' because 'problems' is a plural count noun. You'd have to use 'many' instead. I've added this as a possible correct answer for 1.

'much' is indeed possible in 8 -- I've also added it as a correct answer.

Thanks!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team