Nouns: countable and uncountable

Nouns: countable and uncountable

Do you know how to use a, some, any, much and many? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

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.


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

Average: 4.1 (155 votes)

Hello maccachi,

The quantifier 'a lot of' is not grammatically incorrect here but it's hard to think of a context in which it would be used.

We would say 'some information' whenever asking for information unless for some reason we felt the need to warn the other person that we are asking for something unusual. For example, if I had a very long list of questions then I might say 'a lot of information' as a kind of apology, with the sense of 'Sorry I have so many questions'. However, even then we would probably phrase it differently:

"Hi. I need some information about train times. I've got a lot of questions actually - sorry about that!"



The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Irina_L on Thu, 18/11/2021 - 11:56


Hello, there! Can you tell me if I say "There aren't many potatoes", it means that "There are some potatoes"? Do these sentences have the same meaning or there is a slight difference? Thank you!

Hi Irina_L,

The sentences do mean something similar. 'Not many' indicates a small amount (e.g., just two or three potatoes), or an insufficient amount (e.g., there are 10 potatoes, but I need 20). 'Some' is more general and could mean a small or a large amount, or a sufficient amount.

Good question and I hope it helps :)

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Natasa Tanasa on Thu, 04/11/2021 - 15:46



Could you please explain to me when is chocolate countable and when uncountable?

Thank you a lot!

Hello Natasa Tanasa,

'chocolate' is a count noun when we use it to speak about a specific quantity, usually a piece that a person eats at one time. Often this small piece of chocolate is packaged for individual consumption. For example, a restaurant I used to go to always put one small piece of chocolate (in individual wrappers) per customer on the table with the bill. So if there were three of us at the table, they gave us three chocolates (three individually-wrapped pieces of chocolate).

In all other situations that I can think of, we use 'chocolate' as an uncount noun.

By the way, this general rule applies to other nouns such as 'water' (we sometimes call a bottle of water 'a water'), 'coffee', 'beer', etc.

Hope this helps.

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Profile picture for user Denys

Submitted by Denys on Wed, 06/10/2021 - 11:51


What's the difference between "positive sentence" and "affirmative sentence"? I believe the first term is lessser-used.

Can't we use "some" in positive / affirmative sentences with Countable nouns? E.g. "There're some bottles of milk in the fridge" by meaning "I don't remember quantity of milk bottles, but I am certain of milk in the fridge".

Hi Denys,

'Positive sentence' and 'affirmative sentence' refer to the same thing. You're right, 'affirmative sentence' is the normal technical term. We've used 'positive' in the explanation above because this page is aimed at A1/A2-level users.

Yes, we can use 'some' in positive/affirmative sentences with countable nouns. As the 'Countable nouns' section above states, 'For positive sentences we can use 'a'/'an' for singular nouns or 'some' for plurals.'

I hope that helps :)

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Jonathan,

I wanted to know if the following sentences are affirmative or negative sentences:
1.He is short.
2.Lionel Messi is short.

Hi Monk,

These are both affirmative sentences :) They don't have any negative words in them.

The LearnEnglish Team