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.

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

Average: 4 (165 votes)

I'm so thankful for your quick, illustrative response. That matter had been bothering me for a long time.
So, both of them are grammatically correct and their being correct isn't just limited to that certain noun, right?

Hi Amir__760__,

Yes, right! And I'm glad that this was helpful for you.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by chandrumbt on Tue, 30/05/2023 - 03:04

Permalink

Do we need to use quantifiers always before uncountable nouns? For example, is it okay to say, "Did you get water?" or "I've got apples."

Hi chandrumbt,

No, not always. Those sentences are perfectly fine! 

Jonathan 

LearnEnglish team

Profile picture for user simiriti

Submitted by simiriti on Thu, 06/04/2023 - 12:56

Permalink

In English grammar, nouns can be classified as countable or uncountable, also known as count and mass nouns respectively.

Countable nouns refer to things that can be counted as individual units, such as "book," "chair," or "apple." These nouns can be used with numbers and articles such as "a," "an," or "the." They also have plural forms, such as "books," "chairs," or "apples."

Uncountable nouns refer to things that cannot be counted as individual units, such as "water," "rice," or "knowledge." These nouns usually do not have a plural form and cannot be used with numbers or indefinite articles like "a" or "an," but they can be used with some quantifiers like "some," "any," or "much."

However, some nouns can function as both countable and uncountable depending on the context. For example, "coffee" can be an uncountable noun, as in "I like to drink coffee," or a countable noun, as in "I ordered two coffees."

It's important to understand the difference between countable and uncountable nouns to use them correctly in sentences and to choose the appropriate determiners and modifiers.

Hi!
I wonder if context could make this usage correct: "The only way out of underdevelopment was revolution."
Is it wrong not to say "a revolution"?

Hi Maria Montoya,

No, that's totally fine! The word "revolution" can be countable or uncountable. In its uncountable sense, it's fine without an article.

Jonathan

LearnEnglish team

Submitted by francoandrian on Fri, 10/03/2023 - 21:26

Permalink

I think studying English is important to get a good job and more if you study electronics like me. A lot of information is written in this language and even though I can translate the different texts I use, some words or expressions don't translate correctly.

Submitted by JameK on Fri, 10/02/2023 - 10:03

Permalink

Sir, can I use some in this sentence when I think the answer will be yes.
''Is there some cake in the fridge?''.
Thanks in advance.