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Uncount nouns

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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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Comments

Hello Andrew international,

'more' can be used (and is commonly used) with both count and uncount nouns. 'much' is only for uncount nouns and 'many' is only for count nouns.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter
Thank you very much for your explanation.
Am I correct ? Even we add 'some' before uncount nouns for example some equipment; some furniture, some bagage.; some luggage the verb should be singular. Please let me know.
I went through your note above and 'life' is abstract but we use 'lives' also so is it alright to say His life is /was hard. Their lives are/were hard.
Please let me know.
Thank you in advance.
Andrew international

Hello Andrew international,

Yes, 'some' can be used with uncount nouns and uncount nouns take a singular verb. Many words (like 'life') can be used as both count and uncount nouns, so the verb they take can be singular or plural.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter
Is it alright to say: Some equipment are defective.
Some furniture are new.
A few pieces of equipment are defective.
Thank you.
Andrew international

Hello Andrew international,

In the first sentence 'some furniture' requires a singular verb: 'is' instead of 'are'.

In the second sentence 'are' is correct as we have a plural noun ('pieces').

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Peter
Thank you for your explanation for 'much money' and 'more money.'
Please explain this ,too.
Food is uncountable but I have seen advertiesments like: infants milk foods.
Is it correct to say 'foods' there. It means what is available in supermarkets- different types. Also tropical 'fruits'
Please let me know.
Regards
Andrew international

Hello Andrew international,

Yes, that is correct. Many words that we typically use as uncount nouns (e.g. 'food', 'fruit', 'fish') do also have count noun forms, as you have noticed in the supermarket. Good work!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Kirk,

The waiter pointed out that everyone had eaten his breakfast or their breakfast.

In the above sentence, I think prnoun should be used in plural form, because sentence is talking about all. Please clear my doubt.

Amitesh

Hi AMITESHK84,

Indefinite pronouns such as 'everyone', 'someone', 'nobody' and so on are treated as singular forms even though they refer to many people and they always have a singular verb.

You can read more about these forms here.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi Peter,
Thank you for your reply. But we say in a sentence
Someone has forgotten their umbrella. Here we say someone has ie singular subject and thus singular verb but the pronoun is plural..

Please explain.
Amitesh

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