Uncount nouns

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

Grouping_MTYwODI

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

GapFillDragAndDrop_MTYwODM

Common uncount nouns 3

GapFillTyping_MTYxMjY

 

Online courses
Learn English online – with the world's English experts

Submitted by Nagie23 on Wed, 24/03/2021 - 23:33

Permalink
Hello, I would like to ask if a traid mill and a corridor have the same meaning, and both can be used in sports and exercising Thank you in advance

Submitted by Kirk on Thu, 25/03/2021 - 07:39

In reply to by Nagie23

Permalink

Hello Nagie23,

You can find the answer to this sort of question in a good dictionary. A corridor refers to a space inside a larger space, whereas a treadmill is a kind of machine or has a meaning related to that.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Samin on Thu, 04/02/2021 - 15:23

Permalink
Hello tell me please which is the correct way- Amir spends all his energy/energies for sports and none is left for his study/studies. Kindly explain. Your parents should explain your frequent absence/ absences. If you drink from this river people believe you will never suffer from any illness/illnesses.

Hello Samin,

The correct choice in the first sentence is 'energy' as it is an uncountable noun in this context.

In the second sentence the plural form is correct ('absences') as it refers to multiple instances.

In the third sentence both answers are possible. Generally, we would use the plural ('sicknesses') here but it's possible to use the singular form to mean '...from any (kind of) sickness'.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Samin on Sun, 31/01/2021 - 06:22

Permalink
Hello please clarify, in these sentences what type of noun they are- Take your medicine after every meal Meal -uncountable/ countable The sand on the beach is clean Beach- countable /uncountable

Hello Samin,

In the first sentence, 'meal' is a count noun. This is because the quantifier 'every' is only used with count nouns. You can also check this in the dictionary -- if you follow the first link, you'll see [ C ] just above the definition. This indicates it is a count noun. ([ U ] is used with uncount nouns.)

'beach' is also a count noun.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by CHÉKYTAN on Wed, 09/09/2020 - 07:27

Permalink
Dear Sir, Can we use specific determiners with uncount nouns?

Submitted by Jonathan R on Wed, 09/09/2020 - 16:21

In reply to by CHÉKYTAN

Permalink

Hi Chekytan,

Yes, we can! For example, money is an uncount noun, and we can say the money, my money, this money or whose money. These are all specific determiners. 

You can find more examples and exercises on our grammar page on Specific and general determiners.

I hope that helps.

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by OlaIELTS on Mon, 20/07/2020 - 13:56

Permalink
The tip is helpful. Thanks.

Submitted by Navreet Bhardwaj on Sat, 09/05/2020 - 09:42

Permalink
Hello sir, Please tell me is the sentence ' I went to home and gave that sad bit of news to my parents.' correct?

Hello Navreet Bhardwaj

Except for 'to' (it should be 'I went home' instead of 'I went to home'), yes, that is grammatically correct.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Ridg Wick on Tue, 03/03/2020 - 20:38

Permalink
what is the definition of uncount noun and count noun,and how can we know that it's a uncount and count noun.

Hello Ridg Wick,

A count noun is one which can be plural. For example, we can say one chair (singular) but also two chairs, three chairs, a thousand chairs etc (all plural).

An uncount noun has no plural form. We can only talk about quantity, not number. For example, we can say some milk, some more milk, a lot of milk, a glass of milk, a litre of milk etc, and all of these have a singular noun. We do not say milks.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by learningenglishhard on Thu, 06/12/2018 - 02:33

Permalink
Hi! I am a bit confused about the following sentence: 'Our belief is that diversity and inclusion creates a positive workforce environment, but building a diverse workforce is also the smart business thing to do.' Why does a singular verb instead of a plural verb follow 'diversity and inclusion'? I thought 'diversity and inclusion' is a combination of two nouns which should be followed by a plural form. Is there a general rule that whenever two nouns (whether countable or uncountable) are linked together by 'and', they should be followed by a plural verb? Thanks a lot!

Hi learningenglishhard,

I would say that the verb in that sentence should be plural: '...diversity and inclusion create...'

I don't know the source for the sentence you quoted, but remember that even the most careful writers can make mistakes, especially when a text is edited and changed over time. For example, the text might once have said '...a focus on diversity and inclusion creates...', and then been edited to remove 'a focus on', leaving an ungrammatical verb.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Abfalter Cristian on Tue, 13/11/2018 - 11:30

Permalink
Hello ! I'am a bit confused about the uncount noun ''money''. Is it correct or wrong to say: few money or a lot of money ? Thank you in advance.

Hi Abfalter Cristian,

'a lot of money' is the correct option here. The opposite is 'little money'. In both cases, 'money' is an uncount noun.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Tue, 28/08/2018 - 10:10

Permalink
Hello Sir Thank you for explaining clearly 'how much luggage have you got?' Is it all right to say: how many pieces of luggage have you got? How much luggage has she got? How many pieces of luggage has she got? How many pieces of luggage are there? Thank you. Regards Lal

Hi Lal,

You're welcome! All of the sentences you ask about are correct -- good work.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Lal on Mon, 27/08/2018 - 13:23

Permalink
Hello Sir I would like to make this clear. How much luggage have you got?(from your web site) Is it all right to say 'How much furniture have you got? How much furniture is good?/ How much furniture are good? My problem : luggage is uncountable but you have used 'have' please help me to make this clear Thank you. Regards Lal

Hello Lal,

In the questions about how much luggage and furniture, the subject of the verb 'have' is 'you', which is why it is correct. The question 'How much furniture is good?' is correct because 'furniture' (like the word 'luggage') is uncount and therefore it takes a singular verb.

Does that make sense?

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by jcsj1172 on Wed, 16/05/2018 - 09:13

Permalink
Perfect, but is very dificult to me.

Submitted by Ali boroki on Tue, 15/05/2018 - 07:48

Permalink
Hello dear british council team. I'm a little confused between count and uncount nouns when we say "a wish or and idea "are count nouns and why do we say human feeling and qualities such as "fun or happiness are uncount nouns!!!??? What are the differences between them?? please make them clarify . Thank you in advance...dears.

Hi Ali boroki,

As far as I know, this just how English speakers see wishes, ideas, fun and happiness. I suppose once could say that a wish is count because it is usually for a specific thing and that an idea is similar, but of course you could argue that they are not so concrete and would make more sense as uncount nouns. But that's not how native speakers of English imagine these concepts.

The same is true of 'happiness' and 'fun' -- we just imagine these concepts as being uncountable and so the nouns are uncount.

I expect this may not be a very satisfying answer for you; if so, I'm sorry! On the other hand, this is one of the things that I enjoy about learning other languges -- you come to realise that there are so many different ways of seeing the world.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Marua on Sun, 18/03/2018 - 18:20

Permalink
Hello. I'm a little bit confused when it comes to this noun 'food', most of the times used as an uncountable noun. But I saw in different books, even in dictionaries 'foods'. Eg. 1. The fridge keeps food at a constant temperature. 2. Many snack foods are high in salt. What's the difference? Can we use 'food and foods' interchangeably in these 2 situations?

Submitted by Peter M. on Mon, 19/03/2018 - 08:10

In reply to by Marua

Permalink

Hello Marua,

'Food' is a word that is uncountable in most contexts. The uncountable form is always correct as far as I am aware, but there are some contexts in which we can it it as a countable noun. These are cases when we want to make it clear that we are talking about different types of food

Your first sentence is referring to whatever food is in the fridge without distinguishing between types so 'food' is correct. Your second sentence is referring to different types of a particular category of food - different types of snack food - so the countable form is appropriate here.

There are many nouns which function in a similar way, such as coffee, time and space.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Andrew international on Sat, 07/10/2017 - 09:04

Permalink
Hello Sir The noun 'information' is uncountable. Can we use 'more' with any uncountable noun? We say 'for more information please contact ...' Information is uncountable I have seen 'more ' with other uncountable nouns for eg more money as well as with countable nouns. Is it alright to use 'more ' with other uncountable nouns, too ? I think one cannot. We use 'much' but we can't use 'much' with countable nouns. This is puzzling. Could you please make this clear for me? I was in the opinion 'more' was only with countable nouns. Thank you.

Submitted by Kirk on Sat, 07/10/2017 - 17:10

In reply to by Andrew international

Permalink

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

Submitted by Andrew international on Tue, 01/08/2017 - 03:10

Permalink
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

Submitted by Andrew international on Sat, 29/07/2017 - 04:43

Permalink
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

Submitted by Peter M. on Sat, 29/07/2017 - 06:51

In reply to by Andrew international

Permalink

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

Submitted by Andrew international on Thu, 27/07/2017 - 13:17

Permalink
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

Submitted by AMITESHK84 on Thu, 06/07/2017 - 05:22

Permalink
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

Submitted by Peter M. on Thu, 06/07/2017 - 06:48

In reply to by AMITESHK84

Permalink

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

Hello Amitesh,

I think Peter thought you were asking about 'everyone', not 'their', which is not a pronoun but rather an adjective. To answer your original question, yes, your sentence was grammatically correct. It may seem incongruous to use a grammatically-singular pronoun (such as 'everyone') and then later use a grammatically-plural adjective (such as 'their'), but this is indeed correct.

Good work!

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by AMITESHK84 on Mon, 26/06/2017 - 13:00

Permalink
Hi..Peter. A regiment of officials (A) / has been (B) / invited (C) / to lunch (D) / No error (E) which part has error.

Hello Amitesh,

What do you think? We're happy to help you, but please tell us what you think the correct answer is and why. That way we can help you better.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by AMITESHK84 on Fri, 16/06/2017 - 04:11

Permalink
A lunch was organized to welcome the principal.. Is it.correct?? Or the lunch was organised to welcome the principal.

Submitted by abdulhaqcivil1 on Thu, 18/05/2017 - 14:18

Permalink
Hello, how to find count & uncount nouns, as of definoition whichever is countable is a count noun & if unable to count it's an uncountable noun. But in this topic money & furniture is given as uncountable noun but in practice it can be ciuntable Example:-10 USD, 4 new furnitures arrived. i am really confused to find out the countble /unciuntable noun, requird your help. Thanks.

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 19/05/2017 - 07:34

In reply to by abdulhaqcivil1

Permalink

Hello abdulhaqcivil1,

It's possible to guess whether some nouns are count or uncount. For example, substances which are liquid or similar tend to be uncount, such as coffee, for example. Abstract nouns are also often uncount. However, it is not always obvious and it is really a question of learning this when you learn the word itself, just as you would learn the pronunciation or the spelling. Sometimes a word can be both count or uncount. For example, 'coffee' is uncount when referring to the substance, but we can also say 'two coffees' meaning 'two cups of coffee'.

'Furniture' is not a count noun and we would not use it in the way you suggest. We would say 'pieces of furniture'. However, sometimes language in automatically generated invoices, created by computer programmes, is not completely grammatical and you may have seen an example of this.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by amol on Thu, 18/05/2017 - 10:50

Permalink
Hello, How should we treat the noun 'Superstition' ? Is it an abstract Idea?

Submitted by amol on Thu, 18/05/2017 - 10:50

Permalink
Hello, How should we treat the noun 'Superstition' ? Is it an abstract Idea?

Submitted by Peter M. on Fri, 19/05/2017 - 07:20

In reply to by amol

Permalink

Hello amol,

A superstition is an irrational and supernatural belief. It is, therefore, abstract in the sense that we cannot touch it. Grammatically speaking it is a count noun as we can identify individual examples. In this sense it is similar to the count noun 'belief'.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by ninoosha on Fri, 28/04/2017 - 15:56

Permalink
Hello dear Kirk, I have one question about uncountable nouns. e.g Furniture. which still after researching make me somehow confuse in some specific occasions. Since it's an uncountable/mass noun, verb which follows it would be in a singular form, but what about when I make a sentence in a which I mention the number is more than one piece, like: 1-The are/is some new pieces of furniture in this room. or 2-few bits of furniture are/is still here or 3- some furniture is/are broken I hope I was clear enough about explaining what makes me confuse Regards