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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

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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,
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

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

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

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

Dear Sir,

Can we use specific determiners with uncount nouns?

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

Thanks for the guidance, sir.

The tip is helpful. Thanks.

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