Countable and uncountable nouns 1

Do you know how to use a, some, any, much and many?

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

Language level

Beginner: A1
Pre-intermediate: A2

Soumis par Alaa El Baddini le jeu 25/06/2020 - 04:13

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The number of advice (is / are) Is there anything that's called "the number of advice"?!

Hello Alaa El Baddini,

Advice is an uncountable noun and we don't use it with number of.

You can say pieces of advice, and then a number of pieces of advice is possible.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par englishuser le lun 15/06/2020 - 19:23

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Are fruit/nut and fruits/nuts - both uncountable nouns? Why can’t the below sentences be correct ? Is it just the rules or more than that ? What is meant by positive sentence? You can have any juice. You can have some juice. Thanks

Hello englishuser,

Fruit and nut can be used as uncountable or countable nouns.

We use fruit in an uncountable sense when we are talking about a quantity of fruit which is not easily counted. This could be many pieces of fruit, for example, or one piece of a larger item. Thus we might say this to a guest: Would you like some fruit?

We use fruits as a countable noun to usually mean types of fruit. Thus, we might say this: I can buy many different fruits at my local market.

Nuts is generally used as a countable noun.

 

A positive or affirmative sentence is one which is not a question or a negative:

She lives in Paris. - positive/affirmative

Does she live in Paris? - question/interrogative

She doesn't live in Paris. - negative

 

You can have some juice is a correct sentence. It is an offer with the meaning If you want juice then it's OK.

You can have any juice is not correct as an offer as we would not use any in an affirmative sentence of this kind.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Navreet Bhardwaj le mer 13/05/2020 - 18:41

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Hello Sir, Please tell me why 'a' is used with coffee in this sentence? "I stopped on the way home to get a coffee." Thank you

Soumis par Peter M. le jeu 14/05/2020 - 06:47

En réponse à par Navreet Bhardwaj

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Hello Navreet Bhardwaj,

We can say a coffee when we mean a cup of coffee.

A teaa beer and a whiskey all work in a similar way. With water and milk, however, we need to say a cup of... or a glass of.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Sir, I want to learn about tenses. Can you please link me to that page on your website. I searched tenses on BC website; I found some other stuff that was amazing but I did not get tenses. Sorry to bother you. Thank you :)

Soumis par Kirk le ven 15/05/2020 - 13:22

En réponse à par Navreet Bhardwaj

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Hello Navreet Bhardwaj

You can find what you're looking for in the Verbs section of our English Grammar reference. If you look at the menu in the box on the right, you'll see lots of different options.

We're happy to help you find what you're looking for on LearnEnglish. Enjoy!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par ElaineFerraz le mar 12/05/2020 - 21:06

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Hello, In exercise 8 my answer was “any” but it says it is not correct. I understand the use of “much” in this context however I wonder why not using “ any” if you want to mean there is no toothpaste at all. Can someone comment on this, please? Thanks

Soumis par Kirk le mer 13/05/2020 - 08:26

En réponse à par ElaineFerraz

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Hello ElaineFerraz

You are right: 'any' is also a correct answer for test 1 question 8. I will fix that as soon as I can.

Sorry for the confusion!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Dimas wicaksono le mar 12/05/2020 - 01:23

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In grammar test 1 number 7, the correct answer are "any" or "many". but why in number 8 the correct answer is just only "much"? can we put on "any" as well? because in explanation, uncountable nouns in negative sentences using "any"

Hello Dimas wicaksono

You are right: 'any' is also a correct answer for test 1 question 8. I will fix that as soon as I can.

Sorry for the confusion!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Navreet Bhardwaj le jeu 07/05/2020 - 18:46

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Hello Sir, My doubt is related to question 7. I have bought some new shoes but I did not get a shirt. I got the first part right : I have bought some new shoes. But I did not get why we used 'a' with shirt? Is 'I have bought some new shoes but I did not get any shirt. ' wrong?

Soumis par Peter M. le ven 08/05/2020 - 07:18

En réponse à par Navreet Bhardwaj

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Hello Navreet Bhardwaj,

We use any with uncountable nouns (e.g. sugar, time, water) or with countable plural nouns (chairs, people, shirts). Thus, we could say '...but I did not get any shirts'.

However, if we have a singular countable noun (chair, person, shirt) then we cannot use any. We need to use either the indefinite article (a) or the definite article. (the). Thus, any shirt is not correct.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par H_L le mar 05/05/2020 - 19:45

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Hello, In the first grammar test number 8, can we say "There isn't any toothpaste." "any" is for count and uncount nouns and for negative and interrogative sentences, right? Also, in the second grammar test number 7, can we say "I've bought some new shoes but I didn't get any shirt."? If not, can you explain why? Thank you so much.

Soumis par Cannon Sensei le jeu 23/04/2020 - 01:17

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On question 7 in Grammar Test 1, is "We have a lot of chairs but we don't have 'many' tables." incorrect?

Hello Cannon Sensei

You're right -- 'many' is also a possible answer for the second gap. I'll change the exercise so that it accepts that answer as well as 'any'.

Thanks for pointing this out to us.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Rebecca Adiyelogun le mar 14/04/2020 - 15:53

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Hello team, Will it be wrong to write "I've bought many new shoes but I didn't get any shirt."

Soumis par Rebecca Adiyelogun le mar 14/04/2020 - 15:46

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Hello team, Can "many" be used for any plural count nouns? I have many books.

Hello Rebecca

Yes, you can use 'many' with plural count nouns, though people tend to use 'a lot of' instead of 'many' in affirmative statements, and to use 'many' more in negative statements (e.g. 'I don't have many books').

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par Rebecca Adiyelogun le mar 14/04/2020 - 15:43

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Hi, referring to grammar test 1 above: " I've bought some new shoes" Can I also write the sentence as shown below? " I've bought many new shoes"

Hello Rebecca

As I mention in my response to your comment above, we don't usually use 'many' in affirmative sentences like this one; instead we use 'a lot of'. Here the best option is 'some'.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par marzieh le lun 13/04/2020 - 15:22

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Hello, This section is boring, it is better to use images in the grammar section.

Soumis par MehdiParsa le lun 06/04/2020 - 22:57

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I would like to thank your team for incredible lessons and tests. We know that ''people'' is a non-count noun, however, ''How many'' is used for one of your tests "How many people are coming?" instead of "How much" I would be thankful if you could give me more information about this.

Hello MehdiParsa,

People is a count noun. It is an irregular plural form, but otherwise it functions as a normal plural count noun:

one person

two people

The person is waiting for you.

The people are waiting for you.

 

The correct question, therefore, is How many people...?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par CLAUDIA SORICELLI le jeu 12/03/2020 - 11:38

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can i have more information about the difference between a lot of and lots of? thanks

Hello Claudia,

There is no difference in meaning or grammatical use. Lots of is more informal than a lot of.  You'll hear lots of more in speech than writing, and more between friends than in official or formal contexts.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par wcyam10 le jeu 27/02/2020 - 05:49

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In negative sentences, can we used "any" interchangeably with "much" with uncountable nouns?

Hello wcyam10

You can use both 'any' and 'much' with uncount nouns, but they have a different meaning. 'We didn't have any petrol' means that we had no petrol. 'We had didn't have much petrol' means that we did have some petrol, though not a lot.

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Soumis par wcyam10 le jeu 27/02/2020 - 05:33

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Hi, referring to the grammar test 2 above: 1. We didn't have any problems. 8. There's never any petrol after Sam uses the car! Are they correct, if we write them as below? 1. We didn't have much problems. 8. There's never much petrol after Sam uses the car!

Hello wcyam10

'much' cannot be used with 'problems' because 'problems' is a plural count noun. You'd have to use 'many' instead. I've added this as a possible correct answer for 1.

'much' is indeed possible in 8 -- I've also added it as a correct answer.

Thanks!

All the best

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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