Countable and uncountable nouns 1

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

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Average: 3.6 (19 votes)

Submitted by Maahir on Sun, 14/03/2021 - 07:02

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Hi, Thanks for the great lessons you're providing us. Just wondering why money is listed under the uncountable nouns while it can be counted in number. for exmp. 1/2/3 dollar. could you please explain it more. Thanks.
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Submitted by Jonathan R on Sun, 14/03/2021 - 12:03

In reply to by Maahir

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Hi Maahir,

In your example, it's the word dollar (not the word money) that is countable. The word money is different - it refers to an amount, and is (normally) uncountable. :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Maahir on Sun, 14/03/2021 - 14:16

In reply to by Jonathan R

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well understood an many thanks for your answer.

Submitted by lipo3 on Sat, 30/01/2021 - 22:17

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Hello and thank you for these great and varied ressources. Being a teacher, is it possible to print the grammar lessons? there s no overhead projector in the classroam making teaching from this website difficult. Thank you.

Hello lipo3,

We're glad that you find the lessons useful. You are welcome to print them as long as the pages clearly indicate that the lesson was written by the British Council and that it comes from our website.

Thanks for asking -- hope that helps you!

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Pienk on Sun, 03/01/2021 - 07:48

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hello, I did not understand the complete meaning of uncountable nouns.
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Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 03/01/2021 - 08:21

In reply to by Pienk

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Hello Pienk,

Uncountable nouns are things that we cannot number as individual things but rather see as a quantity.

For example, in my kitchen I have some bananas. I can count them: one banana, two bananas etc. I can add more and have three or four or five bananas.

Now imagine that I take my bananas and crush them because I want to make a banana smoothie. Now I don't have separate bananas; I just have a quantity of crushed banana in a jug, so I say I have 'some banana'. If I add more then I just say 'more banana'. The banana is now uncountable.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Good day Peter, I am just a little confused about what you said there. So when the "banana" is now uncountable, can we say 'much banana'? since 'much' is for uncountable noun and 'banana' here is uncountable. Which is the right one?

Hello karl_97,

You could say that, yes. However, we generally use 'much' in negative sentences or questions. In affirmative sentences we use 'a lot of' or similar phrases:

Don't put any more in! There's already too much banana in the smoothie.

I like a lot of banana so go ahead and put it all in.

How much banana should I add?

 

You can compare these with the countable equivalents:

Don't put any more in! There are already too many bananas in the bowl.

When I buy fruit for the week I like to get a lot of bananas as they're very healthy.

How many banana should I take? One each or would you like more?

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by cyn nat on Tue, 15/12/2020 - 06:55

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hello, I want to ask, how about hair? Is it countable or uncountable nouns?