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)

Hello cyn nat,

Hair is countable when we are talking about a strands of hair, but it is uncountable when we are talking about hairstyles or appearance:

Look at my jumper. It's got dog hairs all over it.

I love the colour of your hair!

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Akash Rathore on Mon, 14/12/2020 - 05:04

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Hello Sir, I have some doubts. Please help me resolve them. Usage of singular and plural verb (has and have). 1. Two and a half year has passed. 2. Two and a half years have passed. how sentences 1 and 2 are correct? 3. One year and a half has passed. ( or have)
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Mon, 14/12/2020 - 07:49

In reply to by Akash Rathore

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Hello again Akash Rathore,

Only 2 is correct. Sentence 3 is correct with 'have'. This is because 'one and a half ' is considered plural.

Please note that it takes us a little time to reply to your comments -- there's no need to ask the same question in more than one place.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Harry on Fri, 20/11/2020 - 08:11

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Hello! I noticed something is strange to understand for me.In test 2, no.6 answer is "much".But the explanation mentioned above said that that answer can be submitted by "any" for uncountable nouns in negative sentences. Would you mind if you correct my opinion?

Hi Harry,

You're right! Any is fine too. I've added it as another answer to question 6. 

Thanks for letting us know about it :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Nurieta on Fri, 23/10/2020 - 12:18

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Hi! I have a question. I would like to know, when do you use "a lot of" or "lots of"?. For example: Lots of things are mysteries, or .... Now I have lots of time, could you say too, " a lot of " in both sentences? I don´t understand, if you can use this expression whenever you want. Thanks :)

Hi Nurieta,

Yes! You can use both lots of and a lot of in those examples. They have the same meaning and style. There's no difference between them :)

Best wishes,

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Tue, 20/10/2020 - 16:34

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I'm wondering if "water" is countable or uncountable. For example, is there any difference in meaning between crystal clear water and crystal clear waters? ;)

Hello Rafaela1,

Water is generally uncountable. However, we can say waters when we are talking about a body of water, especially an ocean or sea.

The dictionary offers this definition:

waters plural

(1): a band of seawater abutting on the land of a particular sovereignty and under the control of that sovereignty

(2): the sea of a particular part of the earth

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/water

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team