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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

Comments

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

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

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