Countable nouns vs. uncountable nouns
Countable nouns, as the name suggests, are nouns of things you can count. All countable nouns will have a singular and a plural form, even if they are coinciding (that is, they can be the same word).
- One friend, two friends.
- A star, some stars.
- This pen, these pens.
- One curtain, many curtains.
- One fish, many fish.
- A deer, multiple deer.
Most plural forms of countable nouns are formed by adding an –s to the singular form
However, some plurals can further alter the word.
- One goose, two geese.
- One mouse, many mice.
- This child, these children.
Countable nouns ending in –f or –fe will be pluralised with –ves
- One calf, many calves.
- This knife, these knives.
- A wife, some wives.
Countable nouns ending in –o will be pluralised with –oes
- One potato, many potatoes.
- A tornado, two tornadoes.
- A tomato, some tomatoes.
Countable nouns ending in –y or –ie will be pluralised with –ies
- One felony, many felonies.
- A peony, two peonies.
- One sharpie, two sharpies.
As opposed to countable nouns, uncountable nouns cannot be counted. Therefore, they do not have a plural form.
- Some milk, but never one milk, or many milks.
- Some rice, but never one rice, or many rices.
- Other examples are power, luggage, advice, money, water…
Many vs. Much
We use the determiner many for countable nouns.
- I have many friends.
- There were many dogs.
- You can do it in many ways.
- I saw so many trees.
- You have too many worries.
We use the determiner much for uncountable nouns.
- You put too much oil in!
- I don’t have much milk left.
- There’s so much sunlight coming through my window.
- Do you have much luggage to load in the truck?
Lesson #36: Countable and uncountable nouns
Nouns are words that we use to refer to people, places, or things. Generally speaking, adjectives and adverbs modify nouns. We’re going to focus on: countable, uncountable, proper, common, concrete, abstract, collective and compound nouns.
Countable nouns are nouns of things that you can count, things that can be either singular or plural. All countable nouns have a singular and plural form. I.e., friend/friends, star/stars, eye/eyes, phone/phones, (singular and plural form).
Uncountable nouns are nouns that cannot be counted. They don’t have a plural form. I.e., milk, electricity, power, rice, water, money are all uncountable nouns, and they have no plural form.
- Good evening, Steve. What are you cooking?
- I’m cooking some rice1 with curry.
- Hmm,2 sounds delicious. You have a lot of rice in the pan, are you having friends3 over?
- Well, I only have enough knives4 and forks for three people, so I just invited my parents
- What about me?
- You’re going to be left out I’m afraid.
- That’s not very nice. You really need to get some5 more cutlery6 you know…
- I agree. First in, first serve7 I guess.
- I’ll be seeing8 you tomorrow.
- Good day.
- Rice: Rice is an uncountable noun, so there is no plural form. You cannot say, rices. This would be incorrect.
- Hmm: this is what we call an interjection in English. They have no grammatical value and basically represent sounds. Others include, grr, ow! Ah etc.
- Friends: is a countable noun. You can say friend or friends (adding an s to make the plural form).
- The noun knives: is the plural form of knife. Nouns ending in -f or -fe are pluralised with -ves. For example: calf – calves, wife – wives.
- The determiner, some: is being used because it’s followed by an uncountable noun, cutlery. Determiners are normally used with uncountable nouns in English.
- Cutlery: is an uncountable noun. We cannot say a cutlery, but we can say, the cutlery, some cutlery or much cutlery.
- First in, first serve: Is an expression basically meaning, whoever comes first, can have the first serving.
- I’ll be seeing: the future continuous form which is will + be + verb + ing. We use the future continuous to talk about an action or situation in the future that will be happening.
- Articles (a/an, the, zero article)
- Pronouns: subject, object and possessive
- Question tags
- English conditionals
- Interrogatives in English
- Phrasal verbs
- Prefixes and suffixes
- Reported and direct speech
- Numbers: cardinal, ordinal, and Roman numbers
- The verb: “get”
- ‘Get’ vs. ‘go’ and ‘got’ vs. ‘gotten’
- Copular verbs
- Cleft sentences
- Subjunctive in English
- Vulgar and taboo in English
- Split infinitive
- Emphasis with inversion
- Gerunds in English
- To + infinitive
- Bare infinitive
- British and American spelling