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Countable nouns vs. uncountable nouns

Nouns are words that we use to refer to people, places, or things and countable nouns, as the name suggests, are nouns of things you can count. Moreover, all countable nouns will have a singular and a plural form, even if they are coinciding (that is, they can be the same word).

Countable nouns

Countable nouns are nouns of things that you can count, things that can be either singular or plural. So, all countable nouns have a singular and plural form. For instance, friend/friends, star/stars, eye/eyes, phone/phones, (singular and plural form).

  • 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.
  • A 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.
  • The 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.
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Uncountable nouns

On the other hand, as opposed to countable nouns, uncountable nouns cannot be counted. Therefore, they do not have a plural form. For example, milk, electricity, power, rice, water, and money are all uncountable nouns, and they have no 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?

Countable nouns and uncountable nouns — In context

  • 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.


  1. Rice: Rice is an uncountable noun, so there is no plural form. You cannot say, rices. This would be incorrect.
  2. 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.
  3. Friends: is a countable noun. You can say friend or friends (adding an s to make the plural form).
  4. 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.
  5. The determiner, some: is being used because it’s followed by an uncountable noun, cutlery. Determiners are normally used with uncountable nouns in English.
  6. Cutlery: is an uncountable noun. We cannot say a cutlery, but we can say, the cutlery, some cutlery or much cutlery.
  7. First in, first serve: Is an expression basically meaning, that whoever comes first, can have the first serving.
  8. 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.

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