Count and Non-Count Nouns

Count and Non-Count Nouns


 

In English, there are two kinds of nouns: count nouns and non-count nouns. It is important to understand the difference between them, because they often use different articles, and non-count nouns usually have no plural. Here is a summary of the differences:

Count nouns
are things which can be counted. That means that there can be more than one of them. Also, when a count noun is singular and indefinite, the article "a/an" is often used with it. (The real meaning of "a" is "one".) "There are two books on the table."

"There is an elephant in my car."

Non-count nouns
are usually things which cannot be counted, such as rice or water. Non-count nouns have a singular form, but when they are indefinite, we either use the word "some" or nothing at all instead of an article. "Could I have some water please?"

"I'd like rice with my steak."


 

How to tell whether a noun is count or non-count

You can usually work out whether a noun is count or non-count by thinking about it. Count nouns are usually objects which can be counted. Non-count nouns are often substances (such as sand, water or rice) which cannot be easily counted, or they may be large abstract ideas such as "nature", "space" or "entertainment". Here are some more examples:

 

Count nouns
Non-count nouns
pen
table
car
idea
answer
class
exam
shoe
education
intelligence
clothing
soap
air
cheese
grass
literature
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