LEARN A WORD A DAY

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

English nouns are often described as "countable" or "uncountable".

Countable Nouns

Countable nouns are easy to recognize. They are things that we can count. For example: "pen". We can count pens. We can have one, two, three or more pens. Here are some more countable nouns:

  • cow, cat, animal, man, person
  • bottle, box, litre
  • coin, note, dollar
  • cup, plate, fork
  • table, chair, suitcase, bag

Countable nouns can be singular or plural:

  • My cat is playing.
  • My cats are hungry.

We can use the indefinite article a/an with countable nouns:

  • A cat is an animal.

When a countable noun is singular, we must use a word like a/the/my/this with it:

  • I want an orange. (not I want orange.)
  • Where is my bottle? (not Where is bottle?)

When a countable noun is plural, we can use it alone:

  • I like oranges.
  • Bottles can break.

We can use some and any with countable nouns:

  • I've got some dollars.
  • Have you got any pens?

We can use a few and many with countable nouns:

  • I've got a few dollars.
  • I haven't got many pens.
"People" is countable. "People" is the plural of "person". We can count people:
  • There is one person here.
  • There are three people here.

Uncountable Nouns

Uncountable nouns are substances, concepts etc that we cannot divide into separate elements. We cannot "count" them. For example, we cannot count "milk". We can count "bottles of milk" or "litres of milk", but we cannot count "milk" itself. Here are some more uncountable nouns:

  • music, art, love, happiness
  • advice, information, news
  • furniture, luggage
  • rice, sugar, butter, water
  • electricity, gas, power
  • money, currency

We usually treat uncountable nouns as singular. We use a singular verb. For example:

  • This news is very important.
  • Your luggage looks heavy.

We do not usually use the indefinite article a/an with uncountable nouns. We cannot say "an information" or "a music". But we can say a something of:

  • a piece of news
  • a bottle of water
  • a grain of rice

We can use some and any with uncountable nouns:

  • I've got some money.
  • Have you got any rice?

We can use a little and much with uncountable nouns:

  • I've got a little money.
  • I haven't got much rice.
Here are some more examples of countable and uncountable nouns. When you learn a new word, it's a good idea to learn whether it's countable or uncountable.

CountableUncountable
dollarmoney
songmusic
suitcaseluggage
tablefurniture
batteryelectricity
bottlewine
reportinformation
tipadvice
journeytravel
jobwork
viewscenery

Nouns that can be Countable and Uncountable

Sometimes, the same noun can be countable and uncountable, often with a change of meaning.

Countable
Uncountable
There are two hairs in my coffee!hairI don't have much hair.
There are two lights in our bedroom.lightClose the curtain. There's too much light!
Shhhhh! I thought I heard a noise.noiseIt's difficult to work when there is too much noise.
Have you got a paper to read? (= newspaper)paperI want to draw a picture. Have you got some paper?
Our house has seven rooms.roomIs there room for me to sit here?
We had a great time at the party.timeHave you got time for a coffee?
Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's greatest works.workI have no money. I need work!

Drinks (coffee, water, orange juice) are usually uncountable. But if we are thinking of a cup or a glass, we can say (in a restaurant, for example):
  • Two teas and one coffee please.

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Collection of SPM English Language Question Papers

2005
Terengganu Trial [Paper 1]

2007
Johor Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Terengganu Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Pahang Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2] [Answers], Melaka Trial 2007 [Paper 1] [Paper 2], TIMES [Paper 1] [Paper 2] SPB [Paper 1] [Paper 2]

2008

Terengganu Mid Year [Paper 1] [Paper 2],
Trial
MRSM Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], SBP Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Kelantan Trial [Paper 1 & 2], Terengganu Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Kedah Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Pahang Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Johor Trial [Paper 1 & 2], Perlis Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Sabah Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2], Sarawak Trial [Paper 1 & 2], Melaka Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2]

2009

Terengganu TOV [Paper 1] [Paper 2] Terengganu Mid Year [Paper 1] [Paper 2]
Melaka Trial , Johor Trial , Sabah Trial , Kedah Trial , Perlis Trial , Times , SBP , Pahang Trial [Paper 1] [Paper 2]

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