Grammar-Quizzes › Noun Phrases › Nouns › Count/Noncount Nouns
Count / Noncount Nouns
Recognize nouns that are individual, mass or collective
Unit Noun vs. Collective Noun
A count noun is a unit, an item in a
The dollar is here.
The dollars are here.
A noncount noun is a group, mass or collective noun. It is not countable because it is too small, a particle, liquid, gas, concept or activity. A collective noun has no plural form. (A dollar is a unit within the group: money.)
The money is here.
Yes, we count money – coins and bills. However ,money (the collective noun) is noncount.
Related pages Quantity Phrases and Food Quantifiers .
Determiners and Demonstratives
Determiners Used With Count and Noncount Nouns
Determiners, such as the, this, that, these, those are used before nouns that are definite (identified, known). Some determiners have plural forms.
The dollar is on the table.
The dollars are on the table.
This dollar is mine.
These dollars are mine. (demonstrative: here)
That dollar is yours.
Those dollars are yours. (demonstrative: there)
One dollar is yours.
Some dollars are on the table.
Determiners for noncount nouns are singular. Quantifiers are used for mass and collective nouns. See Quantity Phrases and Food Quantifiers for more details.
The money is on the table.
This money is mine.
That money is yours.
Some money is on the table. (an indefinite amount)
Demonstratives: this (near) / that (far); here (near) / there (far)
See: A Determiner "Basic Markers", Demonstratives (this, that) Some / Any , Little / Few
Fluids, Solids, Gases, Particles and Concepts
water, coffee, tea, milk, oil, gasoline,
air, oxygen, nitrogen, smoke, smog,
rice, corn, flour, sugar, popcorn, pepper, salt, cinnamon, oregano (spice names), tea, coffee, etc.
|MASS / SOLIDS|
ice, bread, butter, cheese, meat,
baggage, luggage, clothing, furniture,
arms, clothes, contents, covers, dishes, goods, groceries, leftovers, refreshments, remains, spoils, supplies, valuables
happiness, health, love, fun, help,
weather, fog, heat, humidity, lightning,
|LANGUAGE & LANG. STUDY|
Arabic, French, Spanish, English, Portuguese,
|FIELDS OF STUDY|
chemistry, engineering, art, philosophy,
|RECREATION & ACTIVITY|
basketball, soccer, baseball, dance, football, sleeping, driving, writing, studying,
¹singular, but happen to end in -s
Count vs. Noncount Form
Fruit vs. Fruits
Most speakers use the noncount singular form for fruit when referring to all fruit.
Fruit is delicious in the summertime.
We’re out of fruit. We have to buy some.
Would you like some fruit / a piece of fruit?
~Fruits are delicious
*We’re out of fruits. We have to buy some.
*Would you like some fruits?
Some people will use fruits in the expression fruits and vegetables (as similiar word forms) or when speaking about varieties of fruit, a collective noun.
|PARALLEL PLURAL FORMS|
Fruits and vegetables are delicious in the summertime.
We are out of fruits and vegetables. We
Cut back on sweets, refined grains, and animal fats, and have lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
|PLURAL (CATEGORY / VARIETY)|
Fruits are the main part of a Megabat’s diet.
We read about temperate, tropical, and sub-tropical fruits.
At the end of the year, we’ll enjoy the fruits of our labor. (results, profits)
*The plural form is more commonly used in a scientific context when talking about different types of fruit: Fruits of South America, Fruits of Micronesia, or in an expression "May we soon enjoy the fruits of our labor." (Fruits means "beneficial results".)
"Megabat." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 3 Aug. 2016, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Megabat . Accessed on 21 Aug. 2016.
Also see Plural–Varieties . Dialectal
variations occur for the noun fruit, grapefruit, breadfruit and eggplant.
Also see Food Quantifiers .
within the category "fruit" are countable.
|COUNT NOUN — SINGULAR|
This grape is sweet.
This cantaloupe is delicious.
|COUNT NOUN — PLURAL|
These grapes are sweet.
These cantaloupes are delicious.
Noun is Count & Noncount
Express a particular one vs. a more general one
Abstract (concept) Nouns—Count and Noncount
In the nouns below, the determiner a before the count noun expresses a particular, specific event, "true of one situation". In some cases, an adjective may be included.
|A PARTICULAR ONE|
What a life she has! (Det + N)
What an easy life she has! (Det + Adj + N)
I had an experience today. (introduction to a story)
I had a good experience today.
What a pity ! (a sad situation or disappointment)
~You have a thought but is it a good one? (idea)
I’m sending positive thoughts your way. (wishes to you)
I have a duty to serve my country.
I have an important duty to serve my country.
We had a conversation with him.
We had a strange conversation with him.
She has an opportunity to receive a scholarship.
She has a good opportunity to travel abroad.
*She made a progress. ¹(noticeable progress)
She has made a marked progress¹ in her work.
~We had a time today. (expletive not mentioned)
We had an excellent time today.
~He had an education but didn’t do much with it.
He had a good education.
*I had a sleep last night.
I had a good night’s sleep last night.
~He’s been a help to us.
He’s been a big help to us.
~What an imagination! (interjection)
He has quite an imagination! (unexpected, surprising)
The noncount use of the equivalent (same) word expresses a more general meaning, "true for all situations or events". Life is complicated..
Life is complicated.
I have a lot of experience in hotel management.
He feels pity for her.
Your project needs more thought.
He has a strong sense of duty.
Dinner conversation is entertaining.
When opportunity knocks, answer the door.
She has made progress in her work.
Time passes slowly.
Education can change a person’s future.
Sleep improves a person’s health.
Help is hard to find.
He relies on imagination to draw cartoon characters.
* Not used / ~ sounds awkward, requires a special context to use
(Huddleston 334-40) ( Swan 148-9)
Also see Word Forms for words like imagination vs. revolution.
Material Nouns (not abstract)—Count and Noncount
The count noun use below expresses a particular one. In some cases, an adjective may be included with the article "a".
|A PARTICULAR ONE|
I received an email from him today.
I bought a paper at the newstand. (newspaper)
I wrote a paper in class. (essay)
I bought a glass for wine.
*May I have a milk? (personal request)
May I have two milks. (restaurant speech = two glasses of milk)
He ate a sausage.
He ate two sausages.
Antartica is not a country.
Argentina is a beautiful country.
The noncount use of the equivalent (same) word expresses a more general meaning. An adjective may be included.
I get so much email that I can’t read it all.
Please put paper in the copy machine.
Please put blue paper in the copy machine.
The store sells glass for windows.
The store sells milk.
The store sell good sausage. (ground meat)
This is cattle country. (territory for raising cows and steers)
This is Apple country. (territory of users of a brand)
Errors and Solutions
Error and Solution
*The equipments don’t work well.
The equipment doesn’t work well.
My baggage was lost.
I bought new furniture.
*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.
Items and Mass Nouns
Select the count or the noncount noun.
- Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence.
- Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check" button.
noun meat may consist of several meat cuts.
Meat is not countable.
A steak is / steaks are countable. (a chop, a roast, a slice, a cut)
Countable, uncountable: homework
Discussion in ‘ English Only ‘ started by Kaiserina , Dec 5, 2005 .