A word that refers to a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality; can be either countable or uncountable.
Person: Mr Parker
Substance: Metal, plastic, ammonia, gold
Quality: Honesty, pain, progress
Countable nouns have singular and plural forms while uncountable nouns can be used only in the singular form.
- Medicine – Medicines
- Nurse – Nurses
- Month – months
- Pen – pens.
- Man – men
- Child – children
- Goose – geese
Uncountable nouns cannot be counted. They have a singular form and do not have a plural form – you can’t add an s to it.
Some nouns can be countable or uncountable depending on the context or situation.
- We’ll have two coffees (countable).
- I don’t like coffee (uncountable).
- She took two Panadols each for two weeks.
Tricky Uncountable Nouns
Some nouns are used as singular or plural, depending on their meaning:
- Fruit is good for your health (referring to all fruits).
- She has only a piece of fruit for lunch! (Referring to a single piece)
- I love to shop at that supermarket – they have a wide variety of tropical fruits. (Referring to variety of fruits)
- A piece of furniture (not, “a furniture”)
- A bottle of water (not, “a water”)
- A grain of rice (not, “a rice.”)
- Three units of red blood cells was infused (“Was” because blood and cells are uncountable).
Nouns such as luggage, furniture and jewellery are uncountable nouns and take singular verbs.
- The furniture in the patient’s room needs to be replaced.
- The apparatus for the next assessment has been set up.
- The patient’s luggage has been checked in.’
A countable noun becomes plural by adding s at the end of the word. Of course, there are exceptions –
- Man, men;
- Child, children;
- Goose, geese.
Get ready! We are going to see if the following words are countable or not countable: