Countable Subjects

A word that refers to a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality; can be either countable or uncountable.

Person: Mr Parker
Place: Sydney
Thing: Metformin
Event: Admission
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.

Countable Nouns

  • Medicine – Medicines
  • Nurse – Nurses
  • Month – months
  • Pen – pens.
  • Man – men
  • Child – children
  • Goose – geese

Uncountable Nouns

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.

  • Pain
  • Medication
  • Dirt
  • Rice
  • Money
  • Information
  • Hair
  • Advice
  • Knowledge.

Some nouns can be countable or uncountable depending on the context or situation.

E.g.

  • 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:

Written by Biju John

Love for English begins with understanding its unknown rules. Biju John lives on the internet, teaching OET, IELTS and PTE. More than a million students have thanked him from their heart.

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