Countable & Uncountable Nouns

Grammar Summary:

Workshop 1. Do you know the difference between Countable and Uncountable nouns? This lesson explores 2 key rules to remember.

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Related pages

Countables, Uncountables Exercise 1  Video Exercise 1

Countables, Uncountables Exercise 2  Video Exercise 2

Countables, Uncountables - Revisions PDF  PDF Handout

Lesson transcript

In this lesson we're going to look at Countable & Uncountable nouns.

Now this a really important and basic area of English grammar and in this lesson I'll show you 2 key rules to remember for your speaking and writing.

Before that, let's look at the basics.

Now you probably know already that countable nouns, like "apple", can be counted. For example one apple, two apples, three apples

- Whereas uncountable nouns, like milk, can't be counted. So we can't say for example: one, two or three "milks". If we want to count milk, we have to say one or two e.g. glasses or bottles of milk.

Here are some more examples.

"Apple" we've seen is countable. "Milk" we've seen is uncountable. How about "book"? Well we can say one, two or three "books" so it must be countable. It's the same with "insect". It's countable.

Now "bread" on the other hand is uncountable, and if we want to count it, we would say one or two "slices" or "loaves" of bread.

Similarly, "information" is uncountable. To count it, we would say "a piece" or "two pieces" of information. Finally, "money" is uncountable.

Now there are some words which can be
both countable and uncountable. We'll look at those words later on in this lesson.

Key Rule #1

For now, let's turn to Key Rule #1. And this rule concerns to use of "a" or "an" or the "Indefinite Article".

The rule is that "a" or "an" can only be used with countables and not with uncountables.

For example "an apple", "a book", "an insect". We can't say "a milk", "a bread", "an information" or "a money". That's Rule #1.


Key Rule #2.

Key Rule #2 - and this concerns the use of plurals. The rule is (again) that plurals can only be used with countables.

For example: "apples", "books", "insects". We can't say: "milks", "breads", "informations" or "moneys".

So those are the two rules. Let's summarise what we have so far.

Countables: can count. Uncountables: can't count.

Countables: can use "a" or "an". Uncountables can't use "a" or "an". And:

Countables (finally) can use plurals. Can't use plurals with uncountables.


Now I said earlier that some nouns can be both countable and uncountable. And I've prepared a list of those nouns in the PDF which you can download.

Also on the pdf are examples of nouns which are strictly countable and strictly uncountable.

So that's the end of Part 1; join me in Part 2 where we'll do two practice exercises to consolidate what we've learnt about countables and uncountabes.

[End of lesson]

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Nouns: Countables, Uncountables (1)
Articles (2)
(3) | (Zero Article 4) | The: Special Uses (5)
There is, there are (6)
Quantity: Some, Any (7) | Many, Much, A lot of (8) | A few, a little (9)
Prepositions of time: In, On, At (10)
The Present: Present Simple (11) | Present Continuous (12)
The Past: Past Simple (13) | Past Continuous (14) | Present Perfect (15)
Irregular Verbs (16)
The Future: Future Simple (17) | Future Plans (18)
Phrasal Verbs (19) (20)

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