Nouns come in two types: countable and uncountable.
Countable nouns are nouns that can be counted: sheep, apples, bottles, drinks, days, years, etc.
Uncountable nouns are nouns that can not be counted: milk, bread, petrol, cement, water, love, peace, etc.
Singular countable nouns can be preceded by the definite article, the, a, or an:
- The cat
- A cat
- An idea
Plural countable nouns are usually preceded by a number:
- I read two books last week.
- We had two visitors today.
- That crazy old woman has more than a dozen cats.
Plural countable nouns can also be preceded by quantifiers such as some, few and many:
- She has some books.
- She had a few biscuits.
- Now she has too many lightsabres.
Uncountable nouns do not get a definite article. They are always singular, and so they must have a complementing single verb:
- Tea is…
- That information is available online.
- There is too much butter on those trays.
Uncountable nouns can be preceded by some/any, much, and little:
- Is there some food for the cat?
- I will see if there is any food for the cat.
- There is not much food for the cat.
- I only have a little time.
Any countable or uncountable noun that begins with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u) is preceded by the definite article an:
- An alligator
- An elephant
- An ironic twist
- An opportunity
- An unfortunate incident
|Countable Nouns||Can be singular or plural|
|Used with: the, a, an, some, any, many, few, enough, plenty, no|
|Used with: some, any, much, few, a lot of, lots of, a little bit of, enough, plenty, no|
There are some words in English that can be both counted and uncounted, like ‘difficulties’, ‘talks’, and ‘lights’.
They are uncountable in the abstract:
- The peace talks will take place later this year. (A number of scheduled conferences.)
- We have had some difficulties. (A number of specific problems.)
- I love the lights of the city. (Lights can be counted, but in this case, the word is general.)