Countables and Uncountables

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

Uncountable Nouns

Always singular
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.)