Countable and Uncountable Nouns!

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Countable Nouns

If something (a noun) can be counted, then it is considered to be a countable noun. If we can put “one,” “a,” or “many” in front of a noun, then we can count it.

For example:

1. I have one orange in my hand, but there are six oranges in the fruit bowl.

2. There is a cup on the table, but there are many cups in the cupboard.

3. We have one family car, but our neighbors have two or three.

Uncountable Nouns

If a noun cannot be counted, then it is considered to be an uncountable noun. If we are unable to put “one,” “a,” or “many” in front of a noun, then we cannot count it.

For example:

1. Water (we cannot say, a water, or many waters).

2. Bread (we cannot say, one bread, or two breads).

3. Rice ( we cannot say, three rices, or many rices).

When we quantify a noun, or put them in a container, the noun remains uncountable.

For example:

1. Could I have a glass of water?

2. I would like a slice of brown bread.

3. May I have a portion of rice?

Here, “glass,” “slice,” and “portion” are all countable nouns, but “water,” “bread,” and “rice” remain uncountable.

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Sometimes when we speak, we avoid mentioning the container, although it is obviously assumed. For example, “May I have a coffee?” A coffee refers to a cup or mug of coffee, so in this context the noun “coffee” is countable. We would not usually expect the coffee to be given to us in any other way.

However, there are some nouns that can depend on the context in which they are referred to, be both countable or uncountable.

For example:

1. In the recipe we need to use two eggs. (the eggs are countable).

2. The doctor advised me not to eat food containing egg. (the egg is uncountable).

In the first example, the “eggs” are countable as the recipe requires two eggs. However, in the second example, the “egg” is uncountable because the word “egg” is used in a non-specific way by the doctor, as he advises the patient not to eat food containing egg as a product, and not a particular egg or eggs.

Although confusion may arise in such cases with these nouns, usually common sense allows for the confusion to be understood.

Philip was born in the United Kingdom. Today he works as a freelance writer in Mexico, where he spends much of his time researching and writing about health-related issues. If you feel that you have benefited from reading one of his articles: please recommend them to others who may also benefit. Thank you for reading Philip’s articles!

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