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Countable / Uncountable Nouns
Uncountable nouns (also called mass nouns or noncount nouns) cannot be counted, they are not treated as seperate objects. This means you cannot make them plural by adding -s, because they only have a singular form. It also means that they do not take a/an or a number in front of them.
We do not put a/an or a number in front of an uncountable noun.
Sugar is bad for you. I don't drink my tea with sugar.
Rice is good for you. I eat rice at least once a week. (Not I eat a rice.)
There is no plural form for an uncountable noun.
To make uncountable nouns countable add a counting word, such as a unit of measurement, or the general word piece. We use the form "a ....... of ......."
A grain of rice.
A bag of sugar.
A glass of water.
A bottle of wine
You can use some and any with uncountable nouns.
I usually drink some wine with a meal.
You shouldn't add any water to a good single malt whisky.
I don't usually drink much coffee.
Little wine is undrinkable though.
A lot of wine is drunk in France.
No wine is drunk in Iran.
You can make most uncountable noun countable by putting a countable expression in front of the noun.
- A piece of information.
- 2 glasses of water.
- 10 litres of coffee.
- Three grains of sand.
- A pane of glass.
Mass nouns refer to groups of specific things.
Tables, chairs, cupboards etc. are grouped under the mass noun furniture.
Plates, saucers, cups and bowls are grouped under the mass noun crockery.
Knives, forks, spoons etc. are grouped under the collective noun cutlery.
When you are travelling suitcases, bags etc. are grouped under the mass noun luggage / baggage.