1. Countable and uncountable nouns
Countable nouns are those elements that can be counted one by one using numbers.
Uncountable nouns are those elements that we cannot count using numbers but we can count using quantifiers or partitives.
|COUNTABLE||Apple / apples||Monkey / monkeys||Chair / chairs|
|School / schools||Tree / trees||Film / films|
2. How are countable and uncountable nouns used?
- Countable nouns have singular and plural form. When they are in singular, they can be preceded by the indefinite article a/an.
I need an umbrella.This is a parrot.
- Uncountable nouns only have singular form. They can't be preceded by the indefinite article a/an. They can be preceded by some/any.
I need milk.I can give you some advice.
- To express a specific amount of an uncountable element we will use a partitive, that is a group of words that act as a unit of measure. The structure would be: quantity + measure word + ofA bag ofFlourPastaRiceA slice ofBreadMeatCheeseA carton ofMilkJuiceIce creamA jar ofJamHoneyTomato sauceA can ofTunaSweet cornCokeA drop ofWaterWineOilA tube ofToothpasteGlueShampooA bit of/A piece ofAdviceInformationNewsA pinch ofSaltSugarPepperA roll ofToilet paperTapeCling film
- Some of these partitives can also be applied to countable nouns such asA can of pineapple.A bag of crisps.A jar of olives.
- There are some countable nouns that only have plural form. To designate a unit we use a pair of.A pair of glasses.A pair of trousers.A pair of scissors.
Pay attention to the difference between a pair of and a couple of.
Use Examples A PAIR OF To refer to two things of the same type that are used together so they are considered as one unit. A pair of shoes. A pair of gloves. PAIRS OF If we want to designate more than one unit by adding a number. Two pairs of shoes. Four pairs of gloves. A COUPLE OF To refer to two units of something. A couple of CDs. A couple of ideas.
- Drinks are usually treated as uncountable but we can refer to them as if they were countable as in a cup of , a glass of...COUNTABLEThree (cups of) coffees, please.UNCOUNTABLEI don't like coffee.
- Some nouns can be both countable and uncountable. In these cases, there is usually a difference in meaning.COUNTABLEThere are 5 rooms in my house.UNCOUNTABLEThere isn't room for another table.COUNTABLEHow many lights do you need?UNCOUNTABLEMy bedroom gets a lot of light.COUNTABLECan I read this paper?UNCOUNTABLEGive the boy some paper to draw on.
|For elements that can be treated individually||Two birds||For elements that can't be treated individually||Air|
|Singular and plural form||Tree / trees||Only singular form||Water /
|We use a/an/one to designate elements in singular||I need a book||Usually used with some/any/Ø||I need some money|
|They can be counted using numbers||One bee - two bees||Can be counted with a partitive. quantity + measure word + of||A bottle of milk|