Countable and uncountable nouns

A noun can be countable or uncountable. Compare:

Countable
• I eat a banana every day.
• I like bananas.
Banana is a countable noun.
A countable noun can be singular (banana)
or plural (bananas).
Countable nouns are things we can count. So
we can say ‘one banana’, ‘two bananas’ etc.
Examples of nouns usually countable:
• There’s a beach near here.
• Ann was singing a song.
• Have you got a ten-pound note?
• It wasn’t your fault. It was an accident.
• There are no batteries in the radio.
• We haven’t got enough cups.

Uncountable
• I eat rice every day.
• I like rice.
Rice is an uncountable noun.
An uncountable noun has only one form
(rice).
Uncountable nouns are things we cannot
count. We cannot say ‘one rice’, ‘two rices’
etc.
Examples of nouns usually uncountable:
* There’s sand in my shoes.
• Ann was listening to (some) music.
* Have you got any money?
• It wasn’t your fault. It was bad luck.
* There is no electricity in this house.
• We haven’t got enough water

You can use a/an with singular countable

nouns:
a beach a student an umbrella

You cannot use singular countable nouns
alone (without a/the/my etc.):
• I want a banana, (not *I want banana’)
• There’s been an accident, (not ‘There’s
been accident’)

You can use plural countable nouns alone:
• I like bananas. (= bananas in general)
• Accidents can be prevented.

You cannot normally use a/an with

uncountable nouns. We do not say ‘a sand’
or ‘a music’. But you can often use a…of:
a bowl of rice a drop of water
a piece of music a game of tennis etc.

You can use uncountable nouns alone
(without the/my/some etc.):
• I eat rice every day.
• There’s blood on your shirt.
• Can you hear music?

You can use some and any with

plural countable nouns:
• We sang some songs.
• Did you buy any apples?
We use many and few with plural countable
nouns:
• We didn’t take many photographs.
• I have a few jobs to do.

You can use some and any with

uncountable nouns:
• We listened to some music.
• Did you buy any apple juice?
We use much and little with uncountable
nouns:
* We didn’t do much shopping.
* I have a little work to do.