Countable nouns with a/an and some

Countable nouns can be singular or plural:

a dog a child the evening this party an umbrella
dogs some children the evenings these parties two umbrellas

Before singular countable nouns you can use a/an:
• Goodbye! Have a nice evening.
• Do you need an umbrella?
You cannot use singular countable nouns alone (without a/the/my etc.):
• She never wears a hat. (not ‘She never wears hat’)
• Be careful of the dog. (not ‘Be careful of dog’)
• What a beautiful day!
• I’ve got a headache.

We use a/an… to say what kind of thing or person something/somebody is:
• A dog is an animal.
• I’m an optimist.
• Tim’s father is a doctor.
• Are you a good driver?
• Jill is a really nice person.
• What a lovely dress!
We say that somebody has a long nose / a nice face / a strong heart etc.:
• Jack has got a long nose, (not ‘the long nose’)
In sentences like these, we use plural nouns alone (not with ‘some’):
• Dogs are animals.
• Most of my friends are students.
• Jill’s parents are really nice people.
• What awful shoes!
• Jack has got blue eyes, (not ‘the blue eyes’)
Remember to use a/an when you say what somebody’s job is:
• Sandra is a nurse, (not ‘Sandra is nurse’)
• Would you like to be an English teacher?

You can use some with plural countable nouns. We use some in two ways:
i) Some = a number of / a few of / a pair of:
• I’ve seen some good films recently, (not Tve seen good films’)
• Some friends of mine are coming to stay at the weekend.
• I need some new sunglasses. (= a new pair of sunglasses)
Do not use some when you are talking about things in general (see also Unit 74):
• I love bananas, (not ‘some bananas’)
• My aunt is a writer. She writes books, (not ‘some books’)
Sometimes you can make sentences with or without some (with no difference in meaning
• There are (some) eggs in the fridge if you’re hungry.
ii) Some = some but not all
• Some children learn very quickly, (but not all children)
• Some police officers in Britain carry guns, but most of them don’t.