Uncountable nounsCountable nouns
Nouns can be countable or uncountable.a) uncountable nouns are things we cannot count. They have no plural. You cannot say'musics','bloods' or'excitements'.b) before uncountable nouns you can say the/some/any/much/ this/his etc.:The musicsome goldmuchexcitementhisbloodBut youcannotuse a/an before an uncountable noun. So you cannot say 'amusic', 'anexcitement' or ' a blood'.
You can also use uncountable nouns alone, with no article:-This ring is made of gold.-Blood is red.c) many nouns can be used as countable or as uncountable nouns. Usually there is a difference in meaning. For example:PaperI boughta paper. (= a newspaper- countable)I boughtsome paper. (= material for writing on- uncountable)
HairThere isa hairin my soup. (one single hair- countable)She hasbeautiful hair. (hair on her head- uncountable)ExperienceWe hadmanyinterestingexperiencesduring our holiday. (things that happened to us- countable)You needexperiencefor this job. (knowledge of something because you have done it before- uncountable)
d) some nouns are usually uncountable in English but 0ften countable in other languages. Here are the most important of these:accommodationbehaviourfurniturenews scenery trouble advice bread information permission traffic weather baggage chaos luggage progress travel workThese nouns are uncountable, so you cannot use a/an before them, and they cannot be plural:- I’m looking for accommodation.(not ‘an accommodation)
- I’m going to buy some bread.(or ‘a loaf of bread’; but not ‘a bread’)- Tom gave me some good advice. (not ‘ some good advices’)- where are you going to put all your furniture? (not ‘furnitures’)Remember thatnews is not plural:- The news is very depressing today.(not‘the news are’)Don’t usetravel to mean journey/trip:-We had a good journey. (not‘a good travel’)
Note these pairs ofcountable (C) and uncountable nouns(UNC):I’m looking fora job. (C) but I’m looking forwork. (UNC)- Whata lovelyview! (C) but Whatlovely scenery! (UNC)
Countable NounsCountablenouns are things we can count. We can make them plural.Two dogs- six jobs – manysuggestionsHave singular and plural forms.A dog – 3 dogsWe can use a/an before them:That’s a good suggestion.Do you need an umbrella?- You cannot use singular countable nouns alone (without a/the/my.etc)I’m looking for a job. ( not I’m looking for job)Be careful of the dog. ( not be carful of dog)I’ve got a headache.
We often use a/an + noun when we say what something/someone is, or what something/someone is like.A dog is an animal.This is a really beautiful house.What a lovely dress!Tom is a very nice person.Jack has got a big nose.
Remember to use a/an for jobs:Tom’s father is a doctor. ( not tom’s father is doctor)I wouldn’t like to be an English teacher.In sentences like these, we use plural countable nouns alone (not with some)Tom’s parents are doctors .(not some doctors)
Ann has got blue eyes.What awful shoes!Dogs are animals.Are most of your friends students?
We also use some with plural countable nouns. some= a number of/ a few of ( but we don’t know or say exactly how many):I have seen some good films recently.Some friends of mine are coming to stay at the weekend.
Do not use some when you are talking about things in general:I love bananas. ( not “some bananas”)Sometimes you can use some or leave it out:There are (some) eggs in the fridge if you are hungry.
You have to use some when you mean some but not all/ not many etc.Some children learn very quickly ( not all)Some policemen in Britain carry guns but most of them don’t.
A/an and The
For lunch I hadasandwich andanapple.Thesandwich wasn’t very nice.The speaker says“a sandwich/ an apple” because this is the first time he talks about them.The speaker says“the sandwich” because the listener now knows which sandwich he means the sandwich he had for lunch.
There wasaman talking toawoman outside my house.Theman looked English but I thinkthewoman was foreign.When we were on holiday, we stayed atahotel. In the evenings, sometimes we had dinner atthehotel and sometimes inarestaurant.
I sawafilm last night.Thefilm was aboutasoldier andabeautiful girl.Thesoldier was in love with the girl butthegirl was in love withateacher. Sothesoldier shottheteacher and marriedthegirl.
We use a/an when the listener doesn’t know which thing we mean. We use the when it’s clear which thing we mean:Tom sat down on a chair. ( we don’t know which chair)Tom sat down on the chair nearest the door ( we know which chair)Ann is looking for a job. ( not a particular job)
Did Ann get the job she applied for? ( a particular job)Have you got a car? ( not a particular car)I cleaned the car yesterday. ( a particular car, my car)
We usethewhen it is clear in the situation which thing or person we mean.For example, in a room we talk about “the light/ the floor/ the ceiling/ the door/ the carpet..”Can you turn off the light, please? (the light in this room)Where is the toilet, please? ( the toilet is in the building/house)
The postman was late this morning ( our usual postman)I took a taxi to the station ( the station of that town)We got the airport just in time for our flight.The police/ the fire-brigade/ the army.
We also say the bank, the post office:I must go to the bank to change some money and then I’m going to the post office to buy some stamps. ( The speaker is usually thinking of a particular bank or post office.)
We also say the doctor, the dentist:John isn’t very well. He has gone to the doctor. (=his doctor)
Fill in the blanks witha/an, the or Ø:I found__a__hair in mycup!Shehas__Ø___long blond hair.Cindy gives__Ø___great advice.We’re going to get___Ø__newfurniture for the living room.Finding_Ø_ accommodationto live is difficult if you’re a student and you’ve got no money.
Let’s get_a_paper and see what’s on at the cinema.The printer has run out of__Ø__paper.I had__Ø__workto do so I couldn’t go out.This is__a__really good restaurant.My father is___an___engineer.Can you open__the____window.We called_the__police yesterday.I have an appointment with___the_dentist.