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Video Lesson – Uncountable Nouns

by Oli Redman on 18 September, 2014 , No comments

What connects the words: advice, knowledge, information and rice? The answer is: they are all uncountable nouns. What does this mean? Think about the word: uncountable. If something is uncountable, then you can’t count it. You can’t have three advices, two informations, or a rice. You can’t make an uncountable noun plural: you can’t say knowledges or fruits. In today’s lesson, we’ll look at uncountable nouns in more detail.

1. Uncountable Nouns: Basic Information

If a noun is uncountable:

  • You can’t make it plural.
  • You need a singular verb: This information is… not This information are
  • You can’t use a/an.

2. Which Nouns are Uncountable?

Many uncountable nouns are:

  • Types of food and drink: rice, pasta, water, coffee.
  • Collective nouns, which describe a group of objects: furniture, equipment, luggage, traffic.
  • Abstract ideas: knowledge, information, advice, progress.

If you use a learner’s dictionary, it should tell you if a noun is countable or uncountable—look for a (u) or a (c) after the noun.

3. Nouns with Countable and Uncountable Forms

Can you tell the difference between:

  • glass and a glass
  • wood and a wood
  • paper and a paper
  • coffee and a coffee

The meaning of these nouns changes if they are countable or uncountable. Glass, wood and paper (the uncountable nouns) mean the materials—as in: this chair is made of wood.

  • A glass is something you drink out of.
  • A wood is another way to say a forest.
  • A paper is another way to say a newspaper.
  • A coffee means a cup of coffee.

There are many more nouns like this.

4. Uncountable Nouns which Are Always Plural

These nouns are uncountable, but they are always plural. For example:

  • police
  • clothes
  • trousers
  • scissors

These nouns can never be singular—you can’t have one police, one trouser, or a scissor.

5. Making Uncountable Nouns Countable

We often make uncountable nouns countable in English by using another word in front of them. For example:

  • a bag of rice
  • a piece of advice
  • a pair of trousers
  • a piece of paper

In this way, it’s easy to use an uncountable noun like a countable one.

Right or Wrong? Correct the mistakes.

  1. These furniture are very old.
  2. Can you give me a pair of scissors?
  3. There was many traffic on the way to the station.
  4. I don’t have any paper. Can you give me one?
  5. She doesn’t eat enough fruit and vegetables.

Complete the sentences with one word

  1. I sat on my glasses, so I need a new ________
  2. Can you give me ________ advice?
  3. He doesn’t make ________ money.
  4. My hair ________ getting too long.
  5. Do you have ________ coffee?
  1. Wrong: These furniture are… This furniture is…
  2. Right
  3. Wrong: many traffic much/a lot of traffic
  4. Wrong: give me one give me some/give me a piece
  5. Right (fruit is uncountable, but vegetables are countable!)
  6. pair
  7. some
  8. much (or any)
  9. is
  10. any
Oli RedmanVideo Lesson – Uncountable Nouns