Singular & Plural, Countable & Uncountable Nouns

A noun is a person, a place or a thing:

A teacher, a city, a table, Monday, June, London, America

Singular /ˈsɪŋɡjʊlə(r)/ Plural /ˈplʊərəl/
a/one banana two banana
an/one egg two eggs
an/one apple a kilo of apples
a/one baby two babies
a/one dress three dresses

PLURAL NOUN = SINGULAR + -S (usually)

Remember!

Nouns that end in Plural
s, ss, sh, ch, x + potato, tomato… + -es busses, classes, dishes, watches, boxes, potatoes, tomatoes, heroes, torpedoes
consonant + y  change y to i + –es families, babies, countries, cities (BUT boys, toys – vowel +y)
f, fe change f to y + -es wives, wolves, knives

IRREGULAR NOUNS

  • man /mæn– me/men/
  • woman /ˈwʊmən– women /ˈwɪmɪn/
  • child – children
  • tooth – teeth
  • foot – feet
  • person – people
  • sheep – sheep
  • fish – fish/fishes
  • mouse – mice
  • goose – geese
  • louse – lice
  • deer – deer

These nouns are not the only irregular nouns, but they are probably the most common irregular ones.

NOUNS THAT ARE ALWAYS PLURAL 

  • clothes
  • jeans
  • shorts
  • glasses / spectacles (formal)
  • sunglasses
  • scissors
  • trousers (British English) / pants (American English)
  • thanks

We can say:

A pair of jeans / shorts / trousers (pants) / scissors.

Screen Shot 2018-10-24 at 9.47.30

COUNTABLE* NOUNS 

*countable = count /kaʊnt/ + able (= can)

Countable nouns are things that we can count:

This is a pen. Do you like apples?

UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS

Uncountable nouns are things that we cannot count:

I like this water.

This oil is very good.

I need love.

Our friendship is great.

Uncountable nouns often have some in front of them:

We need some bread.

Listen to some music.

Remember!

Screen Shot 2018-10-24 at 9.58.08

Some common uncountable nouns are:

  • food: sugar, salt, meat
  • materials: meat, wood, plastic
  • school subjects and languages: history, art, English
  • ideas and feelings: advice, time, information, love
  • groups of similar things: furniture, luggage / baggage (mainly American English), money

Some nouns can be both countable and uncountable:

I like coffee (drink). Two coffees please (cups of coffee).

Healthy food is important. (things that we eat) You can’t eat some foods (some types of food).

Eat fruit and vegetables (fruit as food). These fruits are very healthy (types of fruit).

Chicken is tasty (food). My aunt has 20 chickens on her farm (birds).

Swiss chocolate is very good (food). Take a chocolate (one sweet).

We use paper (material). I read a paper (a newspaper).

I know some Russians (people). I speak Russian (language).

We “count” uncountable nouns like this:

Units Containers Measurements /ˈmeʒə(r)mənts/
a piece of cheese/cake

a piece of paper/luggage/furniture

a bit of information

a bar of chocolate/soap

a slice of bread/toast/pizza

a loaf of bread

a carton of juice/milk

a can/tin (British English) of beer/tuna

a glass of juice

a cup of tea

a box of chocolates

a bottle of wine

a tube of toothpaste

a liter/litre (British English) of milk

half a kilo of salt

two meters of silk

2 thoughts on “Singular & Plural, Countable & Uncountable Nouns

  1. Enguroo says:

    Thank you for your comment. Indeed, such a list or at least a post on the topic would be a good idea. But you are unlikely to see the list here because this is a post for beginners.

    As for your examples, “behaviours” is an acceptable form in British English. “Behaviours” is a specialized term used in fields such as psychology, social science, and education (http://www.macmillandictionaryblog.com/language-tip-of-the-week-behaviou): In this chapter, we discuss strategies for dealing with the problem behaviours of young children.

    But you are absolutely right about “surgery” and “surgeries,” “accommodation” and “accommodations.” I’m not sure it’s possible to make a complete word list but we’ll give it a try.

    Like

  2. Tony Jenkins says:

    I would like to see a list of what are uncountable nouns in British English, but pluralised in American English, e.g. accommodation and accommodations, behaviour and behaviors, surgery and surgeries. I am hunting the Internet but have yet to find a fuller list than that.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s