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 bananas|
|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)
|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|
- man /mæn/ – men /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
- glasses / spectacles (formal)
- trousers (British English) / pants (American English)
We can say:
A pair of jeans / shorts / trousers (pants) / scissors.
*countable = count /kaʊnt/ + able (= can)
Countable nouns are things that we can count:
This is a pen. Do you like apples?
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.
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:
|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”
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.
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.