Count and Non-Count Nouns
Count nouns refer to people, places, or things that can be counted. They can be made plural, usually by adding -s or -es at the end. Here is a chart of some Count Nouns, the categories in which they fit, and their singular and plural forms.
Non-Count nouns are used to describe a quality, action, thing or substance that can be poured or measured. They also refer to a whole category made up of different varieties or a whole group of things that is made up of many individual parts. They do not have a plural form. Here are some examples of Non-Count Nouns, and the categories in which they fit.
|Poured / Measured||Qualities||Actions|
|signing / to sign
standing / to stand
running / to run
driving / to drive
Here is a chart of individual items within a category (the count nouns), and the name of the category (the non-count nouns).
|Items in Category
||Head of Category
Some nouns, like the word time, can be used as either a count noun, or a non-count noun.
|How much time did it take for you to drive to school?||This is a non-count noun, because it refers to a category that contains smaller items (think of it as a "group" of minutes).|
|How many times did you take the test before you passed?||This is a count noun, because you can count exactly how many separate times you took the test.|
Here are some other nouns that can be used as both count and non-count nouns:
|Used as a Count Noun||Used as a Non-Count Noun|
|beauty||Miss Gallaudet is a beauty.||Other students envied her beauty.|
|fire||Will you please light a fire in the fireplace?||John Doe's home was destroyed by fire.|
|death||They had a death in the family.||Death is a tragic thing.|
|gossip||Susan is a gossip.||Gossip can destroy people's reputations.|
|foods||Supermarkets have aisles for different foods.||The animals at the zoo wanted food.|
The Much and Many Rule:
- Many is used with count nouns
- Much is used with non-count nouns
|Count Nouns||Non-Count Nouns|
|How many papers do you have to write?||How much homework did you have last night?|
|There were too many books required for that class.||I had to read so much literature for my English class.|
If you're still not sure how to identify non-count nouns and count nouns, you can look them up in the dictionary.
- n for countable
- n[U] for uncountable
- n[C] for both countable and uncountable.
Newbury House English Learner's Dictionary
- N COUNT for countable nouns
- N UNCOUNT for uncountable nouns.
Developed by Ellen Beck, Rachel Mingo and
Nelson Treece for English Works! 1997.