Countable and uncountable nouns

Countable and uncountable nouns

Instructions: 

As you watch the video, look at the examples of countable and uncountable nouns. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, countable and uncountable nouns correctly.

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It’s the day of Oliver and Alfie’s cooking competition. Daisy is filming the chefs in action, and Mum is on her way home.

Some nouns in English are countable - we can use them in singular and plural forms; and some are uncountable - they only have one form.

We often use a/an with singular countable nouns and some with plurals. We can also use some with uncountable nouns.

What are examples of countable nouns?

Here are a few:

I've got a steak, some red chilli peppers, some potatoes…
OK, well, I've got a lemon, an apple …and some chicken breasts.
I'd like a blue pen, please.

OK, so for things you can count, like one pen, two pens…Why did you say a pen, not one pen?

We often use a/an before singular countable nouns. Before words that start with a vowel sound, we use an, and before words that start with a consonant sound, we use a.

So is one wrong? As in Would you like one drink?

It sounds as if you're saying one (not two). If you're offering someone a drink you'd say, Would you like a drink?

But someone who works in a café might say, So that's one coffee and two lemonades.

So it's usually a or an for singular countable nouns and a number or some for plurals. How many is some?

It can be any number more than one.

I got some new jeans at the weekend. (a pair of new jeans)
Some teachers left at the end of the year. (we don't know how many)

Is some or a number always used with plurals?

No, have a look at these examples

I'm frightened of dogs. (dogs in general)
Strawberries have a lot of vitamin C. (strawberries in general)

What about uncountable nouns?

These are nouns that don't have a plural form.

I've got some garlic and some butter.
I'm looking for information about early rock and roll.
I haven't got enough paper.
You have to get permission from the head teacher.
Do you want some cake?

So, I can use some with uncountables too?

Yes, we use some with both countables and uncountables.

How do I know whether a noun is countable or uncountable?

A dictionary will tell you. Usually dictionaries use symbols [C] for countable and [U] for uncountable.

Just a minute. You said cake was uncountable. What about, I made a cake this morning.

Yes that's correct, but there's a difference in meaning.

I made a cake this morning. (a whole cake  - countable)
Do you want some cake? (a piece of cake - uncountable)
A box of chocolates. (individual chocolates - countable)
I'd like some chocolate too. (a piece or pieces of chocolate from a bar of chocolate – uncountable)

I thought coffee and lemonade were uncountable too.

Yes, they are usually.

I love coffee with hot milk. (uncountable)
Can you get some coffee? (uncountable)
I'll have a coffee, please. (a cup of coffee, countable)

Wow, so it's more complicated than I thought.

No, they're not really very difficult.

OK, they're easy. It's a piece of cake

Yes, simple! A piece of cake!

 

Total votes: 1123

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Discussion

The expression a piece of cake means something is really easy. Is speaking English a piece of cake for you?

Comments

AnaB's picture
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Maybe. frist I need to make the cake and than eated, it's the same in English. You have frist to learn English language and than use it.

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49 users have voted.
LOGY's picture
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English language is a very useful language and very important because It's the most popular language,for me it's not a piece of cake but step by step i can do it

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72 users have voted.
Natalija's picture
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I like English so much, esp in the last five years. It's both useful and interesting, but I think that it's not a piece of cake. When you start to learn it, it's certainly not. But later, after years spent studying it, it easily becomes a piece of cake. So, practice and studying are the key to a better and fluent English, and at that moment, you'll be able to say:"English is just a piece of cake for me". I think I'll say that soon:)

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87 users have voted.
Alister's picture
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Learning English is not difficult for me, but sometimes I have some problems. But I love learning English and I'm doing my best to improve it.

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166 users have voted.
Simon's picture
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Hi Alister, welcome to LearnEnglish Teens. There are lots of worksheets in the grammar snacks section. You can print them and share them with your friends or do the exercises together! Good luck.

Simon (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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168 users have voted.
klara wisdom's picture
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hello...

i follow the video for countable and uncountable nouns and i find it easy for me .... it's funny bur this part of gramar if like a piece of cake ^_^

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158 users have voted.