Countable nouns are, for example, dog, umbrella,
job, suggestion, girl, that is to say, things we can count.
We can make them plural: two dogs, six jobs, some girls,
many suggestions, etc.
Before singular countable nouns you can use a/an:
- That's a good suggestion.
- Do you need an umbrella?
You cannot use singular countable nouns alone (without
a, the, my, etc.):
- I'm looking for a job. (not
I'm looking for job)
- Be careful of the dog. (not Be careful of dog)
We often use a/an + noun when we say what something
or someone is, or what something or someone is like:
- A dog is an animal.
- Sue is a very nice person.
- This is a really beautiful house.
Jack has a big nose.
- What a nice dress!
Also, remember to use a/an for jobs or professions:
- Tom's mother is a doctor. (not
Tom's mother is doctor)
- He wouldn't like to be an engineer. (not He
wouldn't like to be engineer)
We also use some with plural countable nouns.
Some = a number of, a few of (but we don't know or say exactly how many):
- I've seen some good movies
- Some friends of mine are coming to stay for the weekend.
Do not use some when you are talking about things in
- I love bananas. (not
Sometimes you can use some or leave it out:
- There are (some) e-mails in your
computer if you want to read them.
Uncountable nouns are, for example, gold, music,
blood, excitement, that is to say, things we cannot count. They
have no plural. You cannot say "musics," "bloods," or "excitements."
Before uncountable nouns you can use the, some, any,
much, this, his,etc.:the music, some gold,
much excitement, his blood. Butyou cannot use a/anbefore an uncountable noun. So you cannot say "a music," "an excitement,"
or "a blood."
You can also use uncountable nouns alone, with no article
- This ring is made of gold.
- Blood is red.
Many nouns can be used as countable or as uncountable nouns.
Usually there is a difference in meaning. For example:
I bought a paper. (= a newspaper - countable)
- I bought some paper. ( = material for writing on -
There's a hair in my soup!! (= one single hair - countable)
- She has beautiful hair. (= hair on her head - uncountable)
We had many interesting experiences on our vacation.
(= things that happened to us - countable)
- You need experience for this job.
(= knowledge of something you have done before - uncountable)
Some nouns are usually uncountable in English but often
countable in other languages. Here are the most important of these:
chaos furniture information luggage
These nouns are uncountable,so you cannot use a/an
before them and they cannot be plural:
- Tom gave me some good advice,
(not some good advices)
- Where are you going to put all your furniture? (not
- We don't have much luggage to carry, (not
- I'm afraid I have some bad news, (not a
Remember that news is not plural:
- The news is very depressing, (not
The news are very depressing)
In each of the following sentences decide whether the
noun in bold type has been used correctly by choosing the best
alternative from the menus below. If not, write the sentence out
correctly in the space provided.
The informations are in the
Each manager has to complete an
Extensive researches were being
Insurance guarantees a minimum of
The new softwares have been
installed in the system.
Their training has been
organised to cover basic communication skills.
Our company has accumulated a lot of
experiences over the years.
OM Personal premises are located
in the centre of Buenos Aires.
Businesses were excellent last
month and this will affect our profits for 2005.
The datas show a fall in the
number of fatal accidents.