Countable and Uncountable nouns
In this lesson we are going to practise using countable and uncountable nouns. We will also focus on using words like a, some, any, much and many.
Countable or Uncountable?
There are no specific rules to know whether a noun is countable or uncountable. There are some general ideas, however. If it is a liquid (or liquid-like) then generally it is uncountable. e.g. water, air, sand, hair, rice.
When you learn a new noun, make sure you check whether it is countable or uncountable.
For positive sentences with a single noun, we can use a/an. If there is more than 1 we can use 2, 3, 4 etc. or if we don’t know the exact number ‘some’.
There’s a dog in the park.
I have some cakes.
There are 2 teams.
If the sentence is negative, then plurals use ‘any’.
I don’t have a house.
I don’t have any houses.
With uncountable nouns, ‘some’ is used for positive sentences and ‘any’ for negative. We do not use a, an or numbers with uncountable nouns.
There’s some rice in the cupboard.
There isn’t any ice.
A lot of
You can use a lot of (lots of) with both countable and uncountable nouns (plurals) for both negative and positive sentences.
There are lots of birds in the sky.
There are a lot of people on the train.
There is not a lot of snow left.
However, ‘lots of’ has no negative variation, try ‘not much’ or ‘not many’ instead.
There are not many birds in the sky
In questions with countable nouns, we use a/an, any or how many.
Is there an ant in the food? (singular)
How many people are there? (plural)
Are there any books? (plural)
For uncountable nouns, any or how much is used.
Is there any sugar?
How much milk is there?
Finally, when offering something to someone, use some in your sentence, whether countable or uncountable.
Do you want some advice?
Can we have some towels?