Grade 3 English (IEO) : Countable / Uncountable Nouns

Countable and Uncountable nouns

Nouns are used as uncountable nouns when they refer to a substance, material or phenomenon in general but they are used as countable nouns when they refer to one particular unit which is composed of that substance or to one occurrence of the phenomenon in question.

For more questions

A) Most nouns have singular and plural forms. They are countable nouns.

e.g. One letter, two letters

  • There is a letter on the table for you. (singular)
  • There are letters on the table for you. (plural)

B) Some nouns only have one form. They are uncountable nouns.

e.g. Money

  • There is no money in my bank account.
  • There is a lot of money in my bank account.

C) Many uncountable nouns refer to substances:

e.g. Chocolate, water, coffee, milk, sugar, salt, cheese, bread, rice, wood, glass, plastic, soap, toothpaste.

  • Do you have any chocolate?
  • The milk is sour – let’s make cheese.
  • Rice is only edible when it has been cooked.

D) Many uncountable nouns refer to abstract ideas or emotions.

e.g. love, sadness, happiness, education, knowledge, and grammar.

  • Money can’t buy love.
  • We like to experience happiness.
  • This education is priceless.

E) You can use a/an with singular countable nouns.

e.g. an umbrella, a wheel, a mistake.

  • It’s raining so I need an umbrella.
  • I made a mistake.
  • This is a job for superman.

F) You can use plural countable nouns alone.

e.g. apples, bees, clouds.

  • There are clouds in the sky today.
  • There are bees making honey.
  • We eat apples for breakfast.

G) You can’t use an article with an uncountable noun.

e.g. time, sand, electricity.

  • We need electricity to use our heater.
  • I lost track of time and we stayed up very late.
  • The beaches in Brazil have very nice sand.

H) It is very common in English to use some / any with plural nouns and uncountable nouns (Refer to grammar notes on Some Any for more details).

e.g. They don’t listen to any advice.

  • We don’t have any toys for the children.
  • There are many lessons in life, this is just one more.
  • It is important to have some knowledge of grammar.

I) There are a range of nouns that are uncountable in English but are countable in other languages.

These include: accommodation, advice, baggage, behaviour, bread, chaos, damage, furniture, information, luck, luggage, news, permission, progress, scenery, traffic, weather and work.

J) For comparison purposes, look at these sentences:

Countable Uncountable
I’m looking for a job. I’m looking for work.
What a beautiful view! What beautiful scenery!
It’s a nice day today. It’s nice weather today.
We had a lot of bags and suitcases. We had a lot of luggage.
These chairs are mine. This furniture is mine.
It was a good suggestion. It was good advice.

Some and Any

We use SOME and ANY with plural nouns and uncountable nouns.

Some is generally used in positive sentences.

Any is generally used in negative sentences.

  • I have some information for you about flights to Paris.
    (Positive – Uncountable)
  • I don’t have any information for you about flights to Paris.
    (Negative – Uncountable)
  • We met some friends for drinks after work yesterday.
    (Positive – Plural Countable)
  • I didn’t see any friends there on Thursday.
    (Negative – Plural Countable)
  • I think he will have some time to speak to you today.
    (Positive – Uncountable)
  • I don’t think he will have any time to speak to you today.
    (Negative – Uncountable)

You can also use SOME and ANY in a sentence without a noun if the meaning of the sentence is clear.

  • I didn’t eat any salad but Peter ate some. (salad)
  • Sean took lots of photos of the mountains but Emma didn’t take any. (photos)

Examples of countable nouns

In English most of nouns belong to the category of countable nouns. These nouns form plural forms by adding the ending -s or -es.

Grade 3 English(IEO): One word for many words

Common one word substitutions :

    1. Depreciate
      decline in value
    2. Deteriorate
      become worse or disintegrate
    3. Eccentric
      conspicuously or grossly unconventional or unusual
    4. Ecology
      the environment as it relates to living organisms
    5. Fastidious
      giving careful attention to detail
    6. Incredible
      beyond belief or understanding
    7. Indispensable
    8. Abolish
      do away with
    9. Accelerate
      move faster
    10. Accountable
      responsible for one’s actions
    11. Amateur
      someone who pursues a study or sport as a pastime
    12. Ambivalent
      uncertain or unable to decide about what course to follow
    13. Amnesia
      partial or total loss of memory
    14. Anonymous
      having no known name or identity or known source
    15. Appreciate
      be fully aware of; realize fully
    16. Atheist
      someone who denies the existence of god
    17. Audience
      a gathering of spectators or listeners at a performance
    18. Auditor
      a qualified accountant who inspects accounting records
    19. Autobiography
      a book or account of your own life
    20. Bilingual
      using or knowing two languages
    21. Biography
      an account of the series of events making up a person’s life
    22. Colleague

      an associate that one works with
    23. Congenital
      present at birth but not necessarily hereditary
    24. Contemporaries
      all the people living at the same time or of the same age
    25. Contemporary
      occurring in the same period of time
    26. Cosmopolitan
      composed of people from many parts of the world
    27. Delegate
      a person appointed or elected to represent others
    28. Democracy
      the orientation of those who favor government by the people
    29. Tie
      fasten or secure with a rope, string, or cord
    30. Edible
      suitable for use as food
    31. Eligible
      qualified for or allowed or worthy of being chosen
    32. Emphasize
      stress or single out as important
    33. Epidemic
      a widespread outbreak of an infectious disease
    34. Equilibrium
      a stable situation in which forces cancel one another
    35. Eradicate
      destroy completely, as if down to the roots
    36. Etiquette
      rules governing socially acceptable behavior
    37. Glutton
      a person who is devoted to eating and drinking to excess
    38. Gregarious
      temperamentally seeking and enjoying the company of others
    39. Gullible
      naive and easily deceived or tricked
    40. Illegal
      prohibited by law or by official or accepted rules
    41. Illegible
      unable to be read
    42. Illicit
      contrary to accepted morality or convention
    43. Illiterate
      not able to read or write
    44. Immigrant
      a person who comes to a country in order to settle there
    45. Inaudible
      impossible to hear; imperceptible by the ear
    46. Inevitable
      incapable of being avoided or prevented
    47. Inflammable
      easily ignited
    48. Insatiable
      impossible to satisfy
    49. Insoluble
      incapable of being dissolved
    50. Invincible
      incapable of being overcome or subdued
    51. Invisible
      impossible or nearly impossible to see
    52. Invulnerable
      immune to attack; impregnable
    53. Invincible
      incapable of being overcome or subdued
    54. Invisible
      impossible or nearly impossible to see
    55. Invulnerable
      immune to attack; impregnable
    56. Irrelevant
      having no bearing on or connection with the subject at issue
    57. Irritable
      easily annoyed
    58. Legal
      established by or founded upon law or official rules
    59. Manuscript
      the form of a literary work submitted for publication
    60. Medieval
      relating to or belonging to the Middle Ages

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Grade 1: IEO Papers

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