Count vs. Non-Count Nouns

Count Nouns

Count (or countable) nouns are nouns that we can count. If you can count something, you can have one (singular) or more (plural). You can have just one eye, but you probably have two eyes. One eye, two eyes – you can count them.

one-eyed monster

This monster has one eye.
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two-eyed monster

This monster has two eyes.
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three-eyed monster

This monster has three eyes.
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Here are some things you can count. Ask your teacher about the rules for spelling plural nouns.

singular and plural noun forms

Non-Count Nouns

Non-count (or non-countable/uncountable) nouns are those do not have a plural form because we don’t count them. Most liquids, powders and grains are uncountable. We say you eat cereal for breakfast, not cereals. And you put sugar on it, not sugars. And you drink coffee with it, not coffees.

Here are some examples of non-countable nouns:

uncountable nouns

Abstract nouns – things you can’t see or touch – are also usually uncountable. Abstract nouns include: justice, love, strength, safety, danger, knowledge, anger, culture, life, death, courage, and peace.

 

Making Uncountable Nouns Countable

We sometimes make non-count nouns countable when we refer to the container or form in which they come. You order two coffees (one for you, one for your friend), but what you really mean is two cups of coffee. You’re counting the cups, not the liquid. We also use a countable noun + of + a non-count noun to make uncountable nouns countable. Some examples of this include:

  • a loaf of bread
  • a slice/piece of bread
  • a carton of milk
  • a gallon of milk
  • a cup of juice
  • a drop of juice
  • a bowl of cereal
  • a box of cereal
  • a grain of rice
  • a kernel of corn
  • a grain of sand
  • a cup of flour
  • a teaspoon of sugar
  • a demonstration of strength
  • a feeling of love
  • a story of justice

 

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