Countable and uncountable nouns

Countable nouns are the names of people and objects which can be counted. Examples are: books, pen, tree, boy, country etc.

Countable nouns have plural forms. They can also be used with the indefinite article a/an.

With singular countable nouns, we use the singular form of the verb.

A spider has eight legs.

A computer is a useful machine.

That girl is very beautiful.

With plural countable nouns, we use the plural form of the verb.

Apples are red.

Computers are useful.

Those books are expensive.

What are uncountable nouns?

Uncountable nouns are materials and abstract ideas which cannot be counted. Examples are: news, information, rice, sand, water etc.

Uncountable nouns do not have plural forms. They are usually used with the singular form of the verb.

Some determiners can only be used with countable nouns. Examples are: many and few

She hasn’t got many friends.

He has few friends.

Some determiners can only be used with uncountable nouns. Examples are: much and little

I have little interest in politics.

How much money do you earn in a week?

Usually it is easy to see whether a noun is countable or uncountable. However, some nouns have both countable and uncountable uses, sometimes with a difference of meaning.

Problem cases

Some mass nouns in English are countable, while some are uncountable. Examples are given below:

Countable: bean / beans, pea / peas, grape / grapes, fact / facts

Uncountable: rice, spaghetti, sugar, salt, wheat, news