February 3rd, 2012 in English Grammar
Many nouns have both countable and uncountable uses. There is usually some difference of meaning. Material nouns, for example, are uncountable, but we can often use the same word as a countable noun to refer to something made of that material.
Have you got any typing paper? (Here the noun paper is uncountable.)
I am going out to buy a paper. (= I am going out to buy a newspaper.) Here the noun paper is countable because we are actually referring to something made of the material called paper.
Have you got any tea? (Uncountable)
Could I have two teas? (Countable)
Many abstract nouns can have both uncountable and countable uses. The uncountable form is used with a ‘general’ meaning whereas the countable form has a ‘particular’ meaning.
Don’t hurry – take your own time. (Here time is used as an uncountable noun.)
Have a nice time. (Here time is used as a countable noun.)
I had a strange experience last week. (Here experience is used as a countable noun.)
I have got enough experience for the job. (Here experience is used as an uncountable noun.)
Singular countable nouns are sometimes used as uncountables with quantifiers like much, enough, a lot of or plenty of.
She has got too much chin. (Chin is usually a countable noun, but in this case it is used as an uncountable.)
Note that we use much with uncountable nouns and many with countable nouns.