Uncountable Noun

Definition: An uncountable noun (or non-count noun) is a type of common noun that cannot be modified by a number without specifying a unit of measurement. In general, non-count nouns are considered to refer to indivisible wholes (which are not individual objects and can not be counted). For this reason, they are sometimes called MASS nouns. Uncountable nouns are used to describe a quality, action, thing or substance that can be poured or measured. Non-Count nouns also refer to a whole category made up of different varieties or a whole group of things that is made up of many individual parts. Uncountable nouns are always singular. Use the singular form of the verb with uncountable nouns.

For example:

  • There is some water in that pitcher.
  • That is the equipment we use for the project.

Examples:

Usually non-count nouns
Things Qualities Actions Fields of Study
water
stuff
money
advice
proof
equipment
dust
homework
fun
information
ink
luck
dependability
honesty
loyalty
sincerity
integrity
walking/to walk
typing/to type
jumping/to jump
thinking/to think
swimming/to swim
psychology
history
social work
economics
biology
English
anatomy
philosophy
religion
theology

Some nouns, like the word time, beauty, fire, death, gossip can be used as either a count noun, or a non-count noun.

For example:

  • How much time did it take for you to drive to school?.
    Here, time is a non-count noun, because it refers to a category that contains smaller items (think of it as a "group" of minutes).
  • How many times did you take the test before you passed?.
    Here, time is a count noun, because you can count exactly how many separate times you took the test.
  • They had a death in the family.
  • Death is a tragic thing.
  • Supermarkets have aisles for different foods.
  • The animals at the zoo wanted food.

The "much" and "many" Rule
Many is used with count nouns.

For example:

  • How many papers do you have to write?
  • There were too many books required for that class.

Much is used with non-count nouns.

For example:

  • How much homework did you have last night?
  • I had to read so much literature for my English class.

You can use "some" and "any" with uncountable nouns.
For example:

  • I usually drink some wine with my meal.
  • I don't usually drink any water with my wine.

You only use "much" and "little" with uncountable nouns.
For example:
  • I don't usually drink much coffee.
  • Little wine is undrinkable though.

You can use "a lot of" and "no" with uncountable nouns.
For example:
  • A lot of wine is drunk in France.
  • No wine is drunk in Iran.



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