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Learn About Countable Nouns

Nouns can be classified as countable or uncountable. Countable nouns are people, places, or things that can be counted by a number.
Some examples of countable nouns are words like book/books, brick/bricks, pen/pens, and chair/chairs.

Countable nouns can be made plural (more than one person, place, or thing). Usually the word 'a', 'an', or 'the' comes before a countable noun.

Read the example sentences below. Here, each countable noun is underlined.

  • I only had to take one book home.
  • The librarian let me check out five books.
  • He used a brick as a door stop.
  • Laying the bricks for the fireplace was hard work!
  • The pen she was using stopped working.
  • My teacher always has extra pens ready.
  • My chair continued to squeak all day.
  • All three chairs were empty.

As you can see in these examples, most countable nouns change from the singular form (one) to plural form (more than one) simply by adding an "s" to the singular countable noun.

Some more examples of countable nouns:

1. Mary took the dogs for a walk. Dogs can be counted. We know there is more than one.
2. Sarah bought an apple. We know there is one apple, by the article "an".
3. King Henry had eight wives. We know there were eight wives, by the number eight.

While there are plenty of countable nouns in the English language, there are many uncountable nouns as well.

Nouns: Countable & Uncountable
Some nouns can be countable or uncountable. If you can count the person, place, or thing and make it plural, it is a countable noun. If you cannot count the person, place, or thing and you cannot make it plural, it is an uncountable noun.

Read the example sentences below to see how the same noun can be used as a countable noun and as an uncountable noun.

Countable Nouns Uncountable nouns
  • The Italian bakery sells delicious breads. (kinds of bread)
  • This bread is delicious. I ate three pieces.
  • Stan bought five coffees to go. (five cups of coffee)
  • This is strong coffee.
  • Investigators found two hairs at the crime scene. (individual hairs)
  • Lin has beautiful hair.
  • They had interesting experiences on their trip. (separate experiences)
  • Sid has no experience as a teacher.

  • Jimmy took the test three times. (on three occasions)
  • We had hardly any free time.

Determining Nouns as Countable or Uncountable
Countable nouns tell how many, while uncountable nouns tell how much
. When you encounter a noun and you are unsure whether it is countable or uncountable, ask yourself how many there are of the noun in the sentence.

Read the examples below to determine whether the nouns are countable or uncountable.

1. Mother cooked a chicken for dinner.
How many chickens did Mother cook? The noun is countable because it is defined as one, by the article 'a'.

2. I spilled juice all over the floor.
How many juices did I spill? The noun is uncountable because the quantity is undefined.


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