Countable and uncountable nouns
If we can count something, it is a countable noun. We see countable nouns as individual items.
Countable nouns can be singular and plural.
a pen — two pens
a house — two houses
We cannot use singular countable nouns on their own, without an indefinite article a/an (= one). We must add a/an to them.
I've got an apple, an orange and a banana. WRONG: I've got apple, orange and banana.
There is a hole in the wall. WRONG: There is hole in the wall.
If we cannot count individual items and use numbers to talk about their quantity, then this noun is uncountable.
There are several groups of uncountable nouns.
- liquids (water, oil, milk, wine)
- powder and grain (sand, rice, flour, sugar)
- food (bread, butter, coffee)
- feelings (love, sadness, anger, happiness)
- abstract terms (advice, information, work, money, cash)
- natural phenomena (rain, snow, sunshine, weather)
Uncountable nouns do not have the plural and you cannot use them with an indefinite article a/an. We use other words to measure their quantity.
music — kinds of music
money — a lot of money
cheese — two pieces of cheese
paper — three sheets of paper
tea — one cup of tea
The words advice, news, and hair are uncountable in English. That means they are always singular and we don't use them with "a/an".
Can you give me a piece of advice? Your advice is always helpful. WRONG: an advice, your advices are
A: What's the news? B: The news is bad, I'm afraid. WRONG: What are the news? The news are bad.
My hair is dirty, I need to wash it. WRONG: My hair are dirty, I need to wash them.
Countable and uncountable nouns in one table
|Individual items, have quantity||two chairs
|Cannot be counted||water (two waters)
air (five airs)
|Can be singular and plural||a girl — two girls
a tree — two trees
|Can only be singular||two bottles of water
three pieces of bread
|Singular nouns need an article||He has a car.
We live in a house.
|Singular nouns don’t have an article "a/an"||She drinks coffee with milk.
(a coffee with a milk)
|advice, news, hair are uncountable||to give a piece of advice
the news is good
hair is blonde