Grammar – Countable or uncountable?

Explanation

In English some nouns can be counted, and some cannot. We call the nouns that can be counted countable. We call the nouns that cannot be counted uncountable.

It is important to know if a noun is countable or uncountable because it can change how we use the nouns and what words we put around the nouns.

Countable nouns

Countable nouns are normally things that you can number.

One person, two people, three people.

One cat, two cats, three cats.

One student, two students, three students.

Uncountable nouns

Uncountable nouns are normally things that cannot be numbered, or cannot be numbered easily.

 rice, water, beer, time, coffee, advice, information, paper

How to number things that are uncountable

To number things that are uncountable we often use a countable noun in front of the uncountable noun, then put of between.

A countable of uncountable.

Three glasses of water.

A slice of bread.

Two pieces of paper.

But, sometimes we use uncountable nouns for drinks (like beer, coffee, tea or water) to mean a glass of. . . So, you might hear a Kiwi ask for three waters, or two beers. This is fine.

Quiz

Countable or Uncountable?

small logo