nouns count & non-count

Download Nouns   Count & Non-count

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Here is part 5 of the series on "Nouns". This is about count & uncountable nouns. It is good to use in your classroom or at your home for review for your children. There are exercises and exercises that can be downloaded also.


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Uncountable NounsCategories of Non-count NounsCountable and Uncountable NounsThe major division of English nouns is into "countable" and "uncountable".Countable nouns are also called "count nouns".Uncountable nouns are also called "mass nouns".

This is money, right? Can you count it? You cannot count it because all the money here is from different countries. If you were to take one, you could count it. Example:

1,800 dollarsPartitive Structure with Uncountable NounsTo count or quantify an uncountable noun we use a unit of measurement - a measure word. For example, we cannot usually say two breads because bread is uncountable. So, if we want to specify a quantity of bread we use a measure word such as loaf or slice in a structure like two loaves of bread or two slices of bread. We call this structure a partitive structure.partitive structurequantitymeasure word(partitive, countable noun)"of"uncountable nountwo cups of coffeeseveral games of tennis a drop of water 1. __________ students are in the class? How many of How many2. I don't have __________ about the Internet. much knowledge many knowledge3. Can you give me __________ information? a little a few4. Wow, what a large __________ of money! number amountChoose the best answer for each of the following:Answers Countable nouns can be singular or plural:My dog is playing.My dogs are hungry.We can use the indefinite article a/an with countable nouns:A dog is an animal.When a countable noun is singular, we must use a word like a/the/my/this with it:I want an orange. (not I want orange.)Where is my bottle? (not Where is bottle?)When a countable noun is plural, we can use it alone:I like oranges.Bottles can break.We can use some and any with countable nouns:I've got some dollars.Have you got any pens?We can use a few and many with countable nouns:I've got a few dollars.I haven't got many pens."People" is countable. "People" is the plural of "person". We can count people:There is one person here.There are three people here.Uncountable NounsUncountable nouns are substances, concepts etc that we cannot divide into separate elements. We cannot "count" them. For example, we cannot count "milk". We can count "bottles of milk" or "litres of milk", but we cannot count "milk" itself. Here are some more uncountable nouns:music, art, love, happinessadvice, information, newsfurniture, luggagerice, sugar, butter, waterelectricity, gas, powermoney, currencyWe usually treat uncountable nouns as singular. We use a singular verb. For example:This news is very important.Your luggage looks heavy.We do not usually use the indefinite article a/an with uncountable nouns. We cannot say "an information" or "a music". But we can say a something of:a piece of newsa bottle of watera grain of riceWe can use some and any with uncountable nouns:I've got some money.Have you got any rice?In a question, you should use any. Although the use of some is very common in everyday speaking.We can use a little and much with uncountable nouns:I've got a little money.I haven't got much rice.Uncountable nouns are also called "mass nouns".CategoryExamplesAbstractionsadvice, courage, enjoyment, fun, help, honesty, information, intelligence, knowledge, patience, etc.Activitieschess, homework, housework, music, reading, singing, sleeping, soccer, tennis, work, etc.Foodbeef, bread, butter, fish, macaroni, meat, popcorn, pork, poultry, toast, etc.Gasesair, exhaust, helium, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, pollution, smog, smoke, steam, etc.Groups of Similar Itemsbaggage, clothing, furniture, hardware, luggage, equipment, mail, money, software, vocabulary, etc.Liquidsblood, coffee, gasoline, milk, oil, soup, syrup, tea, water, wine, etc.Natural Eventselectricity, gravity, heat, humidity, moonlight, rain, snow, sunshine, thunder, weather, etc.Materialsaluminum, asphalt, chalk, cloth, concrete, cotton, glue, lumber, wood, wool, etc.Particles or Grainscorn, dirt, dust, flour, hair, pepper, rice, salt, sugar, wheat, etc.Know how to indicate number with non-count nouns.Thunder, a non-count noun, cannot have an s added at the end. You can, however, lie awake in bed counting the number of times you hear thunder boom during a storm.When you want to indicate number with a non-count word, you have two options. First, you can put of in front of the non-count wordfor example, of thunderand then attach the resulting prepositional phrase to an appropriate count word.Kristina heard seven claps of thunder.A second option is to make the non-count noun an adjective that you place before a count noun. Then you could write a sentence like this:Thunderheads filled the sky.Here are some more examples:Non-count NounCountable Versionadvicepieces of advicehomeworkhomework assignmentsbreadloaves of bread, slices of breadsmokepuffs of smoke, plumes of smokesoftwaresoftware applicationswinebottles of wine, glasses of winesnowsnow storms, snowflakes, snow driftsclothbolts of cloth, yards of clothdirtpiles of dirt, truckloads of dirtNouns that can be Countable and UncountableWhen you learn a new word, it's a good idea to learn whether it's countable or uncountable.Sometimes a word that means one thing as a non-count noun has a slightly different meaning if it also has a countable version. Remember, then, that the classifications count and non-count are not absolute.Time is a good example. When you use this word to mean the unceasing flow of experience that includes past, present, and future, with no distinct beginning or end, then time is a non-count noun. Read this example:Time dragged as Simon sat through yet another boring chick flick with his girlfriend Roseanne.Time = non-count because it has no specific beginning and, for poor Simon, no foreseeable end.When time refers to a specific experience which starts at a certain moment and ends after a number of countable units [minutes, hours, days, etc.], then the noun is count. Here is an example:On his last to Disney World, Joe rode Space Mountain twenty-seven times.Times = count because a ride on Space Mountain is a measurable unit of experience, one that you can clock with a stopwatch.Sometimes, the same noun can be countable and uncountable, often with a change of meaning.CountableUncountableThere are two hairs in my coffee!hairI don't have much hair.There are two lights in our bedroom.lightClose the curtain. There's too much light!Shhhhh! I thought I heard a noise.There are so many different noises in the city.noiseIt's difficult to work when there is so much noise.Have you got a paper to read? (newspaper)Hand me those student papers.paperI want to draw a picture. Have you got some paper?Our house has seven rooms.roomIs there room for me to sit here?We had a great time at the party.How many times have I told you no?timeHave you got time for a cup of coffee?Macbeth is one of Shakespeare's greatest works.workI have no money. I need work!Drinks (coffee, water, orange juice) are usually uncountable. But if we are thinking of a cup or a glass, we can say (in a restaurant, for example):

Two teas and one coffee please.We can use the same uncountable noun in different partitive expressions with different meanings. For example, a loaf of bread and a slice of bread are partitive expressions with different meanings. A loaf of bread is what we call a whole unit of bread that we buy from a baker. A slice of bread is what we call a smaller unit of bread after it has been cut from a loaf.Here are some more examples:Don't forget to buy a bag of rice when you go shopping.Can I have one cup of coffee and two cups of tea.The police found some items of clothing scattered around the floor.I need a truck that will take at least three pieces of furniture.You'd think a tablespoon of honey would be more than enough.The word "partitive" indicates that only "part" of a whole is being referred to. The partitive structure using a measure word is common with uncountable nouns, but it can also be used with countable nouns, for example: a series of accidents, two boxes of matches, a can of worms.Common Measure Words with Uncountable NounsPartitive expressions using measure words collocate strongly.a bag of flour | rice | gold dusta bar of chocolate | gold | soapa bottle of Coke | milk | water | winea bowl of cereal | rice | soupa box of cereal | papera can of cream | meat | tunaa carton of ice-cream | orange juice | milk a cup of hot chocolate | coffee | teaa drop of blood | oil | watera glass of beer | juice | water | winea grain of rice | sand | truthan item of clothing | expenditure | newsa jar of honey | jam | peanut buttera piece of advice | furniture | papera roll of paper | tape | toilet paper | Scotch tapea slice of bread | cheese | meat | toasta spoonful of sugar | syrup | whiskya tablespoon of butter | honey | ketchupa teaspoon of cinnamon | medicine | salta tube of glue | lipstick | toothpasteMeasure words are common with uncountable nouns, but some of them can also be used with countable nouns, for example: two boxes of matches, a can of worms.5. __________ time do you have? How many How much6. I need _______ things for my new house. a few a little7. I like to take __________ photos. much many8. Dave wants to have __________ children. much manyAnswers Are the following nouns count or non-count? Put an N next to the non-count nouns and a C next to the count nouns. If the noun can be either non-count or count depending on the context, put a D next to it.1. world2. textbook3. vinegar4. flame5. poetry6. applause7. thought1. C2. C3. D 4. C5. N6. N7. D8. banana9. conduct10. progress11. biology12. essay13. gem14. shopping8. C9. N10. N11. N12. C 13. C 14. NAnswers The link below is to some worksheets that you can use for class work, home work, or for yourself.Cont & Uncountable Nouns Work Sheets