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6-K) Countable & uncountable nouns (LearnEnglishZone) UNIT 6 lesson K

Nouns in English may be countable or uncountable. We need to know this if we want to use the English articles correctly so before learning the articles (Unit 6-L) we will see here a little introduction to countable/uncountable nouns and a bit of the articles too.

Note: I'm sorry but the PDF's he talks about on this video are nowhere to be found, but you have two videos with exercises to practise everything he teaches here. Look for them in the related videos below.

In this first lesson we're going to look at countable and uncountable nouns. Now, this is a really important and basic area of English grammar and I'll show you to key rules to remember for your speaking and writing. But first let's look at the basics. Now, you probably know already that countable nouns, like "apple", can be counted, for example, one apple, to apples, three apples, whereas uncountable nouns, like "milk", can't be counted, so we can't say, for example, one, two or three milks. If we want to count milk we have to say one or two "glasses" or "bottles" of milk.

Here's some more examples. "Apple", we've seen, is countable. "Milk", we've seen, is uncountable. How about "book"? Well, we can say one, two, three books, so it must be countable. It's the same with "insect". It's countable. Now, "bread", on the other hand, is uncountable, and if we want to count it we would say "slices" or "loaves" of bread.

Similarly, "information" is uncountable to count it, we would say "a piece" or "two pieces" of information. Finally, "money" is uncountable.

Now there are some words which can be both countable and uncountable and we'll look at those words later on in this lesson. For now let's turn to key rule number one, and this rule concerns the use of A or An or the indefinite article.

The rule is that A or AN can only be used with countables, and not with uncountables. For example we can say "an apple", "a book", "an insect". We can't say "a milk", "a bread", "an information" or "a money". That's rule number one.

Key rule number two, and this concerns the use of plurals. The rule is that, again, plurals can only be used with countables. For example "apples", "books", "insects". We can't say "milks", "breads", "informations" or "monies".

So those are the two rules. Let's summarize what we have so far:

Countables can count. Uncountables can't count.
Countables can use A or AN. Uncountables can't use A or AN.
And countables, finally, can use plurals. Can't use plurals in uncountables.

Now, I said earlier that some nouns can be both countable and uncountable. And I've prepared a list of those nouns in the PDF which you can download. Examples are "coffee" ("would you like a coffee?" or "I love coffee" -on the uncountable side-).

Also on the PDF are two other columns: words which are strictly countable and words which are strictly uncountable.

So that's the end of this lesson. Join me in part two for the practice exercises and in the lesson after this we're going to look at the Superimportant area of articles in English, so: A, AN, THE and ZERO article.

COUNTABLE NOUNS can be counted: 1, 2, 3... They have singular and plural forms
book (one book, two books, three books)
car (one car, two cars, three cars)

UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS cannot be counted and so they have no plural.
milk (not: one milk, two milks but a little milk or a lot of milk. Not: milks)
money (you can count euros or dollars or pennies, but you can't say: one money, two monies!)

We can use THE with singular and plural nouns:
- You can put it on the table
- All the tables here are made of wood

We can only use A/AN with singular nouns
- Please, give me an apple
- Please, give me apples and bananas

We can use THE with countables and uncountables:

- The book is on the table (countables)
- I don't want to swim, the water here is very cold (uncountable)

We can only use AN/AN with countable nouns
- Can I have a pizza, please? (pizza is countable)
- Can I have milk, please? (milk is uncountable)

So this is what we have:

Countable singular: A / THE
Countable plural: * / THE
Uncountable singular: * / THE
Uncountable plural: * / THE

THE can be used in every case, A/AN can only be used with singular countable nouns. In the other three cases we cannot use A/An, we use nothing or we can use the article: SOME/ANY (click here to learn about them: Unit 6-M)

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