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ESL Grammar Resources

Count/Non-Count Nouns           


Count nouns have two forms: singular and plural. They can be used with numbers and quantifying expressions such as many, several, and few.

One potato two potatoes several potatoes few potatoes

When used as subjects in present tense sentences, count nouns require the -s form of the verb in the singular and the base form of the verb in the plural.

The dog sleeps.  The dogs sleep.  The bear has large claws.

Non-count nouns have only one form. When used as subjects in present tense sentences, non-count nouns require the -s form of the verb.

Juice contains many vitamins.  Honesty is the best policy.

Some nouns can be either count or non-count.

Job experience is essential Some experiences can be funny.
Milk contains calcium. Two milks, please. (informal)

Both count and non-count nouns can be quantified. That is, they can be used with expressions which divide them into parts or groups which can be counted. For example,

Two apples Two bags of apples
One cookie A box of cookies
milk Two cartons of milk
sugar A cup of sugar

Sometimes a non-count noun is used to indicate a "group" of items, whereas individual items within the group are countable. For example,

Non-count Count
Money dollars, bills, fives, cents, dimes, coins
Time years, months, days, hours, minutes
Clothing dresses, pants, shirts, socks, shoes
Furniture Tables, chairs, sofas, lamps
Luggage suitcases, briefcases, bags, carry-ons

For Practice:

Countable or Non-Countable Nouns (from The Internet TESL Journal)

See also :

Speaking : Count and Non-count Nouns in Context

Grammar : Subject-Verb Agreement

Grammar : Quantifiers

The Noncount Noun (from Grammar Bytes)


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