Count Nouns

When I talked of Common Nouns, I mentioned Count Nouns and Mass Nouns. Let's look at them in more detail.

On this page, I am going to deal with...

  • what count or countable nouns are

  • and then give you some examples of nouns which may be both countable and uncountable.

What are Count Nouns?

These nouns are names of people, places, things that we can count.

People use also the word "countable" instead of "count" to refer to these nouns.

If you put the numerals one, two, three,... etc. before these nouns, they sound normal to people who know English well. (e.g. one book, two villages, seven dwarfs. twelve apostles)

You can have these numerals even before words that describe a noun. That noun will also be a count noun. (e.g. three wise men, five BRICS countries.)

So, book, villages, dwarfs, apostles, men and countries are Count Nouns.

Mass Nouns

These are names of uncountable things...of things we look upon as one big mass (e.g. water, milk, wood, furniture, information, etc.).

We can't say: two waters, three milks, or five furnitures. That would be wrong.

We can say: two glasses of water, three cups of milk, four logs of wood, five pieces of information, etc. The words, glasses, cups, logs, pieces are countable.

Instead of the word mass in naming these nouns, you may use also the words uncountable or non-count.

But Are the Following Nouns Count or Mass?

Some nouns may be countable as well as uncountable.

Here are some examples:

Glass

  • Please give me a glass of water.
    (glass = a tumbler made of any material; glass here is countable.)

  • The container is made of glass.
    (glass = the material glass; here glass is uncountable.)

  • Where are my glasses?
    (glasses = spectacles. Here the word glasses is used only in the plural.)

Paper

  • I read two papers every morning.
    (paper means newspaper - countable.)

  • Those roses are made of paper.
    (paper refers to the material paper - uncountable.)

  • "Show me your papers," said the policeman.
    (here papers, always used in the plural, means document(s) of identification or authorization).

Work

  • This author has produced two works.
    means, he has written two books. (works = books - countable.)

  • Our mothers do a lot of work at home. (work = the effort to finish tasks - uncountable.)

  • Let us visit our cousin's timber works tomorrow. (works = factory - used only in the plural.)

I have given you these examples to illustrate the fact that all nouns in English do not fall into neat categories of countable and uncountable.

For Further Reading and Study...


Related Pages

What is a Noun?

Kinds of Nouns

Common Nouns

Proper Nouns

Collective Nouns

Concrete and Abstract Nouns

Countable Nouns

Forms and Functions

Number

Gender

Case