Monday, March 18

Are You Countable?





You probably already know that there are 2 types of Nouns: (1) Countable and (2) Uncountable. But do you know what they mean exactly?



image courtesy of stock.xchng 



When I ask students what “Countable” means, they easily answer that it is something that we can count. On the other hand, “Uncountable” means something that we cannot count.



This explanation seems simple enough but, in reality, it’s quite complicated. No wonder students easily get confused about Countable and Uncountable Nouns when they are making sentences in English.



If you want to understand what Countable and Uncountable Nouns really are, you have to study Vocabulary. Yes, the topic of Countable and Uncountable Nouns depends a lot on your knowledge of Vocabulary.



Take a look:



Uncountable Words

Countable Words
advice

suggestion
baggage / luggage

bag
scenery

view
furniture

chair / table etc.
money
dollar / peso / pound etc. (not won, yen etc.)

work

job
weather

day



Are you surprised? Perhaps you didn’t expect some of the Vocabulary on the left side to be Uncountable.



As a matter of fact, all the words on the left side are Uncountable, while all the words on the right are Countable.



So, what does this mean?



It means that if you want to use any word on the left side, you cannot use it in plural form. Because it doesn’t have any plural form. And you can’t add the Articlea” or the word “many” before them.



This is the true meaning of Uncountable.



This is why these sentences are all wrong:



# 1. I have 3 works / homeworks. = X


# 2. Can you give me an advice? = X


# 3. We have many baggages. = X


# 4. It’s a beautiful weather. = X


# 5. What a great scenery! = X



Why?



It’s just their nature as Vocabulary. Countable words can have 2 different forms: (1) Singular and (2) Plural. On the other hand, Uncountable words only have 1.



First, Countable:



Countable Nouns

1st Form

2nd Form
a book

books
a guest

guests
a child

children
a dollar

dollars
a sport

sports
a person

people



I’m sure that you know many other examples of Countable Nouns. There are a lot of them in English.



While…



Uncountable Nouns

1st Form
2nd Form

water

X
money

X
hair

X
paper

X
chicken

X
cake

X



Of course there are special cases. Especially when the Noun changes meaning. An Uncountable Noun can sometimes become Countable.



For example,



*SPECIAL CASES



# 1. Waiter! There’s a hair in my soup! 
= Ok (one piece of hair)


# 2. Every morning my father reads a paper. 
= Ok (newspaper)


# 3. The secretary is filing the papers
= Ok (documents)


# 4. There are many chickens on the farm. 
= Ok (animal, not meat)


# 5. There are many cakes in the bakery. 
= Ok (whole, not a piece)



But because you are still students, it’s better for you to practice Countable and Uncountable Nouns separately. Don’t worry about the special cases yet. First, practice the Uncountable Nouns as Uncountable only, until you become very familiar with them.



More importantly, you should increase your Vocabulary of Countable and Uncountable Nouns.




How to Use



Going back to our first examples…



Uncountable Words
Countable Words

advice

suggestion
baggage / luggage

bag
scenery

view
furniture

chair / table etc.
money
dollar / peso / pound etc. (not won, yen etc.)

work

job
weather

day



Because all the words on the left side are Uncountable Nouns, they don’t have a plural form. You can’t add the letter “s” at the end of these words, and you can’t add the Article a” at the beginning.



You have to use them like this:



# 1. I have a lot of work / a little homework
= Ok


# 2. Can you give me (a piece of) advice / some advice? 
= Ok


# 3. We have a lot of baggage. = Ok


# 4. It’s beautiful weather. = Ok (no “a”)


# 5. What lovely scenery! = Ok (no “a”)



Or if you look at the right side of our table, you can see a list of Countable Nouns.



Luckily, the Uncountable Nouns on the left have words with similar or the same meaning. This isn’t always possible. But with our example words here we can use the Countable Nouns on the right side as substitute:



advice = suggestion


baggage = bag


scenery = view

etc.


So,



# 1. I have 3 jobs / 3 homework assignments. 
= Ok


# 2. Can you give me a suggestion? 
= Ok


# 3. We have many bags. = Ok


# 4. It’s a beautiful day. = Ok


# 5. What a lovely view! = Ok





Hope You Learned Something!

Keep on learning !












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