Count and Noncount Nouns Part 1

Count and Noncount Nouns Part 1

It’s important to understand the difference between count and noncount nouns. This is the simple version for beginners (part 1). Advanced learners might want the more complete Count and Noncount Nouns Part 2.

Count Noncount
Numbers Yes
– three apples, four potatoes
No
– air, water
Plural verbs Yes
– are cars, are people
No
– is coffee, is sugar
A, An Yes
– a person, an orange
No
– rice, milk
Many Yes
– many things
No
Much No Yes
– much money

Count noncount chart image showing various food items

Numbers in Front of Count

Count nouns can have numbers in front of them while noncount nouns cannot.

Examples

Count Noncount
two apples two milk
three potatoes milk
three lettuce
lettuce

Plural Verbs for Count

Count nouns can have a plural form and will use a plural verb. Noncount only have a singular form and can only have a singular verb.

Examples

Count Noncount
There are four cookies. There is milk.
There aren’t any bananas. There isn’t any rice.

No ‘A’ or ‘An’ for Noncount

Noncount nouns never have the indefinite article ‘a’ or ‘an’ (which mean ‘one’) directly in front of them. Count nouns, however, can have the indefinite article ‘a’ or ‘an’ (because ‘a’ and ‘an’ mean ‘one’).

Examples

Count Noncount
An apple an air
A potato A tank of air
a bread
A loaf of bread

Much/Many

Count nouns use ‘many’ but noncount nouns use ‘much’.

Examples

Count Noncount
Are there many students? Is there much money?
There aren’t many people. There isn’t much air.

 

This is the simple way to explain the difference between count and noncount nouns. If you want the full explanation, check out the Count and Noncount Nouns Part 2 lesson.