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Lesson 4.3

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Los nombres contables e incontables
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Nouns in English can be either countable or uncountable.

Countable Nouns

Countable nouns are those nouns that can be counted.


 one [a] pencil
 two cats
 three houses

Uncountable Nouns

Uncountable nouns are those nouns which cannot be counted because they cannot be defined individually, but rather are part of a whole. As such, they are treated as singular (you can not make them plural by adding “-s”).

  salt,   wood,   tea,   wine,   sugar,   bread,   furniture,
  hair,   information,   money,   weather,   time,   rice

However, once we delimit these nouns by placing a countable expression in front of the noun, they become countable.


 a gram of salt
 a piece of wood
 two cups of tea
 three glasses of wine

Grammatical Rules

1. Countable nouns have a plural form (regular or irregular):


 egg → eggs
 bicycle → bicycles
 dress → dresses

Uncountable nouns do not have a plural form:


2. You can use “a” or “an” with countable nouns in singular:


 an apple
 a house

We cannot use “a” or “an” with uncountable nouns:

a milk

3. Numbers can be used in front of countable nouns:


 three apples
 five houses

Numbers cannot be used in front of uncountable nouns:

two rices
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