Count and Noncount Nouns

Count and Noncount Nouns

Master count and noncount nouns to elevate your English fluency. Learn the differences, uses, and examples to enhance your grammar skills effectively.


Mastering English grammar nuances can significantly enhance your fluency and confidence. One such intricate aspect is understanding the distinction between count and noncount nouns. By grasping these concepts, you can elevate your language proficiency and communicate more precisely. Let’s delve into the specifics of count and noncount nouns, uncovering their unique characteristics and applications.

Before we begin, take this Pretest on Quizizz to assess your current understanding of count and noncount nouns.

Count and Noncount Nouns

In English, nouns function as either count or noncount (mass). While some nouns are considered to be count and others noncount, there are many cases where a noun can be count or noncount, depending on how it is used in the sentence. Consider the following pairs of examples:

  • Jane went to buy a hamburger (count).
  • Jane went to buy some hamburger (noncount).
  • At fifty, Aunt Katherine didn’t have even one gray hair (count).
  • A man with gray hair entered the room (noncount).

In the first sentence, "hamburger" is used as a count noun to refer to a piece of meat between slices of bread. 

In the second sentence, "hamburger," a noncount noun, refers to a kind of meat (like lamb, chicken, pork, or fish) that Jane is buying. It is possible to say, "A hamburger (count) is made from hamburger (noncount)."

In the third sentence, "hair" is count because the emphasis is on the number of gray hairs. However, "hair" is much more commonly viewed as noncount, as in the fourth sentence, which refers to the color of the man’s hair.

Count nouns are thought of as more specific entities. The speaker tends to view them as individual, separate units. Noncount or mass nouns, on the other hand, are thought to be more nonspecific, more abstract, or in some cases less tangible. They are not considered easily divisible into individual units. Noncount nouns may include larger masses of things, gases, liquids, granular or powder-like substances, concepts, forces, categories, etc.

The following is a list of count and noncount nouns. Add your own examples.

Noncount Nouns and Their Count Equivalents

homeworkan assignment
moneyone dollar and fifty cents
golda gold bar (bar is count)
fruitan apple, a banana
equipmenta ball and a bat
furniturea chair, a lamp
clothingclothes (plural), a dress
troublea problem
newsa news item (item is count)
luggage, baggagea bag, a suitcase
wooda log, a board, a piece of wood (piece is count)
meat: pork, beef, chickena pig, a pork chop, a cow, a hamburger, a chicken, a chicken leg
coffeea cup of coffee (cup is count)
perfumea bottle of perfume (bottle is count)
knowledgea piece of knowledge, a fact
informationa piece of information, a bit of information (bit is count)
mathematics, biology, psychologya subject, an area of studies, a major
researcha research paper

*Clothes can be used with quantity expressions such as "a few clothes" but not with numbers. It is generally incorrect to say "two clothes."

Notice that noncount nouns commonly represent a general class or category of things, such as furniture. Items in that class are usually count, such as sofa, chair, and table.

Quantity Expressions

Some quantity expressions are used only with noncount nouns, while others are used with count nouns. "Some" and "a lot of" can accompany both.

a littlea few
little (so little)few (so few)
much (so much, very much, too much)many (so many, very many, too many)
a lot ofa lot of
an amount of*a number of

*An amount of + a count noun may be used in conversational English, but it is usually avoided in formal English.

Examples of these quantity expressions with count and noncount nouns are:

  • So few people have time to relax (count).
  • I prefer to travel with less luggage (noncount).

The first five quantity expressions in the list cannot be accompanied by "of" if a noun directly follows:

  • Can I borrow a little sugar?
  • There are too many cars on the highway.

"Of" is used when the speaker is referring to a specific, known entity—a person, a tangible or intangible item, a substance, etc. In these cases, "of" is followed by the definite article "the" or the demonstrative "this," an object pronoun (e.g., them, us), or a possessive pronoun (e.g., my, his):

  • Some of the sugar spilled on the floor.
  • John noticed the books on sale and bought a few of them.
  • A few of my friends are pilots.

Practice Test 

Now that you've learned about count and noncount nouns, test your understanding with this Practice Test on Quizizz.


Understanding the difference between count and noncount nouns is crucial for mastering English grammar. By recognizing when a noun is used as a count or noncount noun, you can refine your language skills and express yourself more clearly and accurately. This knowledge not only aids in everyday communication but also enhances your academic and professional English proficiency.
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