One of the most frustrating things for people who are learning English as a second language is determining whether a noun is countable or uncountable. Unfortunately, what seems like an easy distinction has many difficult exceptions. In this article, we have compiled over 100 examples of countable nouns and uncountable nouns, as well as definitions and exercises to help you understand this important grammar concept.
If you don’t know if a noun is countable or uncountable, and it isn’t on our list, feel free to send us a message and ask us. We will try to get back to you as soon as possible. To ask us a question, just click on the image below.
What is a Countable Noun?
Countable nouns are nouns that are distinct and easily countable objects, people, animals, etc.. Common examples of countable nouns are apples, houses, or dogs. If you can ask “How many ____ are there?” then you have a countable noun.
Countable nouns have a singular and plural form.
For example, I have one apple, but he has two apples.
When using countable nouns we may also use articles like “a” or “an” in place of “one.” So instead of saying “I want one cat,” you could say, “I want a cat.”
What is an Uncountable Noun?
An uncountable noun is a noun that you cannot easily count. Instead of being classified by “how many” of it there is, an uncountable noun (or non countable noun) is classified by “how much.” Generally, these are for non-physical things (kinds of emotions), liquids (water), or things that come in such large amounts that we wouldn’t want to count them (sand).
The classic example of an uncountable noun is water. You cannot say “I have one water.” Instead, you would say “I have water” or “I have a cup of water.” As you can see, we can’t count the water, so we either a. Don’t use a number or b. Use a quantifier like “cup”. We cannot count water, but we can count the cups that the water is in.
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Difficult Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Is money countable or uncountable? Is fruit countable or uncountable? Is time countable or uncountable? Lots of people have these kinds of questions. We have made this list of difficult countable and uncountable nouns to help explain the more complicated nouns that we encounter.
You will probably notice that most of this list is food words. When thinking about food, it can be difficult to determine if they are countable or uncountable nouns. When thinking about food, ask yourself these two questions:
- Is it a substance? (meat, sugar, salt)
- Is it generally meant to be cut up and shared by many people? (bread or watermelon)
If so, they are generally uncountable. Another important thing, nouns can be both countable and uncountable. So watermelon, when it is cut up and shared, is uncountable, but whole watermelons are countable.
If there are other nouns that you would like us to help you with, please just leave a comment and we can update the page to help you.
Bread Countable or Uncountable Noun
Bread is uncountable. Most foods that are served to share are considered uncountables. The quantifiers for bread are loaves and slices.
Do you have any bread?
I have some bread.
I have a loaf of bread.
I have four slices of bread.
Time Countable or Uncountable Noun
Time itself is uncountable, but the ways we divide time are countable.
How much time do you have?
I have a lot of time.
She only has a bit of time before work starts.
Time though is usually conceptualized in seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, etc. All of these are countable nouns and should be treated as such.
It is two days from now.
I have a month until school is done.
Fruit Countable or Uncountable Noun
Fruit is generally an uncountable noun.
What kinds of fruit do you have in India?
We have many of kinds of fruit in India.
They like to eat a lot of fruit.
Fruit can sometimes be treated as a countable noun, but this is generally up to a speaker’s preferences.
My favorite fruits are oranges, mangos, and apples. / My favorite kinds of fruit are oranges, mangos, and apples.
When picking a fruit, be careful that you don’t bruise it. / When picking fruit, be careful that you don’t bruise it.
In short, when in doubt just treat fruit as an uncountable noun. However, don’t be surprised to hear others sometimes use it as a countable noun.
Money Countable or Uncountable Noun
Money itself is an uncountable noun. However, units of money (dollars, cents, pounds) are countable.
Do you have any money?
I have lots of money.
She lost all of her money in a robbery.
I have five dollars in my wallet.
John asked me for twenty pounds.
Fish Countable or Uncountable Noun
Fish can be both a countable noun and an uncountable noun. When you are counting individual fish as living things, they are countable. When we are discussing fish as food, we generally treat this as an uncountable noun. To further confuse things, when treated as a countable noun, the plural of fish is still fish.
How many fish do you both have?
I have two fish. She has one fish.
How much fish do you like to eat?
I like to eat a lot of fish. My wife won’t eat any fish.
Food Countable or Uncountable Noun
Food is an uncountable noun. When it comes to individual kinds of foods, some are countable and others are uncountable.
How much food do I need to buy for the party?
I think you will need a lot of food for the party.
Oh no, there isn’t enough food.
Cheese Countable or Uncountable Noun
Cheese is uncountable. The quantifiers we usually use with it are slices, wheels, blocks, or pieces.
How much cheese do you want?
I want two wheels of cheese.
She would like a slice of cheese.
How many pieces of cheese do you have?
We have two kinds of cheese with a total of twenty pieces.
Advice Countable or Uncountable Noun
Advice is an uncountable noun. We usually use the quantifier “a piece of” when talking about advice.
Do you have any advice?
No, I don’t have any advice for you.
Can I offer you a piece of advice?
Cake Countable or Uncountable Noun
Cake can be both a countable and uncountable noun. Generally, we refer to cake as an uncountable noun. However, when discussing multiple whole cakes it becomes countable.
Do you like cake?
Yes, I love cake.
How much cake do you want?
I want a slice of cake.
How many cakes would you like to buy?
I would like to buy three vanilla cakes.
Ice Cream Countable or Uncountable Noun
Most of the time, you will see ice cream treated as an uncountable noun. We usually use tub, scoop, pint, or bowl to quantify ice cream. When we are talking about ice cream as a small snack that you buy in single servings, then we can treat it as a countable noun.
How much ice cream did you eat?
I ate a bowl of ice cream.
How many ice creams would you like?
I would like one ice cream, please.
Towel Countable or Uncountable Noun
Towel is a countable noun. The plural form of towel is towels.
How many towels do you want?
Just one towel, please.
Do you like this towel?
Yes, I love that towel.
Watermelon Countable or Uncountable Noun
Watermelon can be a countable or an uncountable noun. When we are talking about whole watermelons, we treat it as a countable noun. However, most of the time we treat watermelon as an uncountable noun.
How many watermelons do you want to buy?
I want to buy four watermelons.
Do you like watermelon?
I love eating watermelon.
100 Examples of Countable Nouns
This countable nouns list is just to give you a basic sense of what kinds of nouns there are, and which ones are countable. It is in no way exhaustive. So, these 100 examples of countable nouns should be used as a basic reference guide.
- hoses /hoses
100 Examples of Uncountable Nouns
These 100 examples of uncountable nouns can help give you a sense of what nouns are generally considered uncountable. Some of these nouns can be used as countable nouns occasionally, and in these instances, I have noted that beside the list item.
- Youth (can be countable as well)
- Ice Cream
- Cake (can be countable as well)
- Chicken (the food)
- Fish (the food)
- Lamb (the food)
- Salad (can be countable as well)
- Gold (can be countable as well)
- Silver (can be countable as well)
- Bronze (can be countable as well)
- Fur (can be countable as well)
- Baseball (the game)
- Football (the game)
- Basketball (the game)
Uncountable and Countable Nouns Exercise – Common Problems
Now you know what countable and uncountable nouns are, but you still need to practice it. The upside is that any sentence you use in English is going to have your child practicing countable and uncountable nouns.
The best advice I can give to you is to always gently remind your child when they make a mistake. Here are some important things to listen for that can be hard to catch.
Common Problem #1 Articles
Lots of children who are learning English as a second language will drop articles like “a”, “an”, or “the” by mistake. Sentences can start to look like this:
I want cup. —> I want a cup.
Do you have pencil? —> Do you have a pencil?
Common Problem #2 Dropping the “s” on the End of Plurals
Pretty self-explanatory, lots of children will drop the “s” on plural nouns and just use the singular form.
I have three dog. —-> I have three dogs.
I made some cookie. —> I made some cookies.
Common Problem #3 Adding an “s” Where they Don’t Need it
Some children are used to adding an “s” on the end of nouns when it is plural, and make mistakes on uncountable nouns because of it.
May I have some waters? —> May I have some water?
I like breads. —> I like bread.
Why Are They Making Mistakes?
Mostly it is because it takes time to get used to which nouns are uncountable and which are countable. Too many children are taught the general rules of countable and uncountable nouns, then they do countable and uncountable noun worksheets, and then they think they are done.
Kids don’t learn grammar from worksheets. You cannot teach them countable and uncountable nouns from a bunch of worksheets and expect them to remember it.
Instead, sit them down and introduce the difference between countable and uncountable nouns. Play some games to make sure that they understand the general concept. Then, over time, you can keep on reinforcing and correcting them until they do it right every time.
If your child is older, it may be worth looking at more detailed exceptions lists for countable and uncountable nouns, but I still don’t recommend doing worksheets to review those.
Uncountable and Countable Nouns Exercise – Ways to Practice
So worksheets are out. So what do I use? Luckily, countable and uncountable nouns are not difficult concepts. Children will understand quickly. It is more about actively correcting and encouraging good English habits that will make them superstars at getting this right.
The Intro Lesson
To teach an introduction lesson to countable and uncountable nouns, I would start by collecting different things around the house that can represent countable nouns and uncountable nouns.
Once this is done, start with countable nouns. Chances are, your child already understands the concept. Practice the sentence structure:
“How many _____ do you have?”
“I have ___ _____s.”
How many blocks do you have?
I have four blocks.
Practice this for a bit, and then introduce uncountable nouns. I like to use a glass of water. Start with a full glass of water and ask, “How many waters do you have?” They may be confused, or they may answer one. Now drain half of the water and ask again. Then remove all but a little bit of the water, and then ask again.
This little experiment should demonstrate to your child why we have uncountable nouns. Depending on your child’s English level, you may need to use some of their native language to help them understand.
After this, you can model the correct sentence:
Do you have any water?
Yes, I have some water.
No, I don’t have any water.
Now that they have some idea of countable nouns and uncountable nouns, you can begin to practice some target sentences with them. I recommend having the target sentence written up somewhere so that when your child forgets, you can refer back to the board that you have them written on.
Here are some games I would use to review this kind of grammar.
Uncountable and Countable Nouns Exercise #1 Board Games
Using board games is a fun way to have your child practice their English. You can use each round as a chance to have your child practice the target sentences you want them to learn. If you want more detailed instructions and a free board game download, take a look at our post on board games.
Uncountable and Countable Nouns Exercise #2 Read With Your Kids
Books are a great way to learn English because they model perfect English for your child. They can read proper sentences and hear proper sentences. In this environment, they can absorb the good habits needed for strong English skills. This includes a sense for which nouns are countable and which are uncountable.
Uncountable and Countable Nouns Exercise #3 Go Fish
Not so useful for uncountable nouns, but Go Fish is perfect for teaching countable nouns. You can easily work on this fundamental sentence pattern :
“Do you have any ___?”
“Yes, I do.”
“No, I don’t.”
Go Fish is not just a great teaching game, but it’s also lots of fun and easy to play for even younger children.
Uncountable and Countable Nouns Exercise #4 Cooking With Your Kids
So many of our difficult uncountable nouns involve food. When you look at our list of difficult nouns, you will see that many of them are food-related. This makes cooking a great time to naturally review which nouns are countable and which are uncountable. Practice some target sentences like:
Could you pass me two carrots?
Could you pass me some water?
Could you find an egg?
Could you get me some soy sauce?
If you want some ideas on food and food vocabulary, take a look at our posts on vegetable vocabulary and fruit vocabulary. Any food can work, so if you like to cook Mexican food, Indian food, or Italian food, that will help your child learn.
Practicing English does not need to be all about textbooks and worksheets. The best English skills are learned through using the language naturally. Countable and uncountable nouns are part of all English speech. So think about what your child likes to do, and make it an activity you can do in English. If you steadily correct your child’s mistakes, then they will start to get better at this grammar point quicker than you would believe.
It is true when they say that the devil is in the details. Oftentimes, when your child makes a mistake, you’ll be tempted to let it slide as you understand their meaning. Countable and uncountable noun grammar is an easy thing to let slide, but really nailing it can show people that your child is a true, fluent English speaker.
So, don’t let your child get away with sloppy English. Start with some initial teaching, and then consciously correct and guide your child to better English. Give them ample opportunities to practice, and always try to model correct grammar for them to emulate. All of this work will add up. Good habits now means great English later.