#EngClass: Non-count nouns

In this article, we will learn about non-count nouns. Most non-count nouns refer to a ‘whole’ that is made up of different parts.

Many nouns can be used as either non-count or count nouns, but the meaning is different. Examples:

  • Non-count: Anna has brown hair.
  • Count: Tim has a hair on his jacket.

To express a particular quantity, some non-count nouns may be preceded by unit expressions. For example:

  • a spoonful of sugar,
  • a glass of water,
  • a cup of coffee,
  • a quart of milk,
  • a loaf of bread,
  • a grain of rice,
  • a bowl of soup,
  • a bag of flour,
  • a pound of meat,
  • a piece of furniture,
  • a piece of paper,
  • a piece of jewelry.

The following are typical of nouns which are commonly used as non-count nouns:

  1. Whole groups made up of similar items:
    • baggage, clothing, equipment, food, fruit, furniture, garbage, hardware, jewelry, junk, luggage, machinery, mail, makeup, money/cash/change, postage, scenery, traffic, etc.
  2. Fluids:
    • water, coffee, tea, milk, oil, soup, gasoline, blood, etc.
  3. Solids:
    • ice, bread, butter, cheese, meat, gold, iron, silver, glass, paper, wood, cotton, wool, etc.
  4. Gases:
    • steam, air, oxygen, nitrogen, smog, smoke, pollution, etc.
  5. Particles:
    • rice, chalk, corn, dirt, dust, flour, grass, hair, pepper, salt, sand, sugar, wheat, etc.
  6. Abstractions:
    • beauty, confidence, courage, education, enjoyment, fun, happiness, health, advice, information, news, time, space, energy, homework, work, grammar, vocabulary, etc.
  7. Languages:
    • Arabic, Chinese, English, Spanish, etc.
  8. Fields of study:
    • chemistry, engineering, history, literature, mathematics, psychology, dentistry, etc.
  9. General activities:
    • driving, studying, swimming, traveling, walking, etc.
  10. Recreation:
    • baseball, soccer, tennis, chess, poker, etc.
  11. Natural phenomena:
    • weather, dew, fog, hail, heat, humidity, lightning, rain, sleet, snow, thunder, wind, darkness, light, sunshine, electricity, fire, gravity, etc.


Should you have any comment or question regarding this topic, feel free to leave a message in the comment box down below.

Compiled and written by @sherlydarmali for @EnglishTips4U on Sunday, December 4,  2016


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