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Count and Noncount Nouns: Basic Rules

Summary:

This handout discusses the differences between count nouns and noncount nouns. Count nouns can be pluralized; noncount nouns cannot.

Contributors:Paul Lynch, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2012-06-08 08:22:39

Adjectives with Countable and Uncountable Nouns

The Basic Rules: Count and Noncount Nouns

A count noun is one that can be expressed in plural form, usually with an "s." For example, "cat—cats," "season—seasons," "student—students."

A noncount noun is one that usually cannot be expressed in a plural form. For example, "milk," "water," "air," "money," "food." Usually, you can't say, "He had many moneys."

Count and Noncount Nouns with Adjectives

Most of the time, this doesn't matter with adjectives. For example, you can say, "The cat was gray" or "The air was gray." However, the difference between a countable and uncountable noun does matter with certain adjectives, such as "some/any," "much/many," and "little/few."

Some/Any: Some and any countable and uncountable nouns.

Much/Many: Much modifies only uncountable nouns. Many modifies only countable nouns.

Little/Few: Little modifies only uncountable nouns.

Few modifies only countable nouns.

Other basic rules

A lot of/lots of: A lot of/lots of are informal substitutes for much and many. They are used with uncountable nouns when they mean much and with countable nouns when they mean many.

A little bit of:A little bit of is informal and always precedes an uncountable noun.

Enough: Enough modifies both countable and uncountable nouns.

Plenty of: Plenty of modifies both countable and uncountable nouns.

No: No modifies both countable and uncountable nouns.

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