Countable and uncountable words

Countable and uncountable words

What does countable / uncountable mean?

Nouns are either countable or uncountable:

If a noun is countable we can count it. Countable nouns can be singular or plural.

Examples:
a car, a boy, an egg
two cars, three boys, six eggs

We can say two cars, three boys, six eggs, etc. because we can count them – they’re countable.

If a noun is uncountable we can’t count it.

Examples: water, music, information

We don’t say 2 waters or three musics. We cannot count these words – they’re uncountable.

Uncountable nouns are NEVER plural.

How to tell if a word is countable or uncountable

1. If you can use a number before a noun, it’s countable:

  • egg = countable
    1 egg ⇒ 2 eggs
  • cat = countable
    1 cat ⇒ 2 cats
  • foot = countable
    1 foot ⇒ 2 feet
  • information = uncountable
    1 information, 2 informations

  • music = uncountable
    1 music, 2 musics

2. If you can add ‘s’ or ‘es’ to a noun, it’s countable:

  • chair ⇒ chairs
  • tomato ⇒ tomatoes

Remember – with some countable nouns we do NOT add ‘s’ to form the plural:

  • 1 child ⇒ 2 children
  • 1 woman ⇒ 2 women
  • 1 man ⇒ 2 men
  • 1 mouse ⇒ 2 mice
  • 1 tooth ⇒ 2 teeth
  • 1 foot ⇒ 2 feet

In our vocabulary sections:

10 uncountable nouns: types of material >>

10 uncountable nouns: types of food >>

10 uncountable nouns often confused >>

See also:

8 uncountable nouns and common mistakes learners make when using them >>