Noncountable Nouns – Definition & Examples

13.03.23 Language rules Time to read: 4min

How do you like this article?

0 Reviews


Noncountable-Nouns-01

Noncountable nouns, often referred to as mass or uncountable nouns, play a pivotal role in language rules. Unlike countable nouns, they don’t typically have a plural form and can’t be quantified directly with numbers. Using noncountable nouns correctly is essential when writing essays for college or university. In this article, you’ll learn what noncountable nouns are and how to use them.

Noncountable Nouns – In a Nutshell

  • Nouncountable nouns can’t be counted.
  • These nouns are almost always used in plural.
  • You can use countable units with noncountable nouns.
  • Never use the indefinite article with noncountable nouns.

Definition: Noncountable nouns

In English language, noncountable nouns are a grammatical category used to describe items that cannot be counted separately or individually. These nouns refer to things that can only be counted or thought of as “wholes”.

By contrast, countable nouns refer to items that can be counted individually or separately. The difference between both can be seen in the examples below.

Type of noun Examples
Uncountable Money we can count currencies, but
not money. We can’t say “one money,
two moneys, etc.
Uncountable Advice we can’t say “one advice, two
advices, etc.
Countable Computer one computer, two computers,
some computers, etc.
Countable Job one job, two jobs, three jobs,
any jobs, etc.
Conduct a final format revision for a print of your thesis
Before submitting your thesis for print, check on your formatting with our 3D preview function for a final time. It provides an exact virtual visualization of what the printed version will resemble, making sure the physical version meets your expectations.

Countable nouns vs. Noncountable nouns

In English grammar, some nouns are always countable, others are always noncountable, and others can autumn into both categories (countable and noncountable).

In the latter category, it can sometimes be difficult to know when a noun is countable and when it’s noncountable. In such cases, the context determines whether a noun is countable or uncountable, as shown in the table below.

Noun Type of noun Examples
Experience Uncountable when the context refers I have experience in marketing.
to accumulated knowledge
Experience Countable when the context refers to I’ve had happy
individual events or incidents.
experiences here
Chicken Uncountable when the context refers I like chicken
to chicken in general
Chicken Countable when the context refers
to specific animals.
We raised two chickens.

Are noncountable nouns singular or plural?

Noncountable nouns are almost always singular, since they cannot be counted and therefore their number doesn’t affect their plural form.

To be grammatically correct, you must use the singular verb form to accompany noncountable nouns. This will ensure that the subject-verb agreement is respected.

Example

The weathers have been hot every day this week.

The weather has been hot every day this week.

Example

Musics from different countries are interesting.

Music from different countries is interesting.

Articles and noncountable nouns

Noncountable nouns can only be used with two types of articles:

– The definite article (“the”).

– The zero article, which isn’t an article in itself, but instead refers to situations where no article is required.


The indefinite article (“a” / “an”) is never used with noncountable nouns.

Examples

A news caught me by surprise.

The news caught me by surprise.

He had good news.

Examples

A new furniture was expensive.

The new furniture was expensive.

We need new furniture.

Examples

We will order a rice.

We will order rice.

We prefer rice.

Amounts and numbers

Sometimes, noncountable nouns are broken into countable units. This helps bring clarity and specificity to the sentence.

Noncountable noun Example
Water One bottle of water (“bottle off” is the countable unit)
Furniture A new piece of furniture (“piece of” is the countable unit)
Milk Two litres of milk (“two litres” is the countable unit)

Some commonly used terms, such “a lot” and “lots of”, can be used with both countable and noncountable nouns.

Type of noun Example
Countable I have lots of dollars in my wallet.
Noncountable I have a lot of money in my wallet.

On the other hand, some terms can only be used with countable or noncountable nouns. These include less vs. fewer, much vs. many, and amount vs. number.

Noun Type of noun Example
Cats Countable There are fewer cats here today.
Information Noncountable They gave less information than expected.
House Countable Many houses are built this way.
Traffic Noncountable There isn’t much traffic at night.
Question Countable I have a number of questions.
Rain Noncountable It’s a large amount of rain.

Noncountable nouns: “Research” & “data”

The words “research” and “data” are noncountable noun, but their use use can be especially difficult in academic writing. This is due to some confusion in how these nouns are used.

For example, the word “research” is sometimes pluralised as “researches”. Although the term “researches” exists, it doesn’t indicate plural form, but rather it’s the third person singular conjugation of the verb “to research” (he/she/it researches).

Similarly, the word “data” can cause confusion as to whether it’s singular or plural. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to bear mind:

– Do use “research” always in its singular form, with a verb in singular

We carried out researches and found …

We carried out research / multiple pieces of research and found …

 

More researches are needed in this area.

More research is needed in this area.

– Do use the singular or plural verb form with the word “data”.

Data was analysed in the lab.

Data were analysed in the lab.

– Don’t use “data” in plural.

The datas show …

Data shows …

Is it time to print your thesis?
The printing services at BachelorPrint are designed to meet the needs of students in Canada. We offer student-friendly prices for printing and binding your thesis, starting at just CAN$ 11.90. Complement this with our FREE express shipping and you’re all set!

FAQs

Countable nouns refer to items that can be counted separately, whereas noncountable nouns can’t be counted individually.

No, only the definite or the zero articles are grammatically correct. It’s incorrect to use “a” and “an” with noncountable nouns.

Some nouns can be used in both ways. The context will determine whether a noun can be countable or noncountable.

The singular form, with the exception of the noun “data”, which can also be used with a plural verb form.