Countable English Nouns | Fix Common Grammar Mistakes & Errors

Lesson Overview

There are two types of nouns – countable and uncountable. Knowing the difference between them and how you can use these types of nouns is really important! It affects how you use:
articles (a/an/the)
– much/many
– a little/a few

Learning and understanding how countable and uncountable nouns are used differently in English will certainly improve your grammar!

Video Transcript

Hello I’m Emma from mmmEnglish!

Now, you might already know that there are two types of English nouns, countable and uncountable nouns. Knowing the difference between these nouns is really important and I can tell you right now that so many of the English grammar mistakes that you’re making are to do with these different types of nouns.

They affect the way that you use other words in English, words like articles and much and many, some and any, a little, a few!

Learning how to use uncountable and countable nouns with these words will really, dramatically improve your English grammar. In this video, I’m going to focus on countable nouns but I’ve made another lesson that’s all about uncountable nouns. You can check it out up there or you can wait to the end of this lesson and I’ll link to it there.

Okay! Some nouns are countable which means really simply, you can count them. You can say that there are three, give or ten of these different nouns.

For example, this is an apple and I’ve got three apples here. They have singular and plural forms. Countable nouns have singular and plural forms, which means that you can use the articles ‘a’ or ‘an’ with the singular form of these nouns.

  • a lemon
  • an apple
  • a glass

Okay, so I said an apple and a lemon there, didn’t I?

So, what’s the difference?

Well, ‘a‘ or ‘an’ is just like saying that there is one of something, so it’s used with a singular noun, never in the plural form. We use ‘a‘ in front of a noun that starts with a consonant sound.

  • a banana
  • a cup
  • a plate
  • a potato
  • a lemon

We use ‘an’ in front of a noun that starts with a vowel, a vowel sound, like an apple or an orange or an hour.

Now, hour‘s a little tricky. It starts with a consonant and actually it starts with a vowel sound. So, we’re talking about letters or sounds. This word starts with a consonant letter but the first sound that you hear when it’s pronounced is a vowel sound: ow, ow, hour. Not ‘hhhour’.

So, because it starts with a vowel sound, you need to use the article ‘an’.

So, what about plural countable nouns? When you have a plural countable noun, you can use the word ‘some’ if you’re not being specific, you don’t know exactly how much or you don’t want to say exactly how much, use ‘some’. Or, you can use the number and be exact.

You can say ‘some potatoes’ or ‘two forks’ or ‘three glasses’. Most English nouns are countable, but there are so many nouns outside the kitchen, right? Like day and week and hour, minute, task, appointment, activity.

So, let’s recap on countable nouns.

  • They can be singular or plural.
  • You can use the articles ‘a’ and ‘an’ when talking about these nouns, when they’re singular.
  • You can use ‘some’ with plural nouns when you don’t want to be specific.
  • Or, you can just use the number to say exactly how many!

Like I said, the majority of English nouns are countable nouns and the way to find out is to check your dictionary. Every dictionary will say whether the noun is countable or uncountable. You’ll see a little [u] or a little [c] next to the noun and it’s really important that you get into the habit of using these nouns correctly. They are treated very differently in English sentences.

Remember that the words you can use with them are quite different. And this is how so many English mistakes are made, particularly with grammar! So, you really must start paying attention to the type of noun that you’re using and how it affects the other words in your sentences.

Now, I’ve created a cheat sheet to help you practise and study these differences between countable and uncountable nouns and how to use them effectively. You can download it right here.

I hope that you enjoyed this lesson and that you learnt a few things about countable nouns. Don’t forget that you can watch the other lesson that’s about uncountable nouns, right here.

And of course make sure that you subscribe so that you find out whenever I release a new lesson to help you with your English grammar, your English speaking skills, your confidence in English. All of these things, I make lessons about. You can check out some of those on this playlist, right here.

That’s it for today but I’m so pleased that you could join me. Bye for now!

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