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Writing Style

Count and Non-Count Nouns (cou)

Nouns are the names we give to people, places, concepts, and things. Nouns are divided into the categories of "count" and "non-count" because some nouns represent things that can be counted and other nouns represent things that we cannot count. 

For example, "nurses" can be counted as we can have one or more nurses working in the hospital. However, we cannot count a concept such as "health," so this noun is a non-count noun.

Knowing whether a noun is countable or non-countable helps with two important grammatical points: (a) singular or plural endings for the noun and (b) article or determiner used for the noun.

Count Nouns: A noun you can put a number in front of and put s, es, or ies ending.

Rule 1: Some or any can be used with count nouns.

Example: The doctor has some patients waiting for him. Have you got any nurses available?

Rule 2: A few or many can be used with count nouns.

Example: We had a few patients in emergency today. How many patients were there?

Non-Count Nouns: Nouns that we cannot count are considered singular, so we cannot make them plural.

Some examples of non-count nouns are: air, homework, research, environment, happiness, and information.


You cannot use articles (a, an and the) with non-count nouns.

Rule 3: Some or any can be used with non-count nouns.

Examples: The nurse gave some medicine to him earlier today.

                  You have not got any oxygen left in the tank. 

Rule 4: A little or much can be used with non-count nouns.

Examples: I have just a little money left in my wallet.

                  How much oxygen is left in his tank.

More Information

"Articles" with non-count nouns.

"Count and Non-Count Nouns," Capital Community College Foundation

"The Count Noun," Robin L. Simmons.

 "The Noncount Noun," Robin L. Simmons.