Count and Non-Count Nouns

A count noun is one that can be counted.

  • book—one book, two books, three books,…
  • student—one student, two students, three students, …
  • person—one person, two persons, three persons, …

A noun-count is one that cannot be counted.

  • milk—you cannot say one milk, two milks, …

It is possible, however, to count some noun-count nouns if the substance is placed in a countable container.

  • glass of milk—one glass of milk, two glasses of milk, …

some determiners can be used only with count or non-count nouns, while others can be used with either. Memorized the words in the following chart.



a(n), the, some, any

the, some, any

this, that, these, those

this, that

none, one, two, three, …



much (usually in negatives or questions)

a lot of

a lot of

a {(large | great)} number of

a large amount of

(a) few

(a) little

fewer … than

less … than

more … than

more … than

It is very important to know if a noun is count or noun-count. Be sure that you know the plurals of irregular count nouns. The following list contains some irregular count nouns that you should know.

      person-people          child-children               tooth-teeth

      foot-feet                   mouse-mice                 man-men


The following list contains some non-count or non-count nouns that you should know.

        sand         soap               physics           mathematics

        news        mumps           air                   politics

        measles    information    meat               homework

        food          economics     advertising      money

*Note: Although advertising is a non-count noun, advertisement is a count noun. If you wish to speak of one particular advertisement, you must use this word.

  • There are too many advertisements during television shows.
  • There is too much advertising during television shows.

Some non-count nouns, such as food, meat, money, and sand, may be used as count nouns in order to indicate different types.

  • This is one of the foods that my doctor has forbidden me to eat. (indicates a particular type of food)
  • He studies meats. (for example, beef, pork, lamb, etc.)

The word time can be either countable or non-countable depending on the context. When it means an occasion, it is countable. When it means a number of hours, days, years, etc., it is non-countable.

  • We have spent too much time on this work. (non-count)
  • She has been late for class six times this semester. (count)

To decide if a noun that you are not sure of is countable or non-countable, decide if you can say: one _________ or a ___________. For example, you can say “one book”, so it is a count noun. You cannot say “one money”, so it is not a count noun. Also of course, by the very nature of non-count nouns, a non-count noun never be plural. Remember that, while some of the nouns in the list of noun-count nouns appear to be plural because they end in –s, they are actually not plural.


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