Countable and Uncountable Nouns - Part 3: Nouns Which Are Both Countable And Non-Countable

grammar Jul 06, 2021

Nouns In English

In the last lesson, we looked at the various kinds of countable nouns and their spelling rules. In this English lesson today, we will look at nouns which are used in both countable and non-countable ways. Yes! The same word with the same spelling can be used as a countable or non-countable noun.

Cake / Pizza / Pie: these are countable when we talk about the whole thing:

  1. The bakery sells 50 cakes a day.
  2. I ordered 10 pizzas for the office party.
  3. We made a few pies for Christmas dinner.

Cake / Pizza / Pie: these are not countable when we talk about pieces from the whole thing:

  1. I had a piece of cake and a cup of coffee for dessert.
  2. I was so hungry that I ate four slices of pizza.
  3. Would you like a piece of pie?

Chicken / fish: these are countable when we talk about the animal:

  1. My grandmother has a few chickens in her backyard.
  2. At the farm, the kids saw chickens and ducks.

Chicken / fish: these are not countable when we talk about the meat

  1. They served chicken and hotdogs at the barbecue.
  2. I eat fish twice a week.

Paper: this is not countable when it means the material or paper in general.

  1. The window shade is made of paper.
  2. We don’t use that much paper these days because of the email.

Paper: this is countable when it means newspaper or report.

  1. My mother reads the papers everyday.
  2. I had to write several papers for my professor in college.

Hair: this is not countable when it means what is on your head.

  1. She has blond hair and blue eyes.
  2. That kind of dog has a lot of hair.

Hair: this is countable when we can see separate pieces of hair

  1. Why do you have a blond hair on your sweater?
  2. Waiter! There are two hairs in my soup.

Room: this is countable when you talk about the different parts in a house

  1. The boss lives in a big house with 10 rooms.
  2. She has two empty rooms in her house.

Room: this is not countable when it means the space around you

  1. He has a very small compact car and it doesn’t have much room inside.
  2. Economy seats on that airplane don’t have a lot of room.

Water / Coffee / Tea: These are not countable when we talk about them in general

  1. I drink a lot of water when I exercise
  2. My doctor told me to stop drinking coffee

Water / Coffee / Tea: these are countable when we talk about specific drinks

  1. I asked the waiter to bring two coffees and a tea for desert.
  2. Can we have three waters?

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