Count nouns are things we can count. They can be used in both singular and plural forms. Most countable nouns are made plural by adding -s or -es. Note that the ending
-y changes to -ies when -y is preceded by a consonant.
Examples: one computer, two computers, three computers
an eyelash, ten eyelashes
a party, two parties
Some count nouns do not use -s to form the plural:
Examples: one child, two children
one tooth, ten teeth
one deer, ten deer (deer is a count noun that can be used for both
singular and plural forms.)
Use many, few, a few, each, every, and several with count nouns in plural form:
Examples: many chairs, few chairs, a few chairs, each chair, every chair,
NOTE: A count noun always requires an article (a, an or the) in English.
Noncount nouns, or mass nouns, are things that can’t be counted, such as happiness, furniture, or milk. They cannot be made plural.
Examples: Happiness is often elusive for some people.
Her grandmother’s furniture is very old.
Milk provides a significant amount of calcium.
Some words of quantity (such as a little or much) are used only with noncount nouns.
Expressions such as a great deal of, much, a little, little and less are also used only with noncount nouns.
Examples: I hope you don’t have too much homework over the weekend.
A little milk is good for you.
I wish him a great deal of happiness.
furniture, jewelry, luggage, makeup, traffic, money/change/cash, scenery
water, coffee, milk, blood
oxygen, nitrogen, steam, air
bread, cheese, butter, ice, iron, silver, glass
rice, chalk, pepper, flour, salt, sugar
knowledge, beauty, anger, fear, love, information, news, space, energy,
studying, drawing, swimming
Chinese, English, Spanish, Arabic
biology, chemistry, engineering, history
football, tennis, chess, poker
rain, sunshine, fog, hail, snow, thunder, heat
(Azar, 1999, Understanding and Using English Grammar)
Many nouns in English can be used as both count and noncount nouns. Often, however, there is a difference in meaning.
Examples: I bought a paper. (a newspaper - countable)
I bought some paper. (material for writing on - uncountable)
There is a hair in my soup! (one single hair - countable)
She has beautiful hair. (hair on her head - uncountable)