mardi 16 décembre 2014

Top Tips Grammar: Uncount nouns

Main points

*Uncount nouns have only one form, and take a singular verb.
*They are not used with ‘a’, or with numbers.
*Some nouns can be both uncount nouns and count nouns.

 

a) English speakers think that some things cannot be counted directly. The nouns which refer to these uncountable thing are called nouns. Uncount nouns often refer to:

Substances : coal, food, ice, iron, rice, steel, water
Human qualities : courage, cruelty, honestly, patience
Feelings : anger, happiness, joy, pride, relief, respect
Activities : aid, help, sleep, travel, work
Abstract ideas : beauty, death. freedom, fun, life, luck

- The donkey needed food and water.
- Soon, they lost patience and sent me to Durban.
- I was greeted with shouts of joy.
- All prices include travel to and from London.
- We talked for hours about freedom.

 

b) Uncount nouns have only one form. They do not have a plural form.

- I needed help with my homework.
- The children had great fun playing with the puppets.

Remember that some nouns which are uncount nouns in English have plurals in other languages.

advice furniture knowledge money
baggage homework luggage news
equipment information machinery traffic

- We want to spend more money on roads.
- Soldiers carried so much equipment that they were barely able to move.

 

c) Some uncount nouns end in ‘-s’ and therefore look like plural count nouns. They usually refer to:

Subjects of study : mathematics, physics.
Activities : athletics, gymnastics
Games : cards, darts.
Illnesses : meales, mumps.

- Mathematics is too difficult for me.
- Measles is in most cases a harmless illness.

 

d) When an uncount noun is the subject of a verb, it takes a singular verb.

- Electricity is dangerous.
- Food was very expensive in those days.

 

e) Uncount nouns are not used with ‘a’.

- They resent having to pay money to people like me.
- My father started work when he was ten.

Uncount nouns are used with ‘the’ when they refer to something that is specified or known.

- I am interested in the education of young children.
- She buried the money that Hilary had given her.

 

f) Uncount nouns are not used with numbers. However, you can often refer to a quantity of something which is expressed by an uncount noun, by using a word like ‘some’

- Please buy some bread when you go to town.
- Let me give you some advice.

Some uncount nouns that refer to food or drink can be count nouns when they refer to quantities of the food or drink.

- Do you like coffee? (uncount)
- We asked for two coffees. (count)

Uncount nouns are often used with expressions such as ‘a loaf of’, ‘packets of’, or ‘a piece of’, to talk about a quantity or an item. ‘A bit of’ is common in spoken English.

- I bought two loaves of bread yesterday.
- He gave me a very good piece of advice.
- They own a bit of land near Pucallpa.

 

g) Some nouns are uncount nouns when they refer to something in general and count nouns when they refer to a particular instance of something.

- Victory was now assured. (uncount)
- In 1960, the party won a convincing victory. (count)

 

 

 

 

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Top Tips Abz Ingles: Part A    -    Part B
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See also:

Words related to Failure to Cooperate Irregular Verbs list
Common Phrasal Verbs Common Slangs
Common misspellings Regular vs Irregular Verbs
Common Errors Frequently confused words
Common Slangs Lista de Términos Gramaticales
Common Clichés Common Prepositions

 

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