Grammar Monster
Grammar Monster

What Are Mass Nouns? (with Examples)

What Are Mass Nouns? (with Examples)

A mass noun (or non-countable noun or noncount noun as it's also known) is a noun without a plural form.

A mass noun is one that cannot be counted. For example:

Mass Noun>Attempt At Making It Plural
petrolfour petrols
furniturefour furnitures
lumberfour lumbers
goldfour golds

Non-countable nouns are singular.

Examples of Mass Nouns

Most mass nouns come under one of these categories:

CategoryExample
Concept gallantry, morality, information, aptitude, patience
Activity homework, singing, reading, fishing
Food bread, butter, cheese, fish, milk
Gas air, helium, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, smoke
Liquid beer, coffee, petrol, water, wine
Material cloth, concrete, lumber, wood, metal
Item Category clothing, furniture, luggage, money
Natural Phenomenon gravity, heat, humidity, rain, snow, sunshine, thunder
Particles flour, grit, salt, sugar

Pluralizing Mass Nouns

There are two methods to pluralize a concept expressed by a mass noun:

Method 1: Precede it with a [countable noun] + "of". For example:
  • four loaves of bread
  • (Loaves is the countable noun.)
  • four blocks of cheese
  • (blocks is the countable noun.)
Method 2: Make the mass noun an adjective to a countable noun. For example:
  • four bread loaves
  • four cheese blocks
Generally, mass nouns cannot be pluralized. However, when talking about categories of that noun, some can be pluralized. This happens most often with mass nouns in the food and liquid categories. For example:
  • France is well known for its cheeses.
  • (Categories of cheese)
  • There are several fine wines from Chile.
  • (Categories of wine)
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Top Tip

Use Amount of with a Mass Noun

Use amount of with a mass noun. The terms quantity of and number of are used with countable nouns. For example:
  • Amount of sunshine
  • Quantity of wood
Read more about using amount of, quantity of, and number of.

Some Adjectives Don't Work with Mass Nouns

The following adjectives cannot precede a mass noun: these, those, each, every, either, and neither.

These adjectives are either for plural nouns or for plural ideas.

Read more about demonstrative adjectives.
Read more about indefinite adjectives.