What Are Mass Nouns? (with Examples)
Mass NounsA 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:
Examples of Mass NounsHere are some examples of mass nouns:
|Mass Noun||Attempt At Making It Plural|
Mass nouns are singular.
More Examples of Mass NounsNon-countable nouns usually fall into one of the following categories:
|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|
Mass Nouns Contrast with Countable NounsMass nouns contrast with countable nouns, which can be pluralized. Here are some examples of countable nouns:
- ant, beaver, cat, dodo, earwig, fence, gannet, horse, inkwell (Note that these all have plural forms, e.g., "ants," "beavers," "cats.")
Read more about the term "plural" and forming plurals.
Some Nouns Can Be Countable or Non-countableAs a general rule, mass nouns cannot be pluralized. However, some can be pluralized when talking about categories of that noun (e.g., varieties or measures of the noun). This is most common with mass nouns in the food and liquid categories. For example:
- Israel is famous for its baby cheeses. (Varieties of cheese)
- Chili is well known for its many fine wines. (Varieties of wine)
- Can I have four coffees? (Measures of coffee)
Why Should I Care about Mass Nouns?Here are two noteworthy points related to mass nouns.
(Point 1) Making Mass Nouns PluralHere are two methods to pluralize a concept expressed by a mass noun:
Method 1: Precede it with a [countable noun] + "of."
- three loaves of bread ("Loaves" is the countable noun.)
- six pieces of gold ("Pieces" is the countable noun.)
- three bread loaves
- six gold pieces
(Issue 2) Using the Right Quantifier with a Mass NounUse "amount of" with a mass noun. The terms "quantity of" and "number of" are used with countable nouns. For example:
- Amount of patience
- Quantity of lumber
Read more about countable nouns.