Non-countable (Noncount) Nouns

What Are Non-countable (Noncount) Nouns?

A non-countable noun (or mass noun as it's also known) is a noun without a plural form. Put another way, non-countable nouns refer to things that cannot be counted.

Table of Contents

  • Examples of Non-Countable Nouns
  • Common Categories for Non-countable (Noncount) Nouns
  • Non-countable Nouns vs Countable Nouns
  • Some Nouns Can Be Countable or Non-countable
  • Why Non-countable Nouns Are Important
  • Test Time!
non-countable nouns examples

Examples of Non-Countable Nouns

Here are some examples of non-countable nouns:
Non-countable NounAn Attempt At Making It Plural
musicfive musics wrong cross
furniturefive furnitures wrong cross
tennisfive tennises wrong cross
mercuryfive mercuries wrong cross
Non-countable nouns are singular.

Common Categories for Non-countable (Noncount) Nouns

Non-countable nouns usually fall into one of the following categories:
Concept bravery, honesty, information, intelligence, patience
Activity homework, playing, reading, sleeping
Food bread, butter, cheese, fish, milk
Gas air, helium, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, smoke
Liquid coffee, petrol, water, wine, beer
Material chalk, cloth, concrete, lumber, wood, metal
Item Category clothing, furniture, luggage, mail, money, software
Natural Phenomenon gravity, heat, humidity, rain, snow, sunshine, thunder
Particles dust, flour, rice, salt, sugar

Non-countable Nouns vs Countable Nouns

Non-countable nouns contrast with countable nouns, which can be pluralized. Here are some examples of countable nouns:
  • apple, bear, cup, dog, ear, flower, giant, house, island
  • (Note that these all have plural forms, e.g., "apples," "bears," "cups.")
Read more about the term "plural." Read more about forming plurals.

Some Nouns Can Be Countable or Non-countable

Generally, non-countable nouns cannot be pluralized. However, some can be pluralized when talking about categories of that noun. This is most common with non-countable nouns in the food and liquid categories. For example:
  • France is famous for its cheeses.
  • (Categories of cheese)
  • There are many fine wines from Chile.
  • (Categories of wine)


Why Non-countable Nouns Are Important

Here are two noteworthy issues associated with non-countable nouns.

(Issue 1) Making Non-countable Nouns Plural

There are two methods to pluralize a concept expressed by a non-countable noun:

Method 1: Precede it with a [countable noun] + "of."

For example:
  • five loaves of bread
  • ("Loaves" is the countable noun.)
  • five blocks of cheese
  • ("Blocks" is the countable noun.)
Method 2: Make the non-countable noun an adjective to a countable noun.

For example:
  • five bread loaves
  • five cheese blocks

(Issue 2) Using the Right Quantifier with a Non-Countable Noun

Use "amount of" with a non-countable noun. The terms "quantity of" and "number of" are used with countable nouns. For example:
  • Amount of sunshine correct tick
  • Quantity of wood wrong cross
Read more about using "amount of," "quantity of," and "number of."

Key Point

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This page was written by Craig Shrives.