What Are Non-countable (Noncount) Nouns? (with Examples)

by Craig Shrives

Non-countable (Noncount) Nouns

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

Non-countable nouns refer to things that cannot be counted.

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
furniturefive furnitures
tennisfive tennises
mercuryfive mercuries

Non-countable nouns are singular.

Examples of Non-countable (Noncount) Nouns

Non-countable nouns usually fall into one of the following categories:
CategoryExample
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 Contrast with 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)

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Why Should I Care about Non-countable Nouns?

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
  • Quantity of wood
Read more about using "amount of," "quantity of," and "number of."

Read more issues associated with countable and non-countable nouns on the countable nouns page.
Interactive Exercise
Here are three randomly selected questions from a larger exercise, which can be edited, printed to create an exercise worksheet, or sent via email to friends or students.

See Also

Take a test on non-countable nouns Read more about amount of, quantity of, and number of What are nouns? What are the different types of nouns What are abstract nouns? What are collective nouns? What are compound nouns? What are concrete nouns? What are gender-specific nouns What are gerunds? What are verbal nouns? What are noun clauses? What are noun phrases?