What is the difference between countable and uncountable nouns

The distinction between these two types of nouns is very important in English and understanding this will help you to use articles more accurately. Most nouns are either countable or uncountable, while some can be either, depending on the meaning or the context.

Countable nouns are things we can count. We use them with the indefinite article a / an, and we can make them plural.

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Uncountable nouns are things we cannot count. They include many abstract nouns that you may use frequently in scientific writing. They have no plural form and cannot be used with the indefinite article a / an. When you want to itemise these nouns, you have to add a phrase like a piece of ...

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The use of articles with countable and uncountable nouns is as follows:



countable - singular

I've got a new job

The job is interesting

countable - plural

They've got new jobs

The jobs are interesting


I've got work now

The work is interesting

Some words which are basically uncountable nouns can also be used as countable nouns with a somewhat different meaning, and this applies to many words in scientific and technical English.

■ As uncountable nouns, they refer to something general, e.g.

metal, fuel, material, mass, velocity, pressure, power, water, analysis, science, sound, temperature ■ As countable nouns, they refer to something more specific, one or more of a set, e.g.

a soft metal a carbonated water a velocity of 25 m. per second an analysis of this problem

Example sentences. Note that the countable version of the noun is used when it is defined in some way, either by an adjective or an of phrase.



A thermometer measures temperature. Temperature is generally expressed in degrees.

The thermometer showed a temperature of over 50°C.

The boy had a high temperature.

This factory produces steel.

Cheaper mild steels are now being produced.

Water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen.

A water molecule is composed of two hydrogens and on oxygen.

This problem is beyond human understanding.

A clear understanding of the practical implications lies at the heart of successful flow modelling.

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  • saul
    Is thermometer countable?
    6 years ago
  • bildad lightfoot
    Is temperature uncountable?
    6 years ago
  • prisca
    Is the word branch countable or uncountable?
    5 years ago
  • daniel
    What are the differences between countable abstract noun and uncountable abstract noun?
    5 years ago
  • Berilac Goold
    Is thermometor considered as a countable nouns?
    4 years ago
  • frazer
    Is laboratory an uncountable and abstract noun?
    2 years ago

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