top of page

Learn How to Use Uncountable Nouns Correctly

Uncountable nouns are an important part of English but often misunderstood by English learners. This lesson will help you learn uncountable nouns to understand them better and will also tell you which common words are uncountable.

The word "uncountable nouns" means nouns that do not have units of 1, 2, 3, etc., which means you cannot count them. There is only one way to express them and they are not singular or plural. For example, the uncountable noun "money" cannot be described in singular "a money" or plural "moneys" - it can only be expressed one way - "money".

There are many uncountable nouns that English learners know well because they are liquid, small, or invisible. Examples of these types of uncountable nouns are water (liquid), sand (small things), and energy (invisible). However, there are some uncountable nouns that are harder to identify because they seem like they could be countable but they are not.

The uncountable nouns in this lesson are words that represent many things together and therefore we don't count them as units of 1, 2, 3 etc. For example, the noun "information" is uncountable because when you talk about information, we assume that you are not talking about just one detail or fact, but many details/facts, so the word "information" represents this concept of many details or facts together.

If you want to express just one point, you can use the countable noun "detail" or "fact":

  • It's an important detail to remember

  • It's an important fact to remember

On the other hand, it's incorrect to say: "It's an important information". Instead, you have to remove "an" because "a/an" means "one", and you cannot have one unit of information. The correct sentence is:

  • It's important information to remember

When you say the sentence above, we assume that you are talking about more than just one detail or fact because the purpose of the word "information" is to represent many details/facts.

information

We don't make uncountable nouns singular or plural because they don't change meaning from 1 to 2 or more. On the other hand, with a countable noun like "detail" you can have one (a detail) or many (details). Note that you can add "s" to countable nouns to make them plural but not uncountable nouns:

  • details (correct)

  • facts (correct)

  • informations (incorrect)

If you are not sure whether a word is countable or uncountable, an English dictionary will often inform you of this when you find the definition of the word. If you know that a word is uncountable, such as "information", there are rules about which words you can use with uncountable nouns and which words you cannot use.

Words that uncountable nouns can use:

  • Is/Was (singular verb): Information is power

  • There is/was: There is information on the website

  • No (zero): No information was given

  • Little (not much): Little information was given

  • A little (some): I received a little information about it

  • Some: There is some information available

  • Much: There isn't much new information

  • A lot of / Lots of: She gave us lots of information

  • Any: Do you have any information to share?

  • Less: They gave me less information than I expected

  • Other: Is there other information that we can get?

  • This/That: Thank you for this information

  • The amount of: The amount of vocabulary that he knows is impressive!

On the other hand, words that can only be used with countable nouns (not uncountable nouns) include many, few, a few, fewer, another, are/were, and these/those. Therefore, as an example, you can say "many details", "few details" and "these details", but you cannot say "many information", "few information", or "these information".

Table of Uncountable Nouns and their Related Countable Nouns

Uncountable Noun (ex. I don't have much...)

Countable Nouns (ex. I don't have many...)

Furniture

chairs, tables, sofas, lamps, etc.

Information

facts, details

Equipment

machines, tools

Advice

suggestions, recommendations, tips

Work

jobs, tasks, projects, assignments

Research

studies, investigations

Feedback

comments, reviews

Stuff

things, items

Luggage / Baggage

bags, suitcases, backpacks, purses

Jewelry

rings, earrings, necklaces, bracelets

Vocabulary

words, terms, nouns, verbs, phrases, expressions

Gossip

stories, tales, rumors

News

stories, reports

Training

seminars, workshops, courses

Did you find this lesson helpful? Would you benefit from more grammar lessons like this to significantly improve your English? My book "Grammar Essentials" teaches you the 50 most important grammar lessons like all of the tenses, prepositions, modals, conditionals, adjective clauses and noun clauses!



Practice

Part 1: For each set of 3 underlined words below, only one of them is uncountable. Use the language and grammar related to each noun to help you determine which one is uncountable.

  1. We did another study / We did an investigation/ We did research

  2. He didn't share many details / He didn't share facts/ He didn't share much information

  3. We have few machines / We have little equipment / We have many tools

  4. I have too much work/ I have too many jobs / I have a lot of tasks

  5. These tips will help me / Those suggestions will help me / That advice will help me

  6. I got a lot of feedback / I got many comments / I got a few reviews

  7. Few suitcases were lost / No luggage was lost / Another bag was lost

  8. There is training / There is a workshop / There is a course

  9. I need another chair / I need a few tables / I need other furniture

  10. Her jewelry is pretty / Her earrings are pretty / Her necklaces are pretty

  11. I have fewer things now / I have less stuff now / I have several belongings now

  12. I don't know many words / I don't know much vocabulary/ I don't know any phrases

  13. I heard a little gossip/ I heard many rumors / I heard a few tales

  14. There was no news / There was a story / There are many reports

Part 2: For the sentences below, choose the correct word to go with the underlined uncountable noun.

  1. I heard gossip/gossips/a gossip.

  2. I have too many/much work.

  3. The equipment is/are broken.

  4. Can I get a little/a few advice from you?

  5. There is/are no information available.

  6. We've received many/a lot of feedback.

  7. I packed less/fewer stuff for this trip than last time.

  8. We've heard few/little news about the situation.

  9. The amount of/The number of furniture in the house makes it look crowded.

  10. Can you help me with these/this luggage?

Answers

First of all, note that in all of the answers below, the uncountable noun doesn't have "s" on the end, because uncountable nouns cannot be plural. If the other options had "s" on the end, then they must be countable (the only exception to this is "news" which is uncountable and always has "s").

Beside each answer is the reason that you can identify it as an uncountable noun, compared to the other nouns given:

  1. We did research (no article or determiner)

  2. He didn't share much information (much)

  3. We have little equipment (little = not much)

  4. I have too much work (much)

  5. That advice will help me (that)

  6. I got a lot of feedback (a lot of)

  7. No luggage was lost (singular verb "was")

  8. There is training (singular verb "is")

  9. I need other furniture (other)

  10. Her jewelry is pretty (singular verb "is")

  11. I have less stuff now (less)

  12. I don't know much vocabulary (much)

  13. I heard a little gossip (a little)

  14. There was no news (singular verb "was")

Part 2:

  1. I heard gossip.

  2. I have too much work.

  3. The equipment is broken.

  4. Can I get a little advice from you?

  5. There is no information available.

  6. We've received a lot of feedback.

  7. I packed less stuff for this trip than last time.

  8. We've heard little news about the situation.

  9. The amount of furniture in the house makes it look crowded.

  10. Can you help me with this luggage?

Comentarios


bottom of page