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Countable and Uncountable nouns

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Tiffany Loone

on 26 May 2015

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Transcript of Countable and Uncountable nouns

Use of countable nouns
Countable nouns can be used along with a/an, numbers, determiners (eg. these, a few)

For positive sentences we can use a/an or some + the
There is

in the classroom.
There are

in the classroom.

For negative sentences we can use a/an or any + the
There isn’t

in the classroom.
There aren’t
in the classroom.

In question form we can use a/an, any or how many + the
Is there
in the classroom?
Are there

in the classroom?
How many

are there?

(Belliston, 2014).

Activity one
Imaginary farm excursion and worksheet
You are in an Australian primary school ESL class comprising of 13 students in grades 1-3.

Learning objective:
To revise vocabulary relating to fruit, vegetables and farm animals, focusing on uncountable and countable nouns.
Belliston, S. (2014). Countable vs uncountable nouns. Retrieved from http://www.learn-english-online.org/Lesson38/Lesson38.htm

Larsen- Freeman D. (2008). Chapter 8: Learning grammar: Insights from SLA Research and consciousness raising. In Larsen-Freeman,
Teaching language: From grammar to grammaring
, p 78-99. Boston: Thomas/ Hienle. Retrieved from QUT CMD Readings.

NSW Government (Department of Education and Communities). (2014). Identifying and using correct quantifier, determiner for accountable noun. Retrieved from http://www.schools.nsw.edu.au/learning/7-12assessments/naplan/teachstrategies/yr2014/index.php?id=ll_noun_s2_14.

Raimes, A. (1990).
How English works: A grammar handbook with readings.
New York City, NY. St. Martin's Press

Simon, P. (2009). Grammaring: A guide to English grammar. Retrieved from http://www.grammaring.com/determiners-with-countable-and-uncountable-nouns-some-any-no-many-much-few-little-etc.

Young, D. (1984).
Introducing English grammar.
New York City, NY: Routledge.

Activity two
Go Fish card game
1. Form
three groups
of roughly the same size
2. Each player is to take
five cards
from the pile
3. The aim of the game is to collect pairs of the same

4. You may ask anyone in your group for the noun you need - if they have a card with a matching noun, they are to hand it to you but
they must tell you how much or how many of the particular noun they have and use the appropriate suffix.
eg. "Tiffany, do you have any
"Yes, I have
two cherries
*hands over single card*

5. If they do not have the card you need, they say 'Go Fish' and
collect a card from the deck.
eg. "Tiffany, do you have any bread?"
"Go Fish"
*Bojana picks up card from the deck*

The first person to pair off all of their cards if the winner!

Countable and uncountable nouns
Countable nouns refer to any nouns that can be counted. They can be singular or plural.

For example:

"I have one
. How many
do you have, Tiffany?"

"I've got
two dogs

Bojana Sakic and Tiffany Loone
The bus driver sits in
a seat
at the front of the bus.

We will all sit in the

behind him.
Farmer Joe grows
at the front of his farm.

At the back of the farm, farmer Joe keeps all of his

Let's go around the back and see which
we can find...
We've arrived!
Meaning of countable nouns

You can make uncountable nouns countable by putting a
countable expression
in front of the noun.

Uncountable nouns are
used with the indefinite articles

), or
However, they
be used with the definite article


For example:

The advice
you gave me for peer feedback was very useful.


Which of these are correct:

Can I give you an advice?

Can I give you some advice?

Use of uncountable nouns

Types of determiners

Articles – a, an, the

Possessive pronouns – his, yours, theirs, ours, whose etc.

Numbers – one, two, three etc.

Indefinite pronouns – indicate more than one- few, more, each, every, either, all, both, some, any etc.

Demonstrative pronouns – this, that, these, those, such

We use a specific determiner when we believe the listener/reader knows exactly what we are referring to.

To ensure countable nouns are grammatically and syntactically correct, you must add the appropriate suffix.

Form of countable nouns
(NSW Government- Department of Education and Communities, 2014)
Home time...

Meaning of uncountable nouns
Uncountable nouns cannot be counted and cannot be used in the plural form.

For example:

One sheep, two sheep.

His education, their education.

There is no set form that uncountable nouns take - they simply have to be memorised. However, there are several categories that uncountable nouns fall under. For example:

Ideas and experiences:
advice, information, progress, news, luck, fun, work

Materials and substances:
water, rice, cement, gold, milk

Weather words:
weather, thunder, lightning, rain, snow

Names for groups, or collections, of things:
furniture, equipment, rubbish, luggage

Expressions classifying people into categories
: the blind, the poor, the deaf, the wealthy, the unemployed, etc.

Other common uncountable nouns include: accommodation, baggage, homework, knowledge, money, traffic, travel.

You may be able to think of some others.
Form of uncountable nouns
The roots of uncountable nouns

There are exceptions to the countable noun rules:

Fish is an uncountable noun. Its plural is fish.

In biology, however, 'fishes' is used to refer to multiple species of fish.

For example:

I saw four fish when I went scuba diving.
The above means you saw four individual fish.

I saw four fishes when I went scuba diving.
The inference is that you saw an undetermined number of fish of four different species
The roots of countable nouns
British Council, 2014
(Belliston, 2014).


Nouns usually refer to a person, place, or thing.

Nouns can be classified under many different categories (proper nouns, common nouns etc).

Use of countable nouns
Quick quiz:

What is the difference between the terms "four chairs" and "some furniture"?


are noun modifiers which contextualise an uncountable noun in terms of
. They always precede the noun.
For uncountable nouns, these can include: some, any, not much, a little, little, a bit of, a good deal of, a great deal of.
It follows the form of:
a quantifier + uncountable noun

For example:

I had
two glasses
after dinner.

two glasses = quantifier
milk = uncountable noun

a little

, we had
a lot

Use of determiners with countable and uncountable nouns
Simons, 2013 & Raimes, 1990
Simons, 2013 & NSW Government- Department of Education and Communities, 2014.
Simons, 2013
British Council, 2014
Simon, 2013

British Council. (2014). Uncountable and countable nouns. https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/grammar-reference/countable-uncountable-nouns-1
Young, 1984
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