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    Learn English > English lessons and exercises > English test #105884: Uncountables and Countables
    > Other English exercises on the same topic: Plural [Change theme]
    > Similar tests: - Plural - Countable or Uncountable? - Plural - Plural of nouns - Plural: Nouns ending in -ff, -f, -fe - Irregular plurals - Agreement of subject and verb - Count Nouns-Proper Nouns
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    Uncountables and Countables


    When studying a noun phrase, one of the most important points is to know whether the different nouns used are COUNTABLES (which means that you can count them) or UNCOUNTABLES ( which means that it's impossible to do it ! ). As a matter of fact, this distinction has a lot of consequences on the use and the construction of these nouns. 


    1) Characterictics of the Uncountables:

    - They have no plural. The verb which accompanies them is ALWAYS IN THE SINGULAR.

    ex : Your hair is too long ! You should have it cut !

    - In front of them, it's impossible to have a number [(either a cardinal one : one, two, three... etc.) or an ordinal one : (first, second, third ...)], 'few/a few/many', nor the indefinite article :  'a/an'.

    - An Uncountable can be preceded by 'some, any, no', 'little', 'a little', much, this/that (but not 'these/ those' [which are plurals].

    If we want to be more precise, 'a lot of',  or'a piece of'... or even, the absence of indefinite article must be used.

    ex : How many pieces of luggage did you bring ? I can find only two (pieces of furniture)!

    2) What are the Uncountables ?

    - They are concrete nouns  expressing materials (cotton, iron, gold, velvet ...), food (chocolate, butter, beer, tea, wine ...)

    ex : What a disaster ! You've run out of chocolate ...  

    - human activities  : business, work, swimming, housing, etc.

    ex : Business is slack just now ...

    ex : All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy ! BUT ... All play and no work makes Jack a silly boy !

    - Nouns belonging to a set of matching pieces :

                ** concrete nouns : furniture, luggage in British English - baggage in American English.

    ex : She has too much furniture in a tiny room ... and it's not good quality !

                ** abstract nouns corresponding to French plurals (and perhaps in other languages too): information, advice, progress, the news, knowledge, evidence, nonsense, trouble, etc.

    ex : 'You've made so much progress recently !' 'Yes, I knew that my father's advice was good, and I followed it  !'

                **  Nouns concerning the weather: weather, thunder, lightning, smoke ...

    ex : We had terrible weather during our weekend there !


    Characteristics of countables :

    - They indicate elements which can be counted : Therefore, they can  be used either in the singular or in the plural.

    - They can be preceded by a number (either cardinal or ordinal), by 'many', 'few', 'a few', 'several', 'these' and 'those', 'a' ou 'an' ...

    ex : Many students were punished because several of them had cheated and only a few confessed it !


    - some nouns can be countables sometimes, and uncountables at other times..

    ex : TIME : Uncount. = 'Time flies !'

    ex :               Count. =  I hope you're having a good time.

    -  Some singular (strange !) plurals  and singulars  ...

    ** They end with an -s and YET, they're singulars : 'Mathematics' ; 'Economics' ; 'the News' ; 'the United States' + IS ...

    ex : Mathematics was so difficult ...It was my worst nightmare !

    ex : For a lot of immigrants, the United States was the land of milk and honey !

    *** Some are OFTEN followed by a verb in the plural : 'the government' (when you consider its different members), 'the audience' (considered as many individuals together ...), 'family' (When we consides all its members ...), 'the crowd' (a group of individuals) , 'sheep' (when part of a herd).

    ex : Our family were supporting us through our grief ...

    **** Others are ALWAYS followed by a verb in the plural : 'the police' (if you want to mention a single man, you must specify : 'a policeman'), 'clothes', 'cattle'.

    ex : The police are investigating a murder in the neighbourhood.

    ***** A few have the same form in the singular and in the plural : A TV series => 'a series' => 'series';  'a means' = a way to do something => 'means of transportation' ....

    ex : There's a means to get help !

    Well ! Now, you must be ready for the exercice ... an easy one ... Good luck !











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    1) 'The US a huge, plentiful country. I'd like to live and study there !' : the Mexican girl thought...
    2) I know I say and do ... but I'd like to get away with as as possible !
    3) This clown looks ridiculous ! His blue and long, and his much too short ! Poor guy !
    4) 'The News to you by Kevin Smith ! As the € and the $ are going up, good news today ! '
    5) Listen to your sister 's really good !
    6) I really need about Immigration to the US. There that nobody could give me... That's a difficult situation...
    7) 'No more than per person', Dad had said... Oh dear, where shall I put my 'comfort elephant' ? Good ! I have pockets... and one of them is as huge as a kangaroo's !
    8) Alas ! There that the world economy is going through a crisis just now !
    9) I'm hopeless at Maths and yet, I do a lot ! Mathematics me... I suppose it's because I don't love Maths either ! ;0)
    10) Some Mexicans go down to the sewers to become illegals... very dangerous means of entering the USA !

    End of the free exercise to learn English: Uncountables and Countables
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