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Countable nouns - uncountable nouns...
When studying nominal groups, one of the most important points is to know if the nouns used in the different sentences are COUNTABLES (which means they can be counted) or UNCOUNTABLES (they can't be counted). This difference has, indeed, a lot of consequences on these nouns and on the sentences in which they're used. Therefore, you must know these words and their constructions.
I) COUNTABLES: Characteristics of countable nouns:
- They indicate elements which can be counted: they can be used either in the singular or in the plural.
- They can be preceded by a numeral (either cardinal or ordinal), by 'many', 'few', 'a few', 'several', 'these' and 'those', 'a' ou 'an'...
- There were many books in the school library; a lot of these books had no pictures at all; on the top shelf, I saw a few books in Chinese.
II) UNCOUNTABLES: 1) Characterictics of Uncountable Nouns:
a) They have no plural. The verb which accompanies them is ALWAYS IN THE SINGULAR.
- Your hair is too long! You should have it cut!
b) In front of them, it's impossible to have a numeral [(either a cardinal one : one, two, three...) or an ordinal one : (first, second, third ...)], 'few/ a few/ many', or the indefinite article: 'a/ an'.
c) An uncountable noun 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.
- Your father gave me a lot of advice. On the contrary, your mother only gave me one piece of advice, but it was a very important one.
- What a disaster! We've run out of chocolate.
2) UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS: WHAT ARE THEY?
a) CONCRETE nouns expressing MATERIALS and FOOD:
|Cotton/ silk/ velvet/ wool||chocolate/ butter/ flour/ meat|
|Plastic/ concrete/ stone||beer/ wine/ water|
|Iron/ steel/ gold/ silver||tea/ coffee/ milk|
|Wood/ water||juice/ beer/ wine|
- HUMAN ACTIVITIES:
- GROUPS of ELEMENTS: when wanting to speak about one item only, use "a piece of..."
Here is what you need to know about COUNTABLES and UNCOUNTABLES. The following test shouldn't be too difficult for you... I give you THE FORCE...
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