Countable and Uncountable Nouns (Skill 20)

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Previous Written expression problem: Singular ad Plural nouns (Skill 19)

In English, nouns are classified as countable or uncountable. For certain questions on the TOEFL test, it is necessary to distinguish countable and uncountable nouns in order to use the correct modifiers with them.

      As the name implies, countable nouns are nouns that can be counted. Count able nouns can come in quantities of one, or two, or a hundred, etc. The noun book is countable because you can have one book or several books.

     Uncountable nouns, on the other hand, are nouns that cannot be counted because they come in some indeterminate quantity or mass. A noun such as milk or happiness cannot be counted; you cannot have one milk or two milks, and you cannot find one happiness or two happinesses. Uncountable nouns are often liquid items such as water oil, or shampoo. Uncountable nouns can also refer to abstract ideas such as security, friendship, or hope.

     It is important for you to recognize the difference between countable and uncountable nouns when you come across such key words as much and many.

They have taken much* trips recently.

There was not many* water in the pool.

In the first example, much is incorrect because trips is countable. This sentence should say many trips. In the second example, many is incorrect because water is uncountable. This sentence should say much water.

The following chart lists the key words that indicate to you whether a noun is countable or uncountable.

EXERCISE 20: Each of the following sentences contains at least one key word to tell you if a noun is countable or uncountable. Circle the key words. Draw arrows to the nouns they describe. Then indicate if the sentences are correct (C) or incorrect (I).

1. She will visit in a few months. (C)

  • a few is followed by countable noun and months is countable noun, too.
  • So, a few months is correct.
2. Many are unnecessary. (I)

  • There should be countable noun object after Many.
3. You need to show a little kindness. (C)

  • little is followed by uncountable noun and kindness is uncountable noun, too.
  • So, a little kindness is correct.

 4. You have a number of choice.(I)

  • a number should be follow by plural of countable noun. choice should be choices. So it should be a number of choices.
 5. There was a large amount of apples in the bowl. (I)

  • apples is countable noun
  • amount is followed by countable noun 
  • So, it should be a number of apples, not amount of apples.

6. We have fewer opportunities now.(C)

  • fewe is followed by countable noun and opportunities is countable noun.
  • So, fewer opportunities is correct
7. How much money is left? (C)

  • much is followed by uncountable noun and money is uncountable noun, too.
  • So much money is correct.
8. He caused less problems this time. (I)

  • less is followed by uncountable noun
  • problems is countable noun. So less problems is incorrect. It should be fewer problems.
9. They need a little times to finish their work. (I)

  • little is followed by uncountable noun
  • time is uncountable noun and should be time (no S). So a little times is incorrect. It should be a little time.
10. He visited many exotic places.(C)

  • exotic places are countable noun 
  • many should be followed by countable noun, too. So many exotic places is correct.
Continue with TOEFL Exercise and TOEFL Review Exercise (Skill 19-20)


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