Uncountable nouns


Names of substances considered generally:

bread / cream / gold / paper / tea / beer / dust/ ice / sand / water / cloth / gin / jam / soap / wine / coffee / glass / oil / stone / wood

Abstract nouns:

advice / beauty / behaviour / concern / confidence / death / depression / design / duty /experience / faith / hope / horror / pity / beauty / fear / fun / information / relief / courage / happiness / health / help / justice / life / love / knowledge / nonsense / permission / poverty / pride / progress / reality / suspicion / mercy / traffic / training / transport / travel / weather / work

Also considered uncountable in English:

baggage / childhood / comfort / countryside / courage / damage / death / democracy / education / electricity / environment / equipment / evil / evidence / existence / failure / furniture / homework / luggage / shopping / camping / furniture / parking / weather / hair / information / knowledge / news / rubbish

Uncountable nouns are always singular and are not used with a/an:

I don't want (any) advice or help.

I want (some) information.

He has had no experience in this sort of work.

To count uncountable nouns, or to refer to a specific amount of something, we can use phrases like a piece of, a bit of, a slice of, etc. Here are some examples:

a bit of news

a cake of soap

a drop of oil

a grain of sand

a pane of glass

a piece of advice

a pot of jam

a jar of jam

a sheet of paper

a bar of chocolate

a bit of cheese

a blob of paint

a bottle of cola

a can of lemonade

a carton of milk

a cup of coffee

a drop of water

a glass of orange juice

a gram of sugar

a handful of rice

a kilo of rice

a loaf of bread

a litre of water

a lump of sugar

a piece of furniture

a pile of rubbish

a pool of blood

a portion of chicken

a sheet of paper

a slice of cake

a spoonful of salt

a spot of blood

a touch of glamour

a tube of toothpaste


Some nouns can be both countable and uncountable. Here are examples:



Example (countable)

Example (uncountable)


He sat there and ate a whole chicken.

I'll have some chicken and chips, please.


I'd love a coffee now. (= a cup)

Is there any coffee left?


Failing an exam was a new experience for me.

Have you had any previous experience?


A kumquat is an exotic fruit.

You should eat fruit every day.


The cat has left white hairs all over the sofa.

Get your hair cut — it's getting too long.


I'd like an orange juice, please. (= a glass)

There's some apple juice in the fridge.


I heard a noise outside the window.

Stop making so much noise!


Sometimes the countable and uncountable forms can have completely different meanings:


Example (countable)

Example (uncountable)


Is the iron hot enough?

Spinach is full of iron.


Dad's reading his paper. (= newspaper)

You'll need some paper to write on.


There's a wood near our house.

His sculpture was made of wood.


the complete works of Shakespeare

I've got a bit of work to do.