Material Noun – Examples & Rules

Nouns seem to be a simple concept. It is just the name provided to the class of people and objects. But, when their classifications are involved, it might become a little tricky.

Nouns are classified in several forms. For instance, common noun, proper noun, concrete noun, material noun, etc. Today we will discuss material nouns and describe how and when they are put to use.

Material noun, in general, is a noun provided for substances. It is not very complicated, but some rules need to be followed while using a material noun. So let’s get right into it.

What is a Material noun?

In a general sense, a material can be defined as a noun or a word used to refer to substances or any element made up of metals, alloys, or various other metallic elements.

In simple words, it is any raw material that exists in the environment. They are substances made from natural processes and naturally occurring substances. The main sources of material nouns are nature, plants, and animals. Material nouns only refer to substances and elements. It does not aim at referring to people or any places.

Let us look at some basic material noun examples;


  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Coal
  • Copper


  • Cotton
  • Oil
  • Tea
  • Coffee


  • Honey
  • Eggs
  • Silk
  • Wool

These are some basic examples. There are also material nouns that are made up of human-made materials. For instance, alcohol, cheese, etc.

Usage of Material noun

As discussed earlier, material nouns are words that are used to refer to anything that belongs to the category of materials, and anything that is a material falls in the category of material nouns. That is also why a material noun is called a material noun.

But, before using a material noun in a sentence, we need to understand whether material nouns are countable or noncount nouns.

Usually, material nouns are said to be noncount nouns or uncountable nouns. That is because they are in either liquid, solid or semi-liquid forms. We cannot count a substance or a material. So we can assume that material nouns are uncountable nouns.

However, if we, for instance, take a material and count its different types or take into account the plural form of the material noun, then it can be used as a countable noun. Here we are referring to different types of material nouns or the numbers of material nouns and not about their substance. But that is not very common.

Using material noun with a sentence:

When we use a material noun in a sentence, we need to take into account whether we are using it as a countable or uncountable noun.

Mostly material nouns are uncountable nouns. And hence, they are not used with articles like a or an. For example;

  • Do you want honey with your pancakes?
  • Can I get some milk?
  • My chain is made up of silver.

When we use material nouns as countable nouns, we can apply the articles a and an.

  • I tasted a beautiful wine last night.

We need to realize that a material noun as a countable noun is only correct when we refer to its types, multiple numbers, or when used for helping nature.

Using “the” with material nouns is correct when we are referring to the specific material. For example;

  • The milk I drank last night was bitter.

So we see material nouns are basically names for substances. They are not people or place related. They are generally noncount nouns and while using them, following the above rules is necessary.

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