Uncountable Nouns – Examples & Rules

Nouns are any place, person, or thing that we refer to in our speech and sentences. It can be a living thing or a non-living thing. It is basically a word that is used to identify or to name a particular thing.

Nouns can be of many types when we use them in a sentence. It can be singular, plural and countable, or uncountable. Today we will mainly discuss what and how nouns are uncountable in nature.

In a general sense, uncountable nouns are nouns that cannot be counted. Let us get into a detailed discussion to know better.

Uncountable nouns and their usage

Uncountable nouns are nouns that are infinite and cannot be counted. They refer to something that is beyond numbers. They cannot be counted or separated into elements or numbers. Uncountable nouns are also called noncount nouns.

Uncountable nouns are usually substances and concepts, unlike countable nouns that deal with people and animals. For instance, you cannot count “sand” or “water”. These are categorized under uncountable nouns.

Let us look at some common uncountable nouns examples;

  • Sand, water, sugar
  • Love, hope, happiness
  • Money, power, electricity

These are things that are not counted in numbers. They are more like substances and abstract concepts.

Are uncountable nouns always singular?

Yes, when we talk about uncountable nouns, they are always presented as a singular form. This is an important rule that uncountable nouns can never be pluralized. Imagine saying “happinesses” or “waters,” they are simply incorrect.

Thus, to ensure subject-verb agreement, uncountable nouns should always remain singular. Let us look at some examples;

  • “The waters are cold.” This sentence is completely wrong.
  • “The water is cold.” This is correct.
  • “Time are money.” (Wrong)
  • “Time is money.” (Correct)

Usage of some, any, much with uncountable nouns

Now, when we talk about nouns that cannot be counted, we make use of words such as some, much, little, any, etc. Uncountable nouns are not applicable with words like many or few.

It is simply because many and few refer to things that are countable, while the others refer to incalculable elements.

For example;

  • I have so many money left even after shopping. (Wrong)
  • I have so much money left even after shopping. (Correct)
  • I have a few sugar left. (Wrong)
  • I have a little sugar left. (Correct)

Other examples;

  • I have got so much water.
  • I don’t have any hope left.
  • I do not have much time.

Uncountable nouns with articles

When we generally use singular nouns, we use articles that precede them. But that is the case with countable nouns, nouns that can be counted. When we talk about noncount nouns, it is completely different.

Uncountable nouns are not applicable with indefinite articles like “a or an”. It can be presented alone without an article. For instance;

  • There is a hope. (Wrong)
  • There is hope. (Correct)
  • Do you need an advice for your presentation? (Wrong)
  • Do you need any advice for your presentation? (Correct)

There is an exception for the article “the”. “The” is a definite article, and it can be applied with uncountable nouns when referring to a specific mass. For example;

  • I lost all the money I had.
  • The water turned out to be very cold.
  • I don’t have the time and energy to deal with you.

So we can see uncountable nouns or noncount nouns are something that cannot be counted or separated. Unlike countable nouns, which can be separated into numbers, noncount nouns are more like abstract concepts.

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