IELTS Grammar >> Countable and uncountable nouns
i) The sceneries in my country are really beautiful.
ii) There aren’t many furnitures in my flat.
iii) When I travel I don’t like taking a lot of luggages.
Can you see the mistakes in these statements? Hopefully you can because errors like these in the Speaking exam will be penalised. In this lesson we’ll look at countable and uncountable nouns.
Nouns are either countable or uncountable – and sometimes both. Can you add an ‘s’ to the end of the noun? If so, it’s countable. If not, it’s uncountable. In the statements above, ‘scenery’, ‘furniture’ and ‘luggage’ are examples of uncountable nouns and therefore should be used in the singular form like this:
i) The scenery in my country is really beautiful.
ii) There isn’t much furniture in my flat.
iii) When I travel I don’t like taking a lot of luggage.
Here are some things to consider when using countable and uncountable nouns:
a) Some words are almost always uncountable. Words that describe abstract, general ideas or concepts fall into this category. For example:
b) Some words can be both countable and uncountable, depending on their meaning. For example:
i) I’ve always been interested in business and think I might set up my own company one day. (the idea of business in general – uncountable)
ii) There are a few businesses in our town that have gone bust. (specific businesses – countable )
i) I love eating cheese after a meal. (cheese in general – uncountable)
ii) There’s a shop in my town that sells lots of different cheeses. (specific cheeses – countable)
c) The noun may be countable in your language but that doesn’t mean it is in English. For example, these words are usually uncountable. Is the equivalent word in your language countable or uncountable?
d) Uncountable nouns can be used in what is called a ‘partitive expression’ in a plural form.
i) My teacher gave me several good pieces of advice that I’ll never forget.
ii) We always serve dinner with bowls of rice.
iii) I drink several cups of tea a day.
10 Minute Grammar
Watch our ’10-Minute Grammar’ video for more practice in countable and uncountable nouns, including more examples of partitive expressions.
Over to you
Describe a typical weekly shopping trip for your family. What kind of things end up in your shopping trolley? Include as many partitive expressions as you can think of. For example:
We usually buy a couple of tubes of toothpaste, one or two loaves of bread …
Include things like:
Next Step? Find out what the typical grammar mistakes are that IELTS candidates tend to make and practise some of these areas. Sign up to IELTS Speaking: Advanced for grammar tests and a whole lot more!