Understand Uncountable Nouns
Uncountable nouns (also known as mass nouns) are naming words that name something that cannot be counted.
As such, uncountable nouns identify those things for which we don’t usually give the number of individual items.For example:
- liquids (water, steam, gasoline, etc.) or solids (salt, rice, sand, etc.), which are usually quantified in terms of weights or volumes.
Abstract qualities such as frustration, music, wisdom, silence, satisfaction, etc., are classified as uncountable nouns.
Sometimes the distinction does not always appear clear, for example, crisps are countable but it is unusual to talk about specific numbers of crisps; we usually talk about bags of crisps.
Characteristics of Uncountable Nouns
1. They have only Singular Form
Uncountable nouns act as singular nouns (cannot be made plural, e.g. rice, milk, astrology, happiness, etc) and take third person singular forms of verbs.For Example:
- Joseph Priestly discovered oxygen.
- water is essential in daily living.
→Since “water” is uncountable noun, it takes the singular verb “is” individually rather than the plural verb “are.”
- Gravel is more expensive than I thought.
→“Gravel” cannot be made plural, and as a result it takes the singular verb “is”.
2. Non Feature of Numbers
Uncountable nouns cannot be used with numbers because they cannot be counted, hence they are not to be preceded by numbers.
3. They can Stand Alone
Uncountable nouns do not need determinersOpens in new window.For Example:
- I want rice and water.
- We all seek happiness.
- I do not believe in astrology.