Nouns that Can Be Countable or Uncountable

Learn how to identify nouns that can be countable or uncountable.

Countable nouns are individual objects, people, places, etc. which can be counted. (We use a/an or a number in front of countable nouns).

Uncountable nouns are materials, concepts, information, etc. which are not individual objects and can not be counted.

Nouns that are Count and Noncount

Some nouns can be used as both countable or uncountable, usually with a difference in meaning.

Iron

  • iron = material (They tried to change iron into gold.)
  • iron = electrical appliance (I scorched my dress with the iron.)

Glass

  • glass = material (Glass can be recycled from old bottles.)
  • glass = container (Champagne was fizzing in the glass.)

Time

  • time = length of an activity (How much time did it take you to sing? )
  • time = number of instances (Mary had seen the film many times.)

Paper

  • paper = material (This book is made of paper.)
  • paper = a report or essay (He wrote a paper on grammar.)
  • paper = a newspaper (I read about it in the paper.)

Light

  • light = energy form (I closed my eyes against the bright light.)
  • light = lamps / light bulbs (I switched on the light in the bedroom.)

Work

  • work = an activity (Stop talking and get on with your work.)
  • work = a product (This is the work of Shakespeare.)

Chicken

  • chicken = food (I had chicken for dinner.)
  • chicken = kind of animal (They keep chickens in the back yard.)

Hair

  • hair = hair in general (She had thick brown hair.)
  • hair = individual strands of hair (He had a few grey hairs on his temples.)

Room

  • room = space (Is there enough room for me?)
  • room = place (They had to sit in the waiting room for an hour.)

Coffee, Water, Beer, Tea, Soda

  • coffee, … = drink (I like tea better than coffee.)
  • coffee, … = number of drinks (Two strong black coffees, please.)

Meat

  • meat = food (I gave up eating meat a few months ago.)
  • meat = type of meat (I hate eating red meats like beef and lamb.)

Fruit

  • fruit = food (The fruit was too sour to eat.)
  • fruit = kind of fruit (She sells fruits at a market stall.)

Experience

  • experience = knowledge or skill (My lack of practical experience was a disadvantage.)
  • experience = an incident that affects you (It was her first experience of living alone.)

Fire

  • fire = element (Most animals are afraid of fire.)
  • fire = a burning pile (Firemen put out fires.)

Memory

  • memory = the ability to remember (I have a very good visual memory.)
  • memory = specific memories of past events (He’s trying to block out memories of the accident.)

Nouns that are Count and Noncount | Pictures

Nouns that Can Be Countable or Uncountable | Image 1

Nouns that Can Be Countable or Uncountable | Image 2

Nouns that Can Be Countable or Uncountable | Image 3

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