A noun may be a person, a place, an object, an activity, an idea or emotion, or a quantity. A noun can be concrete (physical, tangible) or abstract (nonphysical, intangible). Both types (concrete and abstract) can be classified in two categories: countable nouns and uncountable nouns (count nouns and non-count nouns; some books will use this terminology).
Countable nouns are nouns that can be counted: cars, ideas, people etc. They have both singular and plural form. Most of the countable nouns are tangible; they can be seen, heard, felt and so on. Few countable nouns are abstract: emotions, ideas.
A singular countable noun must be preceded by an article (a, an, or the) or by an adjective (his, my, one, three etc) as you can see in the examples below.
- I have a motorbike.
- The motorbike is made by Yamaha.
- I bought my motorbike last year.
Most plural nouns are not preceded by an article. Adjectives like many, most, some etc can precede plural countable nouns. “The” is used only when the noun is specifically known or identified.
- Yamaha motorcycles are usually less expensive than Honda motorcycles.
- Some motorcycles are made for racing.
- The motorcycle that I bought for the race was very expensive.
Uncountable nouns are usually mass nouns (oil, water, etc) or abstract nouns (honesty, love, etc) that we don’t normally count. Uncountable nouns are always singular.
- “A” and “an” are never used with uncountable nouns. “The” is used in some cases with uncountable nouns (Example: The pepper fromIndia was very valuable.).
- Units of measurement such as kilogram, gallon, pounds, etc. are often used with mass nouns. (Example: Please buy two kilograms of cheese.).
- Adjectives (any, our, some) and other quantifiers (a lot of, plenty of, etc) can be used with uncountable nouns (Example: We all need a little love and consideration.).
- Most activities and studies are uncountable nouns (Example: English is a difficult subject.).
- Gerunds (the –ing form of verbs) function as uncountable nouns. (Example: Your helping me was very considerate)
Nouns that are both countable and uncountable
Some nouns can be countable and uncountable depending on the context.
- Experience is the best teacher. (In this situation “experience” is an uncountable noun; Experience = an idea with no specific limits)
- I’ve had many good experiences inVietnam and some bad ones. (In this situation “experiences” is a countable noun; Experiences = specific actions or situation)
- I had turkey for lunch. (Turkey = a type of food; In this situation “turkey” is an uncountable noun)
- Have you ever seen a turkey? (Turkey = a bird; In this situation “turkey” is a countable noun)
|Subject||I You He She It||We They|
|Object||Me You Him Her It||Us Them|
|Possessive Adjective||My Your His Her Its||Our Their|
|Possessive Pronoun||Mine Yours His Hers Its||Ours Theirs|
|Reflexive||Myself Yourself Himself Herself Itself||Ourselves Themselves Yourselves|
- Singular pronouns are used to refer to singular nouns
- Plural pronouns are used to refer to plural nouns
- Subject (not object) pronouns are used as complements of linking verbs
- Object (not subject) pronouns are used as direct or indirect objects of verbs and as objects of prepositions.
- Possessive adjectives (her, my, etc) are used with body parts.