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Nouns 1

Part 1 -Countable and uncountable

1) Countable nouns
`Books' and `sausage' are countable nouns. Countable nouns can be singular (a book) or plural (books).


Before singular countable nouns, we can use a/an, the, my, this, one, etc. We cannot use singular countable nouns alone:

  • There is an egg on my plate.

  • I can't find my laptop.


Before plural countable nouns, we can also use some, any, many, few, etc. Plural countable nouns can be used alone. We cannot use a/an.​

  • I brought some T-shirts from Ankara.

  • I don't have any problems with my coworkers, but I have a few issues with my boss.

  • He smokes 15 cigarettes a day.

2) Uncountable nouns
'Bread' is an uncountable noun. We cannot count uncountable nouns. For example, we cannot say 'ten breads'. We can use uncountable nouns alone or with the, some, any, much, a lot of, etc:

  • Do you like music?

  • Mert doesn't have much free time today. He has a lot of work to do in the office.


We cannot use a/an with uncountable nouns, but we can say a ... of:

  • a piece of advice

  • a glass of milk

  • a game of baseball

3) Some uncountable nouns can also be countable. The meaning also becomes countable:

  • Do you have any paper to write on?

  • The Times is a serious paper. (= a newspaper)

  • There was a lot of space on the bus.

  • I found a space to park my car. (= a parking place)

  • I don't like coffee. (= coffee in general)

  • I've had two coffees today. (= two cups of coffee)


A: I have a lot of work to do. Yesterday, I worked until midnight.
B: You really need to find a new job. Here... I bought a paper for you.

Part 2 -Countable and uncountable

Before nouns we often use a/an or the:

  1. Ferdi has a cat and a dog. The cat is shy, but the dog is very friendly.

    When we mention something for the first time, we use the indefinite article "a/an". When we know which thing someone is talking about, the definite article "the" is used.

    In the second sentence, we know which particular cat and which particular dog the speaker is talking about - John's cat and John's dog.

    I had a sandwich and an orange for lunch. The sandwich was very tasty and the orange was fresh.

    I met an interesting woman yesterday. I think the woman was from Poland.

  2. We went to a nice restaurant last night. The food was good but the service wasn't.

    In the above example, the person says the food and the service because we know which particular `food' and `service' he/she is talking about - the food and the service in the restaurant.

    Can you close the door, please? (the door in this room)
    I'm going to the bank now. (my usual bank)
    I went to see the doctor yesterday. (my usual doctor)

  3. What is the capital of Turkey?

    We often use the when there is only one something:

    The fastest animal in the world.
    The end of this year.
    I use the Internet everyday.
    the sun / the earth / the sky / the universe etc.

    BUT: The sun is in space. (not `the space')

  4. I'm going to the cinema tonight.

    We use the before certain nouns like `cinema' when we are thinking about the use of a thing or place. In the above example, we are thinking about going to watch a film, not going to one particular cinema. Other examples:

    I went to the theatre yesterday.
    I often listen to the radio.
    I sometimes play games on the computer.
    He doesn't like talking on the telephone.

    BUT: I often watch television. (not `the television').
    `The television' means a particular television set: Can you turn off the television?


  • We are going to the cinema tonight to see an interesting movie.

  • Oh really? What is the name of the movie?

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