Count versus Noncount Nouns

 

Before getting into articles specifically, it’s necessary to discuss “count” versus “noncount” nouns. Many languages make a similar distinction, but what is considered countable and not countable often seems arbitrary and varies from language to language.

In English, nouns tend to be one or the other. Below are a series of sentences using the noncount noun “ice” and another series of sentences using the count noun “girl.” Notice which sentences are grammatical and which are ungrammatical:

Noncount noun: ice

  1. The ice [a singular unit] is lying next to another one.
  2. An ice fell on the floor.
  3. The ices got cold.
  4. Some ices fell on the floor.
  5. Ices are for cooling beverages.
  6. The ice was almost completely melted.
  7. Some ice fell on the floor.
  8. Ice is naturally cold.

Sentences #1-5 are ungrammatical, while sentences #6-8 are grammatical.

Count noun: girl

  1. The girl played in the park.
  2. A girl played in the park.
  3. The girls played in the park.
  4. Some girls played in the park.
  5. Girls are not made of sugar and spice.
  6. The girl [uncountable amount] wasn’t enough to form a team.
  7. Some girl formed a team.
  8. Girl is not made of sugar and spice.

Sentences #1-5 are grammatical, while sentences #6-8 are ungrammatical.

 

 

Next