Countable and Uncountable Nouns: The Sands of Time! Definition and Examples

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Meaning of Countable Nouns

The term Countable Nouns refers to something that can be counted. Because these Nouns can be counted, they have both singular and plural forms. For instance, cats are the plural of cat. 

The singular form of Countable Nouns may be preceded by a/an.

  • For example, you may hear a native English speaker say “I saw a black cat on Halloween.” In the previous sentence, “a cat” is countable, but “Halloween is not.” 

Meaning of Uncountable Nouns

Nouns that refer to things that can’t be counted are called Uncountable Nouns.  Uncountable Nouns do not have a plural form. Some examples of Uncountable Nouns include earth, rain, rice, sugar, wine, wood, and Halloween. Abstract Nouns, like holidays and feelings, always fall into the category of Uncountable Nouns. 

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A Bit of Grammar 

Most often, Uncountable Nouns aren’t preceded by a/an. This is because the Indefinite Article (a/an) acts as a device for counting Nouns. In fact, the Indefinite Article a/an states that there is one of an item.

For this reason, Abstract Nouns like happiness, truth, darkness, and humor are never preceded by a/an, they are uncountable.  Or as some say, it’s not possible to measure joy and sorrow. 

Yet, some Uncountable Nouns may be preceded by an Indefinite Article. For example, “He ordered a coffee” places “a” before the Uncountable Noun “coffee.” This is done because the sentence refers to a cup of coffee and cups are countable. 

Another exception to the rule includes “sands.” The Noun “sands” may be either Countable or Uncountable.  When “sand” is uncountable, it refers to a collection of “sands.” 

In the spirit of Halloween and Countable/Uncountable Nouns, I would like to leave you this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: 

Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time..

In the poem, we are reminded of the passage of time, the briefness of life, and what we leave behind. Wadsworth achieves this all through the countable form of “sands.” 

Examples of Countable and Uncountable Nouns

  • I love reading a book during my free time. 
  • This recipe needs one egg and one tomato. 
  • Erica bought a new house. 

Let’s practice 

Q1: Try making your own sentence. 

Q2: Do you believe that a single idea can change your life? Why or why not? 

Q3: What is the most memorable story that you would like to share? 

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