Main Difference – Countable vs Uncountable Nouns
As their names suggest, the difference between countable and uncountable nouns lies in their number. That is, the nouns that can be counted using numbers are called countable nouns whereas the nouns that cannot be counted are termed uncountable nouns. The main difference between countable and uncountable nouns is that countable nouns can be expressed in both singular and plural forms whereas uncountable nouns cannot take a plural form.
What are Countable Nouns
Countable nouns are the nouns that can be counted using numbers. They refer to separate and distinct individual units. Since they can be counted, they can be both singular and plural. Most nouns we know are countable nouns. When you want to ask a question about the quantity of countable nouns, you should use the question ‘how many?’
The usage of determiners and verbs also differ or depend on the state of countable nouns. In the following examples, note how the determiners and verbs are influenced by the countable noun.
The two girls were smiling at each other.
How many friends do you have?
I read several books, but I didn’t find anything about it.
Some men rushed to help the old lady.
The children like to play in the mud.
What are Uncountable Nouns
Uncountable nouns are the opposite of countable nouns. Uncountable nouns are the things we cannot count using numbers. Since they cannot be counted, they cannot take plural forms as well. Uncountable nouns are also known as non-countable nouns, mass nouns or noncount nouns.
Uncountable nouns may be names of abstract ideas or qualities. (honesty, bravery, patience, intelligence, honor, etc.) They can also refer to physical objects that are too small or amorphous to be counted. (Rice, milk, dust, coffee, chalk, etc.) Since they cannot be counted, most of them take a singular form. When you want to ask a question about the quantity of uncountable nouns, you should use the question ‘how much?’
Honor, Bravery, Advice, Information, Research, Work, Recreation, Honesty,
Cloth, Wood, Water, Meat, Flour, Cotton, Rice, Butter, Oil, Grass, Ice cream
Furniture, Mail, Luggage, Jewelry, Money, Equipment, Machinery, Garbage
Air, Sunshine, Thunder, Heat, Soil, Dust, Humidity, Rain, Snow, Gravity
However, it is important to note that we can use expressions of quantity such as a bag of, 2kg of, a lot of, a bit of, two spoons of, five blocks of, etc.
I bought two loaves of bread.
He made two cups of coffee.
We bought 2 liters of milk.
Note that the uncountable noun itself does not take a plural form here. But a sense of plurality is added by the expressions of quantity.
Difference Between Countable and Uncountable Nouns
Countable Nouns can be counted with numbers.
Uncountable Nouns cannot be counted with numbers.
Countable Nouns take both singular and plural form.
Uncountable Nouns takes the singular form.
Countable Nouns can be made plural.
Uncountable Nouns cannot be generally made plural.
Countable Nouns use the interrogative expression ‘how many.’
Uncountable Nouns use the interrogative expression ‘how much.