Countable Nouns in English

Countable Nouns in EnglishCountables as part of common nouns. When they split up materials.


Countables are usually common nouns with plurality, things we can count. They may be singular or plural, concrete (animate/inanimate) or abstract.

I like apples.

Most countables form their plural with the regular –s ending. After singular –s/ss/ch/sh the plural ending is –es. Nouns ending in consonant+y change y into –ie-.

Irregular Singulars

singular plural

Irregular Plurals

child children
man men
woman women
ox oxen
-f(e) -ves
leaf leaves/leafs
life lives
thief thieves
knife knives
wife wives
wolf wolves
elf elves
half halves
calf calves
scarf scarves/scarfs
shelf shelves
-oo- -ee-
foot feet
goose geese
tooth teeth
-ouse -ice
louse lice
mouse mice
-um/us/on -a
bacterium bacteria
corpus corpora
criterion criteria
curriculum curricula
datum data
genus genera/genuses
medium media
memorandum memoranda
phenomenon phenomena
stratum strata
-ix -ices
appendix appendixes/appendices
index indexes/indices
matrix matrixes/matrices
-us -i
alumnus alumni
cactus cactuses/cacti
focus focuses/foci
fungus funguses/fungi
nucleus nucleuses/nuclei
radius radiuses/radii
stimulus stimuli
-is -es
axis axes
analysis analyses
basis bases
crisis crises
diagnosis diagnoses
ellipsis ellipses
hypothesis hypotheses
oasis oases
paralysis paralyses
parenthesis parentheses
synthesis syntheses
synopsis synopses
thesis theses
-eau -eaux
beau beaus/beaux
bureau bureaus/bureaux
tableau tableaus/tableaux
-a -ae
antenna antennas/antennae
formula formulas/formulae
nebula nebulas/nebulae
vertebra vertebras/vertebrae
vita vitae

Countable Determiners

Singular countables are determined by singular demonstrative pronouns (this/that), possessive pronouns, the indefinite article or agree with singular verbs. The indefinite article specifies classes of things/persons.

What a nice day!

It’s my car.

Plural countables may be determined by plural demonstrative pronouns (these/those) and the indefinite pronouns some, any, many, few. Some here means a number/few/pair of or only part of.

Any questions?


Due to polysemy uncountable nouns take on countability in limiting and professional (varieties) contexts.

Masses divide into items inside measurements, containers and packages like a piece/bit/slice/loaf/packet/handful/bar/kilo/bowl/can/tin/pot of + relevant material. In informal English drinks turn into plural countables when even meant in portions like a cup/glass/bottle/carton/jar/jug of.

What industries have you been in?

Can I have 3 cartons of orange juice?

2 green teas, please.


In countabilization some nouns change their meaning however.

wood – a wood

paper – a paper

iron – an iron

cloth – a cloth






Countables as part of common nouns. When they split up materials.