Uncountable Nouns in English

Uncountable Nouns in EnglishUncountables as part of common nouns. How they’re determined and agree in number.

Uncountables are usually common nouns with usually singular agreement, something we can’t count. They generally have no grammatical ending, being concrete (animate/inanimate) or abstract. Uncountable nouns may be specified by the definite article.

I prefer rice.

Give me the food I prefer.

Singular Uncountables

Singular uncountables may be determined by singular demonstrative pronouns (this/that) and agree with singular verbs.

  • matters (materials, foods, liquids, gases)

bread, butter, sugar, tea, coffee, leather, paper, wood, silver, crystal, plastic, porcelain, metal, silver, water, air, bread, meat, butter, wine, flour, spaghetti, yoghurt, cheese, lemonade, oil, petrol, plasma, blood, carbon, steel, oak, rubber

  • activities (sports)

running, swimming, shopping, singing, gardening, football, tennis, snooker, squash, badminton

  • notions

news, travel, knowledge, information, education, weather, progress, intelligence, behavior, fun, research, advice, accommodation, beauty, hunger, poverty, freedom, justice, help, chaos, damage, luck, permission, scenery, work, love, hatred, joy, pleasure, strength, weakness, history, music, law, art, the Renaissance, the Reformation

  • things

London, the Mississippi, furniture, luggage, baggage, equipment, traffic, hair, rubbish, litter

  • languages

Russian, Greek, German, English

Uncountable liquids are pluralized by the indefinite article or numerals into drinks in containers – a cup/glass/bottle of.

Plural Uncountables

Plural uncountables end in –(e)s and may be determined by plural demonstrative pronouns (these/those) and the indefinite pronouns some, any, much, little. Some here means a certain amount of. These are collectives:

  • theories

tactics, politics, maths, physics, lyrics, economics, linguistics, optics, mechanics

  • games

darts, billiards, dominoes, socks

  • groups

police, clergy, gentry, cattle, poultry, the British Isles, the Azores, the Andes

Groups as collective uncountables are plural (denoting members separately) unless when generalizing.

The police react too slowly.

Plural games and theories (in –ics) are singular unless when personalizing them as qualities.

Phonetics is a branch of linguistics.

Her phonetics have become much better this term.








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