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Noncount nouns

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Although noncount nouns are not as common, you will see many of them on the TOEFL. Noncount nouns are nouns that are not distinct and individual. That is, they need to be contained by something (by a count noun) before they can be counted. As we saw in the introduction to count nouns, we cannot say “two coffees.” Coffee is noncount, so in order to count it, we must add the expression “a cup of...” or “a pound of...”, etc.

Noncount nouns have no definite shape or contain many small parts that are considered as a group. Please notice that abstract concepts are generally noncount (though we saw a few count examples earlier). Let’s look at a list of common noncount nouns.

Sample Usage

Foods and Liquids that come in many different shapes
Bread------------ a piece of bread---------- a loaf of bread
oil-------------- a container of oil---------- some oil

Natural material, or material to build with
wood------------ a piece of wood---------- ten pieces of wood
concrete-----------a slab of concrete------- too much concrete.

Things that come in different shapes and sizes
Luggage--------- a piece of luggage------- lots of luggage
Clothing--------- an item of clothing------- some clothing

Abstract concepts
Advice----------- a piece of advice---------- some advice
Teaching-------- a little teaching----------- some teaching

Although not a comprehensive list, you get the idea. Again, as a general rule, if a noun does not have a definite and identifiable shape, it is a noncount noun. Let’s look at some rules for the proper use of these nouns.

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Previous Resource: Rules of using a count noun

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