Cover Page ofThe Mayfield Handbook of Technical & Scientific Writing
Table of ContentsWriting TimelineHelpCredits

Section 11.1.1

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Nouns can be classified into two groups, countableand uncountable. Countable nouns typically occuras discrete units that can be counted, whereas uncountable nouns, also calledmass nouns, are typically substances or concepts.

Countable: electron, flask, joule

Uncountable: oxygen, heat, patriotism

Countable nouns can be made plural. Uncountable nounsare not used in the plural.

Countable: polar regions, transistors, earthquakes

Uncountable: carbon dioxide, infrared radiation, equipment

You can refer to discrete units of uncountable nouns by adding a counting word,such as a unit of measurement, or the general word piece.


a carbon dioxide; an equipment


a molecule of carbon dioxide; a piece of equipment

Although it is often easy to distinguish between countable and uncountable nouns,the distinction is not always obvious for all nouns. In addition, many nouns canbe used as either countable or uncountable elements, but with different meanings. For this reason, you may find it useful to consult a specialized dictionary when you are not sure whether aparticular noun is countable or uncountable or whether it has special meaningsin one category or the other.

Reference Link Text
## Countable and Uncountable Nouns ##
Reference Link Text

[ Home | Table of Contents| Writing Timeline | Index |Help | Credits]

Copyright ©2001 The McGraw-Hill Companies. Any use is subject to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. McGraw-Hill Higher Education is one of the many fine businesses of
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Corporate Link