This English Lesson 43 explains countable and uncountable nouns how many or how much?
Review of countable and uncountable nouns
1/English Sentence Practice
Hello, mother. Have a seat, where is my sister? She is parking the car with her boyfriend Kevin.
There are hundreds of cars in this street and it is not easy to park. Susan, we need some more dishes for this evening.
There will be five of us after all. We’ve got some more dishes in the dining room cupboard.
And we have one, two, three, four, five chairs. I will set the table for five. Please put some bread on the table.
John’s sister and her boyfriend arrive. Susan has bought some new clothes and John’s Mother says to her that: “your jeans look great”.
Please get some paper napkins from the cupboard. Get enough for five people, one for each person.
Three women and two men, that’s five in all. That’s a few too many for our little table but we can manage with less room.
Did you bring any wine? It does not matter if you didn’t we have lots. We hardly ever touch the stuff.
We have many bottles left over from my birthday party.
Have you any news about your health problems John?
Yes, I have some news, I think it is overwork but I am going for a final check-up on Tuesday.
Cross our fingers and as soon as you have some news, phone us.
They all eat a lot and there is hardly any left over. Well many thanks, it was really nice.
There aren’t many nice restaurants around here. There are some. You mean there are a few, restaurants are countable.
- uncountable nouns
- to have a seat
- to park the car
- some more dishes
- for this evening.
- there will be five of us after all
- the dining room cupboard.
- to set the table
- put some bread on the table.
- to buy some new clothes
- your jeans look great.
- paper napkins
- from the cupboard
- get enough for five people
- one for each person.
- that’s five in all
- That’s a few too many
- for our little table
- to manage with less room.
- we have lots
- we hardly touch the stuff.
- left over
- from my birthday party.
- Have you any news
- health problems
- to have some news
- I think it is due to overwork
- to go for a checkup
- Cross our fingers
- as soon as you have some news
- there is hardly any left over.
- There aren’t many nice restaurants
- around here.
- There are some.
- You mean there are a few
- restaurants are countable.
How many or How much? & Review of countable and uncountable
When we are asking about the quantity or amount of something, we use “How many” or “How much” at the beginning of our question.
1/ We want to know the amount or quantity:
How many + countable noun
“How many” is followed by a plural countable noun
How many people attended?
How many times did you practise?
How many ingredients are needed?
2/ If what we are talking about is obvious, it is quite common to omit the noun in the question:
How many + no noun
How many were there?
How many attended?
How many were needed?
1/ We want to find out the price, quantity or amount of something.
How much + uncountable noun
“How much” is followed by a singular or plural noun + verb “to cost” / “to be” to know the price of something
How much is the jacket?
How much are the jackets?
How much are they?
How much did it cost?
How much will this all cost?
How much will this cost me?
2/ We want to know the quantity or amount of something:
How much + uncountable noun
How much time do we need to get there?
How much water do you drink per day?
How much money did they spend?
How much milk is left in the fridge?
3/ If what we are talking about is obvious, it is quite common to omit the noun in the question:
How much + no noun
How much do you need?
How much is it?
How much was said?
cf: revision of
Revision of “Many” or “much”?
countable and uncountable nouns
Let’s learn how to identify a countable and an uncountable noun!
Nouns can be put into different categories such as plural and singular, but also countable and uncountable.
Countable nouns = we can count them
They have a singular and a plural form.
“car” is a countable noun
cars, two cars…
The car is mine.
The cars are his.
Uncountable nouns = we can’t count them
They only have one form, the singular form. They do not have a plural form so they always use a singular verb. They cannot use the articles “a”, “an” or a number (one, two, three…) before them.
“butter” is an uncountable noun
butters (does not exist)
a butter (does not exist)
two butters (does not exist)
Countable nouns are very common (a sister, a classroom, a friend, a teacher…). So how can I recognise uncountable nouns?
Uncountable nouns are often:
- abstract ideas: love, beauty…
- liquids or gases: water, milk, air, coffee…
- materials: wood, gold, paper…
- food (certain foods generally cut into small parts): bread, cheese, pasta…
- made of smaller parts: sugar, rice…
- other: advice, work, news, furniture, information, luggage, money…
When we are talking about a large quantity we can use “lots of” or “a lot of” with both countable and uncountable nouns:
- “language” is a countable noun > I speak lots of languages. I speak a lot of languages. / I don’t speak lots of languages. I don’t speak a lot of languages.
- “coffee” is an uncountable noun > I drink lots of coffee. I drink a lot of coffee. / I don’t drink lots of coffee. I don’t drink a lot of coffee.
We can also use with countable and uncountable nouns with many and much with uncountable nouns, when talking about a large or small quantity (in a positive or a negative statement):
- “lesson” is a countable noun 1/ I have lots of English lessons. – I don’t have lots of English lessons. 2/ I have a lot of English lessons. – I don’t have a lot of English lessons. 3/ I have many English lessons. – I don’t have many English lessons.
- “work” is an uncountable noun > I have lots of work. I have a lot of work. > I have much work. / I don’t have lots of work. I don’t have a lot of work. I don’t have much work.
English Speaking Practice
Questions and Answers
How many people can fit into your car?
I think five.
How many gallons of petrol are there in your tank?
About eight, more or less.
Do we need to buy some bread?
Yes, we need to buy a few loaves.
How much time does it take?
It takes a few minutes.
How many minutes would you say?
I would say about 10 minutes.
How much time have we got?
We have plenty of time.
How much work can you do in one hour?
Not much, but a little.
How many tasks can you accomplish in the day?
Not many but I would say a few.
Have you got some sugar I could borrow?
How much sugar would you like?
Can I have a few teaspoonfuls?
Yes shall I put it in a cup.
Lesson 43 recap with Julia.
Exercises Lesson 43