Many nouns can be use as countable or uncountable nouns, usually with a difference in meaning.
- Did you hear a noise just now? (= a specific noise)
- I bought a paper to read. (= a news paper)
- There’s a hair in my soup! (= one single hair)
- You can stay with us. There is a spare room. (= a room in a house)
- I had some interesting experiences while I was traveling. (= things that happened to me)
- Enjoy your trip. Have a good time!
- I can’t work here. There’s too much noise. (not too many noises)
- I need some paper to write on. (= material for writing on)
- You’ve got very long hair. (not hairs) (= all the hair on you head)
- You can’t sit here. There isn’t any room. (= space)
- They offered me the job because I had a lot of experience. (not experiences)
- I can’t wait. I don’t have time.
Coffee/tea/juice/beer, etc. (drinks) are normally uncountable:
– I don’t like coffee very much.
But you can say a coffee (= a cup of coffee), two coffee (= two cups), etc.:
– Two coffees and an orange juice, please
The following nouns are usually uncountable:
You cannot use a/an with these nouns:
– I’m going to buy some bread. or … a loaf of bread.
– Enjoy your vacation! I hope you have good weather. (not a good weather)
These nouns are not usually plural (so we do not say “breads,” “furnitures,” etc.):
– Where are you going to put all your furniture? (not furnitures)
– Let me know if you need more information. (not informations)
News is uncountable, not plural:
– The news was very depressing. (not The news were)
Travel (noun) means traveling in general (uncountable). We do not say “a travel” to mean a trip:
– They spend a lot of money on travel.
– We had a very good trip. (not a good travel)
Compare these countable and uncountable nouns:
- I’m looking for a job.
- What a beautiful view!
- It’s a nice day today.
- We had a lot of bags and suitcases.
- These chairs are mine.
- That’s a good suggestion.
- I’m looking for work. (not a work)
- What beautiful scenery!
- It’s nice weather today.
- We had a lot of baggage/luggage.
- THis furniture is mine.
- That’s good advice.