Unit 4. Count nouns
- Count nouns have two forms, singular and plural.
- They can be used with numbers.
- Singular count nouns always take a determiner.
- Plural count nouns do not need a determiner.
- Singular count nouns take a singular verb and plural count nouns take a plural verb.
In English, some things are thought of as individual items that can be counted directly. The nouns which refer to these countable things are called count nouns. Most nouns in English are count nouns. See Unit 6 for information on uncount nouns.
1. Count nouns have two forms. The singular form refers to one thing or person.
… a book … … the teacher.
The plural form refers to more than one thing or person.
… books … … some teachers.
2. You add "-s" to form the plural of most nouns.
You add "-es" to nouns ending in "-ss", "-ch", "-s", "-sh", or "-x".
Some nouns ending in "-o" add "-s", and some add "-es".
Nouns ending in a consonant and "-y" change to "-ies".
Nouns ending in a vowel and "-y" add an "-s".
Some common nouns have irregular plurals.
WARNING: Some nouns that end in "-s" are uncount nouns, for example "athletics" and "physics". See Unit 6.
3. Count nouns can be used with numbers.
… one table … … two cats … … three hundred pounds.
4. Singular count nouns cannot be used alone, but always take a determiner such as "a", "another", "every", or "the".
We've killed a pig.
He was eating another apple.
She had read every book on the subject.
I parked the car over there.
5. Plural count nouns can be used with or without a determiner. They do not take a determiner when they refer to things or people in general.
Does the hotel have large rooms?
The film is not suitable for children.
Plural count nouns do take a determiner when they refer precisely to particular things or people.
Our computers are very expensive.
These cakes are delicious.
See Unit 11 for more information on determiners.
6. When a count noun is the subject of a verb, a singular count noun takes a singular verb.
My son likes playing football.
The address on the letter was wrong.
A plural count noun takes a plural verb.
Bigger cars cost more.
I thought more people were comming.
See also Unit 5 on collective nouns.