Count and noncount nouns

Some common nouns are count (countable) nouns - like book. girl, problem; and others are noncount (mass) nouns. eg: rice, importance. The distinction is partly related to meaning, but is also very important grammatically, because the usage of determiners with them is different.

Count nouns must have a determiner (a, one, my, this . . . )in the singular, though this is not necessary in the plural. Noncount nouns do not need a determiner.

Exercise: Underline all the words that without further alteration can fit into the following sentences. If necessary, consult a good dictionary.

Example: Tom is always offering advice/assistance/idea/suggestion. [idea and suggestion are count nouns. We could say: He is always offering ideas, suggestions. But not *He is always offering ideal/suggestion.]

1 You shouldn't judge him on one achievement/failure/progress/success.
2 It was difficult for him to find career/employment/job/work.
3 His new job is something to do with
advertisement/advertising/publicity/ marketing.
4 Buy now - it's a real bargain/saving/savings/reduction.
5 There is a/an fortune/income/money/wealth to be made from computers these days.
6 I need a new clothes/clothing/suit/underwear.
7 Modern ammunition/arms/equipment/weapons/weaponry is sophisticated.
8 You'll have to get a leave/pass/permission/permit to get into the factory.
9 Did you have a good experience/fortune/luck/time while you were away?
10 One scene/scenery/view/countryside particularly stays in my mind.


Count and noncount usage

Many nouns have both count and noncount usage. Sometimes the difference is between unit meaning and more general meaning: a chicken = a bird; chicken = the meat from it. Sometimes there is a greater difference: a sight = something seen; sight = eyesight.

Exercise: Complete the pairs of sentences below, using the following words, once as a count and once as a noncount noun.

business - cheese - dinner - experience - glass - ice - life - noise - painting - paper - pleasure - worry

Use a dictionary to help you if necessary.

1 Where can I get A PAPER? I want to know what's happening. I also need PAPER to wrap up some parcels with.
2 Do you sell ............................ ? I mean, could you cut a piece so that I could replace a broken window? Also I'm hoping to find ........................... to replace one I broke when I was washing up.
3 Shopping in this huge store is quite ......................... . They sell everything, but some of the sales staff are very young and lack .......................... so they don't know where anything is.
4 Still. I find it...............................to shop here. I mean I don't exactly shop for ...................... , but I like the atmosphere.
5 I shall have to come back another day and go to the art department. Tom and Molly have asked for....................... as a wedding present. I don't think they like (modern)............................ much.
6 So it's ............................. to know what to choose. Silly. isn't it ? Choosing a picture shouldn't be a cause for ...............
7 Did you hear ............................ ? Of course, there's a lot of .................. , but I heard something that sounded like a bomb.
8 They did have a terrorist bomb go offhere some years ago, but they were open next day. ' ............................. as usual.' I''ve sometimes thought I'd like to start ............... but it must be a nightmare these days.
9 Oh. I must go to the food department. They sell (very special) .............. made from goat's milk, one I can't get in my local grocer's. You don't like ............... '? You don't know what you're missing.
10 And what am I going to cook for .................. this evening? I think something simple, because tomorrow we're going to ..................... organized by Bill Brown's family to celebrate his ninetieth birthday.
11 He's led (very active) ................ and climbed almost every mountain you can think of. But now. poor old chap, he can hardly walk. Still, that's .....................
12 Well, I think we've j ust time for the restaurant. I'm going to have . . . . . . . . . . . . . . What about you ? Are you going to have tea, or will you have your favourite gin and tonic with .................... ?


Proper nouns

Most names are complete in themselves, but sometimes the is an essential part of the name.
Find out about Scotland by inserting the wherever necessary.

Come to (1)............... spectacular Scotland for a perfect holiday! And first to (2) ......... Edinburgh, (3)......... Athens of (4) .............. North. Visit (5) ............. Edinburgh Castle, perched on its rock 443 feet above sea- level. Admire (6) ............... Scott Monument, a memorial to (7) ............. Scotland's most famous novelist, (8) .............. Sir Walter Scott. Wander down (9) ............... Royal Mile, a series of narrow streets linking the castle to (10) ............... Holyrood House, or (11) .................. Palace of (12) ................. Holyrood House, to give it its full name. Begun by (13) ................ King James IV of (14) .............. Scotland in 1501, but much restored in the eighteenth century, (15) ........... Holyrood House is where (16) ............. present Queen stays when she visits (17) ............... Scottish capital. Also not to be missed is (18) .............. Edinburgh New Town, which sounds like a modern housing estate, but actually dates from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. As a change from sightseeing, shop for souvenirs in (19)............ bustling Princes Street. Pamper yourself by dining in (20) .............. Hilton Hotel. Seep yourself in the atmosphere by reading that fine newspaper, (21) ............... Scotsman. If you're interested in art, (22) ........... National Gallery of (23) .............. Scotland is a must. There's also (24) ............. Royal Scottish Academy, which holds an annual exhibition of work by living artists. But the highlight of (25) ............... Edinburgh year is (26).................. Edinburgh International Festival held every year in (27) ................. August and September. But perhaps you want an away-from-it-all holiday. Then to you (28) ............. Highlands and Islands further north beckon. And how hard to choose! Heading north-west you could drive through (29) ........... Pass of (30)........... Glencoe, see (31) ......... Scotland's highest mountain, (32)............... Ben Nevis, and take (33)................ famous Road to (34) .............. Isles. Or you could travel by train along (35) ................. scenic West Highland line and cross to (36) ............. Isle of (37) ................Skye. Or you could take a boat to those remote islands, (38) ................ Outer Hebrides. Visitors with a taste for active sports will find them in (39) .............. Highlands. (40) .......... River Dee is famous for its salmon fishing; (41) ............... River Spey area is even more famous for its Scotch whisky. From the mountain resort of (42) ................. Aviemore, you can go skiing in winter in (43) ............... Cairngorms, which boast the highest restaurant in Britain. Another sight not to be missed in (44) ............ northern Scotland, is (45) ............... Great Glen (a glen is a mountain valley) stretching from (46) ............... Inverness on the east coast to (47).................. Fort William on the west. The Glen consists of a series of lochs (lakes) linked by (48) ............... Caledonian Canal, said to be the home of (49) .......... Loch Ness Monster, a vast prehistoric beast surviving in the deep remote waters of this loch. Some people doubt the very existence of this strange creature - others are certain that (50) ............. 'Nessie' is real.

Number and irregular plurals

Most count nouns form their plurals by adding -s or -es, but some have irregular plurals.

Exercise
Complete the following using the correct plural forms.
Example: I want a chocolate mouse.
Answer: We haven't any edible MICE. Sorry!

1 I want a Christmas card with a snowman on it.
I'm afraid we're out of cards with ....................
2 And I need some sort of bookshelf.
We have some good value wooden ............. at $49.99.
3 And where can I get a silk scarf and a pure linen handkerchief?
We have some beautiful silk .......... , but we only sell cotton ..............
4 And can you ask your food department to send me a large plaice ?
I don't think they've any ............. at all today.
5 Oh, and I need a dozen eggs - no, make it two ...............
6 And I want a story about spacecraft.
I'm afraid there's no demand for ................ about ..............
7 Oh, and I need a hundred pins.
We sell pins in packets of two ............ at 99p. You do seem to want some rather peculiar things.
8 Yes, well, that's the lot. I've only got about a pound in cash, but I suppose I can pay by credit card?
All this is rather a tall order! Give me a cheque for ninety-nine ............ 50p.

'Foreign' plurals

Complete the following. There may be alternative answers.

1 Is this the only series of children's books you stock?
No, we have several other SERIES for older children.
2 I'm buying another encyclopaedia.
How many ............. have you got now?
3 She's busy writing an index, and the appendix to her book.
She seems to spend more time writing ........................and ....................... than the actual books
4 This is a crisis.
Oh dear, your whole life is a series of ........................
5 He'll send you a memorandum.
He's always sending .................
6 Have you got a prospectus?
There are two ................. Which do you want ?
7 He needs a stimulus.
But he never reacts to any.................
8 What's your criterion for personal success?
I think different people have different ........................

Singular or plural nouns?

Some nouns ending in-s are not plural (eg:physics); but some nouns without -s are (people).

Collective nouns (eg: audience, committee, family, team) are singular nouns - they need a determiner such as a, the, this - but sometimes take a plural verb:This team have done well this season

Exercise:
Write out all the possible alternatives in the following.

1 Some/this/these folk don't/doesn't know how to spend its/their money.
Answers: Some folk don't know how to spend their money.
These folk don't know how to spend their money.
(folk is normally plural]

2 This/these belongings of John's was/were found in the cupboard.
3 This/these family need/needs help.
4 I paid CHF100 for this/these binoculars, but it/they isn't/aren't very good.
5 The police has/have a hard job to do.
6 What was/were the news on television last night?
7 There is/are a couple of people outside who/which want/wants to talk to you.
8 The Prime Minister's office has/have issued a statement.
9 The outskirts of the town is/are rather dull.
10 A majority of the strikers want/wants to return to work.
11 Our MP's majority was/were higher this time than last time.
12 Why is/are there remains of food on the table?
13 The public has/have a right to know what money is being spent in its/their name.

Genitive or of-construction

Exercise:
Use the information given to complete the sentences using a genitive. In some sentences you will have to use a noun derived from another word in the sentence.
Example: Henry behaved very badly, which upset all of us.
Answer: We were all upset by HENRY S BAD BEHAVIOUR.

1 My parents insisted on taking the dog on holiday. This caused problems.
There were problems because of (2) ................................................
2 My uncle says he was educated during the school holidays.
............................. , he says, took place in the school holidays.
3 My aunt has her initials on all her things.
....................................................... things have her initials on.
4 Bill has been omitted from the team. It is a great surprise to us all.
We are all surprised at .................................. ...........................
5 Bill has been very loyal to them. It impresses me.
I am impressed by .............................
6 My grandmother is always losing her spectacles, and expects us to find them.
We're always looking for ...................................
7 The people who advised my grandfather were not exactly helpful.
My ............................................................................
8 My mother is very disappointed - that's obvious.
............................ is obvious.




Make your own free website on Tripod.com