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Lesson 1: Errors with Countable and

Uncountable Nouns
Hello students!

We’re going to start our course by learning about the most common grammar
mistakes.

Before we begin, I’d like to remind you that when we speak English, our grammar
is not always perfect (especially when it comes to sentence structure). The
grammar of spoken English is a little more “flexible” than what we expect in
written English. That means that usually people can understand you, even if
you’ve made a small mistake with a preposition or a verb tense.

I don’t want you to think that grammar mistakes are serious or disastrous, and I
definitely don’t want the fear of mistakes to prevent you from trying to use your
English.

Mistakes are nothing to be afraid of… but of course we do want to fix them or
avoid them - that’s why you’re taking this course!

Just remember: don’t be afraid of mistakes, and don’t let them stop you from
speaking. But let’s learn how to avoid the most common ones together. We’ll
begin with some common errors involving nouns and pronouns.

Error #1
Don’t say:
• I need some informations.

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• He gave me a lot of advices.
Say:
• I need some information.
• He gave me a lot of advice.

Information and advice are considered uncountable nouns, and they are never
plural.

In English, we have two types of nouns - countable nouns:


• one book, two books
• one person, ten people
• one picture, a hundred pictures

And we have uncountable nouns, which are often things we can’t count, or can’t
divide into individual parts. Here are some examples of uncountable nouns:

• Ideas and concepts: love, fun, sadness, work, money, peace, safety
• Information: advice, information, news, knowledge
• Categories: music, furniture, equipment, jewelry, literature, stuff, luggage
• Liquids/foods that can’t be counted as units: water, butter, rice, flour, milk

Uncountable nouns are NEVER plural, so it’s always incorrect to say advices,
equipments, informations, etc.

Some uncountable nouns - especially information, advice, news, furniture,


equipment, jewelry, and luggage - can be quantified by using the word “piece”:

• We bought two pieces of furniture - a bookcase and a dresser.


• She gave me three pieces of advice: study hard, have fun, and make
friends.

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There are some complications - for example, some nouns can be countable in
some situations and uncountable in others.

The word room is countable when referring to the specific places in a house,
apartment, hotel, etc. And it is uncountable when referring to space in general:
• Our house has five rooms: the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room,
and family room. (countable)
• I’ll make some room for these new books in the bookshelf. (uncountable)

If you want to see more examples of nouns that can be both countable and
uncountable, click here.

There’s also a big list of uncountable nouns, which also identifies the nouns that
can be both: https://ieltsliz.com/uncountable-nouns-word-list/

Error #2

Don’t say:
• How many equipment is in the factory?
• I have few knowledge in this area.
Say:
• How much equipment is in the factory?
• I have little knowledge in this area.

With uncountable nouns, we can use much, little, and amount of:
• How much stuff was stolen?
• I spent a little money at the store.
• The recipe calls for a small amount of butter.

With countable nouns, we can use many, few, and number of:

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• How many machines are in the factory?
• I’ve read a few books on this topic.
• The video was seen by a large number of people.

We can use some and a lot of / lots of with both:


• We bought some equipment / some machines.
• I’ve read a lot of books. / I have a lot of knowledge.
• He put lots of sugar in his coffee. / She ate lots of cookies.

Remember that a lot is always two words, never “alot.” That’s a simple mistake
that a lot of native English speakers make as well!

That’s all for today - now you can take a quiz to practice and review these two
mistakes and the correct way to say things. See you in the next lesson!

© Shayna Oliveira 2019


www.espressoenglish.net
Quiz – Lesson 1
Choose the correct word in each sentence:
1. I had a couple of egg/eggs for breakfast.
2. He won a lot of money/moneys in the lottery.
3. I have some idea/ideas for improving the program.
4. We listened to song/songs on the radio.
5. My mother gave me some jewelry/jewelries for my wedding.
6. She was hired because of her great knowledge/knowledges of the
industry.
7. The teacher assigned lots of homework/homeworks.
8. They made a few trip/trips to the beach during the summer.
9. We eat rice/rices every day of the week.
10. I learned a lot of interesting thing/things from the book.
11. A large amount/number of children were absent from school.
12. Add a few/little water to the pancake mix.
13. How many/much salt should I put in the soup?
14. I ate a few/little chips before dinner.
15. We don't have many/much pairs of shoes.
16. My friend gave me a few/little suggestions.
17. There's a limit to the amount/number of luggage you can bring on a plane.
18. We only get a small amount/number of snow in the winter.
19. I have so many/much stuff to do this week!
20. There are too many/much people on the bus.

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Answers – Quiz – Lesson 1
1. eggs
2. money
3. ideas
4. songs
5. jewelry
6. knowledge
7. homework
8. trips
9. rice
10. things
11. number
12. little
13. much
14. few
15. many
16. few
17. amount
18. amount
19. much
20. many

© Shayna Oliveira 2019


www.espressoenglish.net