Singular/Plural with UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS

Singular/Plural with UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS

Some of the uncountable nouns are:

1. advice 9. dust 17. grass 25. machinery
2. baggage 10. drapery 18. hair 26. mischief
3. breakage 11. electricity 19. information 27. percentage
4. bread 12. equipment 20. iron 28. poetry
5. chalk 13. evidence 21. imagery 29. postage
6. confectionery 14. food 22. jewellery 30. pottery
7. crockery 15. furniture 23. knowledge 31. paper
8. dirt 16. glass 24. luggage 32. rubbish
33. stationery 34. scenery 35. stone 36. traffic
37. wood 38. work 39. wastage 40. news

1. Uncountable nouns are always singular and therefore take singular verbs. They are not used with A/AN, FEW, MANY, NUMBER OF; e.g.

INCORRECT: She doesn’t want an advice or help.
CORRECT: She doesn’t want advice or help.

INORRECT: She has had an experience in this type of work.
CORRECT: She has had experience in this type of work.

INCORRECT: What is a poetry?
CORRECT: What is poetry?

INCORRECT: The sceneries of Kashmir is beautiful.
CORRECT: The scenery of Kashmir is beautiful.

INCORRECT: The wall is made of a stone.
CORRECT: The wall is made of stone.

NOTE-IThese nouns in singular use take SOME, ANY, NO, A LITTLE, etc. or nouns such as ‘BIT, PIECE, SLICE etc. + OF’; e.g.

a bit of news a pot of jam a pane of glass a drop of oil
a grain of sand a cake of soap a sheet of paper a piece of advice

a) They gave some information.
b) She doesn’t want any advice or help.
c) She has had no experience in this type of work.
d) She gave me an important piece of information in the morning.

NOTE-II: Plurals of such nouns are made by adding BITS OF, ITEMS OF, ARTICLES OF, PIECES OF, KINDS OF, FITS OF etc.; e.g.

pieces/items of furniture blades of grass pieces/blocks of ice
pieces/bits of advice pieces of music piles of rubbish
specs of dust flashes of lightening fits of anger
bars of chocolate pieces of luggage
pieces/kinds of information articles of dress

a) Give me two slices of bread.
b) He showed me some items of jewellery.
c) Many kinds of furniture are sold here in our shop.

2. Some of the uncountable nouns can be used in a particular sense and are then countable and can take A/AN in the singular; e.g.

A) hair (all the hair on one’s head or any other part of the body, etc.) is considered uncountable, but if we consider each hair separately we say one hair, two hairs, ten hairs, etc.; e.g.

i) Her hair is not black. (means all the hair)
ii) Some of her hair is black. (means all the hair)
iii) She is brushing her hair rightnow. (means all the hair)
iv) Whenever she finds a white hair she pulls it out.
v) There is a hair in the tea.
vi) Several of her hairs are white.

B) EXPERIENCE meaning ‘something which happened to someone’ is countable; e.g.

i) I had an exciting experience yesterday. (EXPERIENCE = adventure)
ii) I had some exciting experiences yesterday. (EXPERIENCE = adventures)

C) The noun WORK meaning ‘occupation/job/engagement’ is an uncountable noun and is only used in the singular. As in this sense it’s uncountable it’s not preceded by A/ANg.

i) He is looking for work these days. (here WORK = employment)
ii) She has urgent work today. (here WORK = engagement)
iii) What type of work do you do? (here WORK = occupation)
iv) I am fond of hard work. (here WORK = labour)

NOTE: But the noun WORK when refers to FACTORY, or MOVING PARTS OF A MACHINE, or MUSICAL/LITERARY COMPOSITIONS, we use it in plural and add ( s ) to make its form plural.

Shakespeare’s complete works.

[But roadworks means ‘repair of roads’.]

3. Some of the uncountable nouns look plural but in fact are singular.

Some of such nouns are:                                                 

1. economics 4. draughts 7. measles 10. mathematics
2. ethics 5. billiards 8. mumps 11. phonetics
3. darts 6. linguists (When it means ‘scientific study of language’) 9. news 12. politics
13. statistics 14. rickets

i) The news is really good.
ii) All the news was false.
iii) Most of the news is not good.
iv) Measles is an infectious disease.
v) Diabetes is not as serious as cancer.
vi) Billiards is played by women also.
vii) Let’s play a game of draughts.

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Maha Gupta

Maha Gupta

Founder of www.examscomp.com and guiding aspirants on SSC exam affairs since 2010 when objective pattern of exams was introduced first in SSC. Also the author of the following books:

1. Maha English Grammar (for Competitive Exams)
2. Maha English Practice Sets (for Competitive Exams)

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