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Practice English Speaking&Listening with: 26. Count Nouns and Mass Nouns (Countable and Uncountable Nouns). English Grammar and Usage.

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there that you hear examples of quite

frequently see if you can spot it I was

surprised by the amount of people in

that room now if you didn't hear an

error there or if you heard one but

you're not quite sure why it's an error

then I have an answer for you what we

need to understand what the problem with

the sentence I was surprised by the

amount of people in the room is we need

to have the idea of count nouns and mass

nouns these are two different kinds of

nouns we can see the difference with an

example really fast

supposing you you come home or you go to

a stranger's house and you open the

refrigerator and you see that it's

filled with totally filled with these

from top to bottom it's filled with

these what you wouldn't say is this wow

that's a lot of butters you would say

that's a lot of butter

that's similarly to give the other

example if you reeled back from the

refrigerator and you wanted to I don't

know calm yourself and so you looking

around for some other object to relate

to and you see a desk and you open the

desk drawer and you see hundreds of

these things you would not say wow

that's a lot of pencil you would say

that's a lot of pencils and that's

because butter is what we call a mass

now we don't if we see a lot of these

things we don't say wow that's a lot of

butters we say that's a lot of butter

the noun just refers to the whole group

of the things as a mass and we're not

interested in any particular one of them

whereas this thing here this pencil we

we do count them we talked about six

pencils and seven pencils

two pencils but we don't talk about six

butters or seven butters or two butters

we can of course talk about sticks of

butter because stick like pencil

actually is a kind of stick a stick is a

count now okay

so what is a count now a count noun is a

noun that you can count that you can

make plural of you can either to do that

you can make plural so you can take you

can put a number in front of it you can

talk about five pencils or five cars or

five people or five children you can

just pick the number five but you can't

do that with things like butter or just

to give some other examples of mass

nouns often cooking things or in masses

like flour and rice but also rain or

snow or applause or guilt or lightning

we don't we don't talk about how many

applauses an actor received for example

we just say you received applause now

this brings us back to our error I was

surprised by the large amount of people

in the room and you can't say that

because there are some usage things some

usage questions that come up and in the

way we distinguish mass nouns and count

nouns so we don't say for example amount

of pencils we don't treat pencils as

mass nouns amount is a word that you use

with mass nouns you talk about an amount

of butter or flour or applause or guilt

or lighting but you talk about a number

of pencils or people or cars or cows

similarly you don't talk about having


less pencils than another person you

talk about having fewer pencils than

another person so fewer is used with

count nouns and less is used with mass

nouns so for example we talked about

having less butter or an actor receiving

less applause and another actor or

something like that

now the fewer and less this nation seems

to be under attack by certain unnamed

major retailers who set up express lanes

that say you know these lanes are for

people with less than ten items that's

not right it's fewer than ten items so

if you see somebody who retailer who is

not violating this this rule of usage

then I hope you will shop at that

retailer and not at retailers who abused

the language in such a way now there are

a few tiny little exceptions to the well

there are exceptions to this seemingly

that is you can't talk about having say

five butters if by that you mean say

lime butter pepper butter chili butter

I'm gonna stop there three butters three

different kinds of butter or you know

I'm suppose there are butters made from

kinds of non cow products so you might

have goat butter or like backside I

don't now I'm getting out of my area of

expertise but anyway you can have

multiple butters but it would have to

mean different kinds of butters the

other exception I could think of would

be if you were in a diner or something

and you might say to your your waiter I

we need some more butters here meaning

these things which I guess technically

you would call Pat's but that way you

might say that that that that is butters

similarly another little exception would

be you talk about something

in less than $10 now dollars that has an

S that's a plural and you might say well

that's a count noun so shouldn't it be

fewer than $10 but in things like price

you're not interested in the individual

dollar bills of those $10 you're not

interested in that you're interested in

the whole mass the the general price so

it is correct to say less than $10 but

that's the difference between mass nouns

and count nouns

The Description of 26. Count Nouns and Mass Nouns (Countable and Uncountable Nouns). English Grammar and Usage.