Unit 66. Countable nouns with a/an and some

Nouns can be countable or uncountable. For uncountable nouns see Unit 65. Countable nouns are, for example: dog umbrella job suggestion girl

Countable nouns are things we can count. We can make them plural: two dogs six jobs some girls many suggestions

Before singular countable nouns you can use a/an:

  • That’s a good suggestion. ? Do you need an umbrella?

    You cannot use singular countable nouns alone (without a/the/my, etc.):

  • I’m looking for a job. (not I’m looking for job)

  • Be careful of the dog. (not Be careful of dog)

  • I’ve got a headache. ? Would you like a cigarette? For a/an and the see Unit 67.

    We often use a/an + noun when we say what something/someone is, or what something / someone is like:

  • A dog is an animal.
  • Sue is a very nice person.

  • This is a really beautiful house.
  • Jack has a big nose.

  • What a nice dress!

    Remember to use a/an for jobs:

  • Tom’s mother is a doctor, (not Tom’s mother is doctor)

  • I wouldn’t like to be an English teacher.

    In sentences like these, we use plural countable nouns alone (not with some):

  • Tom’s parents are very nice people. (not some very nice people)
  • What awful shoes!
  • Dogs are animals.
  • Ann has blue eyes.
  • Are most of your friends students?

    We also use some with plural countable nouns. Some = a number of / a few of (but we don’t know or say exactly how many):

  • I’ve seen some good movies lately.
  • Some friends of mine are coming to stay for the weekend.

    Do not use some when you are talking about things in general:

  • I love bananas, (not some bananas)

    Sometimes you can use some or leave it out:

  • There are (some) eggs in the refrigerator if you’re hungry. For some and any see Unit 80.

    You have to use some when you mean some, but not all I not many, etc.

  • Some children learn very quickly, (but not all children)
  • Some police officers in Britain carry guns, but most of them don’t.

    For plural countable nouns see also Unit 70.

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