Countable nouns in English

Countable nouns.

In English, there are two kinds of noun: countable nouns and uncountable nouns.
COUNTABLE NOUNS IN ENGLISH: are things that we can count and have both a singular and plural form.

one dog, two dogs

an apple, two apples

one boy and one girl, two boys and three girls

a film, several films

a man, a few men

one person, two people

this door, these doors

that house, those houses

The plural of countable nouns is generally indicated by adding ‘S’ to the end of word.

chair = chairs

flower = flowers

week = weeks

window = windows

Nouns that finish with a vowel + ‘Y’ (AY, EY, OY) take the ‘S’ to indicate the plural.

boy = boys

day = days

key = keys

play = plays

However, nouns that finish with a consonant + ‘Y’ (BY, KY, RY, DY, LY) take ‘IES’ to indicate the plural.
in this case the ‘Y’ is removed and replaced with an ‘I’

baby = babies

fairy = fairies

fly = flies

lady = ladies

sky = skies

For nouns that finish with a sibilant ‘S’, ‘SS’, ‘SH’, ‘CH’, ‘X’, ‘Z’ the plural is indicated with ‘ES’.

bus = buses

dish = dishes

church = churches

box = boxes

quiz = quizzes (N.B. double ‘Z’)

Most nouns that finish with ‘F’ / ‘FE’ take ‘S’.

cliff = cliffs

handkerchief = handkerchiefs

roof = roofs

safe = safes

However, some nouns that finish with ‘F’ / ‘FE’ take ‘VES’.

wife = wives

life = lives

knife = knives

thief = thieves

shelf = shelves

self = selves

half = halves

scarf = scarves

Wolf = wolves

We add ‘S’ to nouns that finish with ‘O’ if they are foreign words, musical words or words ending in 2 vowels.

piano = pianos

dynamo = dynamos

avocado = avocados

zoo = zoos

N.B. EXCEPTIONS ADD ‘ES’

echo = echoes

embargo = embargoes

tomato = tomatoes

potato = potatoes

hero = heroes

volcano = volcanoes

tornado = tornadoes

torpedo = torpedoes

veto = vetoes

domino = dominoes

Please note:

The final S is pronounced /s/ when it is preceded by an unvoiced consonant sound ( k, p, t, ck, ph, and unvoiced th /θ/ );

Books /s/ Cats /s/ Clocks /s/ Months /s/

it is pronounced /z/ when it is preceded by a voiced consonant sound (b, d, g, l, m, n, r, v and voiced th /ð/ and the vowel o)

Flags /z/ Roads /z/ Balls /z/ Goes /z/

It is pronounced /iz/ when the nuon finishes with s, ss, sh, ch, x, z, ce, se, ge

Buses /iz/ Churches /iz/ Faces /iz/ Judges /iz/

Some plurals are irregular.

man = men

woman = women

child = children

ox = oxen

person = people

tooth = teeth

goose = geese

foot = feet

louse = lice

mouse = mice

die = dice

penny = pence, Pennies (coins)

Many compound nouns that end with an irregular plural follow the same pattern.

policeman = policemen

business woman = business women

schoolchild = schoolchildren

country-mouse = country-mice

Some plurals are the same as the singluar and use both the plural and singular verb

sheep (is)

sheep (are)

deer (is)

deer (are)

species (is)

species (are)

Some nouns are always used in the plural form (they), do not have a singular form, and are used with the verb form used for the third person plural (are/have/were etc.).

police

jeans

pants

clothes

goods

glasses

shorts

scissors

cattle

Some plurals of Greek and latin origin.

bacterium = bacteria
criterion = criteria
curriculum = curricula
datum = data
genus = genera
medium = media
memorandum = memoranda
phenomenon = phenomena
stratum = strata

antenna = antennae/antennas
formula = formulae/formulas
larva = larvae
nebula = nebulae
vertebra = vertebrae
vita = vitae

alumnus = alumni
cactus = cacti/cactuses
focus = foci/focuses
fungus = fungi/funguses
nucleus = nuclei
radius = radii
stimulus = stimuli

axis = axes
analysis = analyses
basis = bases
crisis = crises
diagnosis = diagnoses
ellipsis = ellipses
hypothesis = hypotheses
oasis = oases
paralysis = paralyses
parenthesis = parentheses
synthesis = syntheses
synopsis = synopses
thesis = theses

appendix = appendices
index = indexes
matrix = matrices/matrixes

To ask about quantity we use ‘How many…?

How many people are there in the shop?

Uncountable nouns in English

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