Unit 3: Uncountable nouns | Danh từ không đếm được trong tiếng Anh

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Vocabulary points to take away

Uncountable nouns have no plural form and are not used with the indefinite article a or an.

Can you give me some information about accommodation in the city?

There are three main types of uncountable nouns that students often think are countable:

  • activity nouns: travel, work, homework
  • information nouns: advice, information, knowledge, research
  • group nouns: accommodation, baggage, furniture, money, traffic, weather

Other nouns that are uncountable are:

  • liquids and gasses: water, air
  • materials and substances: wood, rice
  • feelings and ideas: happiness, education
  • subjects: geography, history, economics

A few uncountable nouns look plural because they end in -s. But they use a singular verb like other uncountable nouns:

Physics is a very interesting subject.


What is more important in life: knowledge, money or happiness? And what do those three words have in common?

Listen to the audio

Transcript

Neil
Yes, we are. So that’s nouns that you can’t count, like watermoney and research. We’ll show you plenty of examples…

Catherine
…and we’ll also bring you a top tip for recognising uncountable nouns.

Neil
But let’s start by listening to Colin. He’s a travel agent.

Catherine
While you listen, think about this question: what might you need from your bank before you go abroad? Here’s Colin.

INSERT
Colin
It’s time to start planning your summer travel! Do some research before you go. Are there good reviews of the accommodation? How much baggage can you take and what’s the best way to take money abroad? Do you need to get some advice from your bank? Will the traffic be bad on the way to the airport?

Neil
So that was Colin. We asked you: What might you need from your bank before you go abroad?

Catherine
And the answer is: You might need some advice.

Neil
That’s right: some advice. Advice means ideas and suggestions about what to do. Now, did you notice that advice is not plural? We never say advices in English because advice is an uncountable noun. You can’t make advice plural, like you can in some other languages.

Catherine
And with uncountable nouns, we don’t use articles a or an. We say some advice, not an advice. Now listen out for three more uncountable nouns in this clip.

INSERT
Colin
It’s time to start planning your summer travel! Do some research before you go. Are there good reviews of the accommodation?

Catherine
And the uncountable nouns in that clip were: travel, research and accommodation.

Neil
And activities like travel, work and homework are usually uncountable.

Catherine
Information words like research, information and advice are uncountable too.

Neil
Yes, they’re not usually plural in English, but we can add the words a piece of to lots of uncountable nouns if we like. So we can say a piece of information or two pieces of advice.  

Catherine
That’s right. The other uncountable noun in that clip was accommodation. Accommodation means ‘places to live or spend the night’, like rooms, flats and houses.

Neil
So accommodation describes the groups of places that you can stay like flats, houses, students halls of residence. And group words are often uncountable, so there’s no plural form. Fruit, food and weather are group words too. We don’t usually say fruitsfoods and weathers.

CatherineThat’s right. Now, let’s have another clip. Can you spot any more uncountable nouns?

INSERT CLIP 2
How much baggage can you take and what’s the best way to take money abroad? Will the traffic be bad on the way to the airport?

Catherine
And we had baggage, money and traffic. In some languages these words are often plural…

Neil
…but not in English. In English, they are all group words.

Catherine
That’s right. So baggage means a group of bags…

Neil
It’s money for coins or notes…

Catherine
And traffic for cars, lorries, buses.

STING

Neil
And we’re talking about uncountable nouns. We’ve seen that some activity nouns are uncountable, and some group nouns are uncountable. Shall we now talk about more types of uncountable nouns, Catherine?

Catherine
Go on then. So we’ve got liquids and gases. Water and air are uncountable.

Neil
Yes, they are. Materials and substances like wood and salt are uncountable too.

Catherine
Then there are words for feelings and ideas, so happiness and education

Neil
And also subjects like history and biology.

Catherine
That’s right. But be careful with subjects like physics or economics.

Neil
Yes, they end with the letter -s, so they look plural, but in fact they’re usually uncountable too.

Catherine
So we use them with a singular verb, just like other uncountable nouns. Physics is complicated…

Neil
…and Economics isn’t easy.

IDENT          
6 Minute Vocabulary from BBC Learning English

Catherine
And it’s quiz time! Number one: Is the word furniture countable or uncountable?

Neil
And the answer is – it’s uncountable. It’s a group word like baggage. It means things like tables and chairs.

Catherine
Very good. And number two: is this sentence correct or wrong? Please can you give me some informations?

Neil
That is not correct. Information is uncountable so it’s some information without an –s, not some informations.

Catherine.
Very good! And the last one: Which is correct: a) it was beautiful weather on Saturday. Or b) it was a beautiful weather on Saturday.

Neil
The answer’s a) it was beautiful weather on Saturday.

Catherine
And that’s the end of the quiz. Well done to you if you got them all right.  

Neil
But before we go, here’s a tip. When you see a noun, think carefully about whether it belongs to one of these types: activity words, information words or group words. If it does, then it’s probably uncountable.

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