divendres, 6 de novembre de 2009

Countable and uncountable nouns (1)

In English, Catalan and Spanish, we can group nouns into countable nouns and uncountable ones. What do we mean by this? We consider a noun to be countable if you can count it – one dog, two dogs … However, many nouns cannot be counted. For example, we cannot have “two airs” or “two wines”. It is important to see the difference in English as it affects several aspects of the language.

Uncountable nouns only have one, singular, form – always "water", never "waters". Hence, any related verbs must also be singular:
There is water. Water has many properties.

However, countable nouns can use singular or plural forms:
There was a cat and there were two cows.
Also some words we use to define quantities are used with either uncountable nouns or countable ones, but not with both. Examples include much or many, a little or a few. For example:
I didn’t eat much rice or many apples. She has a little money and a few friends.

As a general rule, most nouns which are countable in Catalan are also countable in English, but there are some interesting differences which we shall look at in our next post...

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