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Hi everybody, my name is Alisha. Today I'm going to talk about uncountable nouns. I'm going to talk about a few points related to uncountable nouns and some words we can use with uncountable nouns, I'm going to talk about the ways we can use units to count parts of uncountable nouns, and I'm going to talk about some quantifiers and some questions which we can use with this grammar point. So let's get started.
Okay, so the first point here about uncountable nouns. Uncountable nouns are nouns we cannot count, so countable means able to count, this prefix, un-, means not, the negative, so not countable. Nouns we cannot count, we cannot use one two or three to count numbers of these nouns. With uncountable nouns, we can use some determiners. So determiners are, for example, "a" or "an" or "the," "this," "that," "my," "his," and so on. With uncountable nouns, we can use, for example, "this" and "that" and we can use possessives like "my," "his," "her," "our" and so on. However, we cannot use "a" or "an" with uncountable nouns, this is because "a" and "an" are used for the singular forms of nouns and we don't have a singular or plural form necessarily for uncountable nouns so we cannot use "a" or "an" because these two articles are used for singular forms, so please be careful of this. Some determiners like "this" and "that" are fine, and possessives are okay, but not "a" or "an."
Okay, also, when you want to make a general statement, you should use no determiner, no determiner, so no "this," no "that," no "the," or whatever, unless you want to make a statement, a general statement, about a specific group or a specific object, a specific mass entity, for example; we'll talk a little bit about this later.
Okay, so let's take a look at some common uncountable nouns then. I've also included here, though, their units. So by units, I mean ways to count the parts of these, so we cannot count these nouns because they're sort of, they're thought of as like a mass, they're thought of as kind of a group, or yeah, a group or an assembly of many many different parts, so we don't count the the group itself, the mass itself. However, we can count the parts within that group, so let's take a look at the first example, maybe the most important one — time.
So "time" is an uncountable noun, we don't count one time, two times, or three times, we don't do that, however, we count parts of time, measurements of time. So for example, all of these are countable nouns, seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, decades, millennia, these are all the countable nouns we use to count the parts of time. We cannot count time, we can count the parts of time only.
Let's look at one more example — money. So money, we cannot count money, one money, two money, three money, we don't do that; instead, we count the parts, for example, cents, dollars, yen, pounds, euro, pesos, for example. We use the currency, the type of money, and the denominations, the pieces or the parts within that currency to count. So we cannot count money, but we can count the type of money, we can count currency amounts.
Okay, another couple that are fairly common are beer and wine, so drinks, for example, we don't count beer necessarily as a group, we can say one beer to refer to one drink of beer, we can say that, however, but in general, for liquid, when you see a lot of liquid, we don't say one beer, two beer, instead, we count it by the serving. So for example, with beer, we use glasses, pints, half pints, mugs, kegs, growlers, these are a few ways that we can count beer, these are all countable nouns. A similar rule applies to wine, we don't say, really, one wine, two wines, we can use that to mean one single drink but there are sometimes different ways that we need to explain one, so we use these words, glasses, or bottles, or decanters, so we use decanter of wine, bottle of wine, in these cases, not one wine or two wines. Make sure to say, like, bottle or decanter to refer specifically to the type of measurement you mean.
Another very common example is clothes. So clothes is kind of a category of items, it's a type of item, there are many different kinds of clothes, so we count, for example, shirts, sweaters, socks, shoes, hats, pairs of pants, we don't say one clothes, two clothes, three clothes, instead, we count these smaller items inside the category of clothes.
Okay, just a couple more examples. Food is another very very big one. So food itself, we don't really say one food, two food, three food; instead, we count inside food, for example, snacks, drinks, salads, appetizers, pizzas, breadsticks, cakes, whatever. So the the food, the dish itself, we count the dish but not food as a category.
Finally, air is another one, we don't count air with numbers, we can count parts of air but if you want to know we can use, for example, molecules to talk about components pieces of air if you like.
So these are just a few examples of uncountable nouns and some of the units we can use to count the parts within those uncountable nouns. Okay, next, let's head over to how to make a few questions. So similar to countable nouns, we can use uncountable nouns to make information questions, to make requests, to make offers. But one key point here is when you're asking a quantity question with an uncountable noun, you need to use "much." So when you're using a countable noun and you should use "how many" plus the plural form; if you're using an uncountable noun, you need to use "how much" plus your noun. How much time, how much money, how much beer, for example. There's no -s added at the end, there's no plural form that we need to think about, just the uncountable noun and any other information.
How much beer did you drink? How much time do you have, for example. So, please use "much" when you're making a question with an uncountable noun.
Second, "do you," plus a verb, "any," plus your uncountable noun. So we can change this verb in the sentence depending on what we need, but this is a general information question, like, do you need any time? Or, do you need any new clothes, for example. So we just used the uncountable noun here at the end of this phrase to make an information question. Another common pattern would be a request, so, can I have some _____? Can I have some wine? Can I have some food? Of course, you can use a unit here if you like, if you want to be specific, but if you want to be general, like, Can I have some more time on this project? We can use an uncountable noun in this sentence pattern, as well. Of course, there are many different sentence patterns but these are a few questions that might be helpful for you.
Ok, let's look at the last thing for today — quantifiers. Quantifiers, so we use quantifiers to talk about amounts of nouns, in this case, I'm going to talk about some quantifiers we can use to talk about the amounts of uncountable nouns. So we can use, first, at the end of the spectrum here, at around like zero, I've kind of made a scale here from zero, like, no of something, there's no amount, there's zero of something, to a lot of something, 100 at the other end, I've made kind of a scale of a few quantifiers.
So here we can say, "no," I have no time.
We can use "don't" plus a verb plus "any," like, I don't have any time.
Also, it's over here at the zero part, we can say, I have "almost no" time, meaning very very little time, for example, so very little and almost no would go about here.
Here, we can say "not much," I have "not" in parentheses because you just need to use the naked form, I don't have "much" time, or I don't need "much" to drink, for example. So we can use "much" here, but we need to use a negative in this case.
We can also use "hardly any" with uncountable nouns, so, I have "hardly any" time to work on this project, or I have "hardly any" wine in my refrigerator, for example.
We can use "a bit of," I have "a bit of" beer to drink.
"A small amount," so I have "a small amount" of time this afternoon if you're free.
We have "a decent amount of," so, there's "a decent amount of" time this afternoon if that's better for you.
We can use "some" as well, some, again, is kind of vague, it's not so clear the quantity with some, but if you just want to refer to having some, have it making it available, you can use some, so, like we might say, I have "some" clothes I want to throw away.
We can use "lots of" and "a lot of." So, I drank "a lot of" beer last night, or I drank "a lot of" wine last night, might be a common sentence you can hear.
We can use "quite a lot of," quite a lot of, so, I have "quite a lot of" time this weekend, let's do something.
We have the casual "tons of" and "a bunch of," too. So, I have "tons of" time, or I have "a bunch of" new clothes to try on, for example.
And we can also use "all," all. So you could say, who drink "all" the beer, or someone took "all" my clothes, for example. We can use "all" with uncountable nouns, as well.
So again, these are just a few examples of some expressions you might hear with uncountable nouns. You'll see, too, as with countable nouns, we can use some of these as I've marked with the green star here, some of these are okay to use with countable nouns and uncountable nouns. So if you get stuck you can try to remember which ones are okay for both countable and uncountable nouns.
For example, "lots of" and "a lot of," "some" is good, "almost no" is pretty handy, pretty useful, as well.
Another point here I want to mention. This is a problem that many students have, is using "much" in positive statements of quantity. For example, I have much money, I have much time; we cannot use "much" in this way, we should use, I have a lot of time, I have quite a lot of time. "Much" is used with negatives, so I don't have much time, for example, I don't have much money. We can only use "much" for a quantity statement with a negative form, so please don't use "much" to make a positive statement about quantity, please be careful, this is a very common mistake.
Alright! Those are a few points I wanted to make about uncountable nouns today. Thanks very much for watching this episode, and I will see you again soon! Bye!