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Centre for Learning and Study Support (CLaSS): Grammar Toolkit/Nouns

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How many are there? Single, plural and uncountable nouns

Nouns are words that refer to things. They can be singular or plural, countable or uncountable.

The singular is used when something cannot be counted (that is, the noun is ‘uncountable’) or there is one of something. The plural is used when there is more than one of something. Focused practice will form the habit of using the appropriate forms of the nouns in each of these cases.

Steps to structure your use of nouns

For each noun, consider:

1.The word. Is it countable or uncountable? Types of nouns that cannot be counted include liquids (e.g. water), abstract concepts (e.g. beauty) and processes (e.g. training). If unsure, a dictionary can help with this. Uncountable nouns only have a singular form.

2. The meaning. If the noun is countable, decide whether you wish to speak about one or more than one. If more, add an -s  or es to the word. E.g. chapter becomes chapters, watch becomes watches, box becomes boxes.

3. Agreement. English sentences require an agreement between the verb (the action) and the subject noun (that is, the noun that is doing the action).

For example, if the subject noun is singular, the rule of agreement requires you to add an –s or -es to verbs in the simple present tense. E.g. argue becomes argues, touch becomes touches, stress becomes stresses. For a small number of verbs, specific forms need to be used E.g. have becomes has.

Many scholars argue that…(plural=more than one scholar)
Jones et al. (2016) argue that...(plural=more than one scholar)
This scholar argues that…(singular=one scholar)
Johnson (2015) argues that...(singular=one scholar)

Noun checklist

Library Resources

Further resources



To download a PDF copy of the Noun checklist, please click the link below.