that riceCommon types or categories of Non-count nouns
1. Whole categories or groups made up of similar items or parts:
clothing, furniture, equipment, jewelry, luggage, food, fruit, garbage, hardware, junk, machinery, mail, makeup, money, scenery, stuff, traffic etc.
water, tea, milk, oil, soup, gasoline, blood etc.
ice, bread, butter, cheese, meat, gold, iron, silver, glass, paper, wood, cotton, wool etc.
steam, air, oxygen, nitrogen, smoke, smog, pollution etc.
rice, chalk, corn, dirt, dust, flour, grass, pepper, salt, sand, sugar, wheat etc.
6. Abstractions - abstract concepts that have no physical form:
beauty, confidence, courage, education, fun, happiness, health, intelligence, knowledge, laughter, luck, music, peace, sleep, truth, wealth, advice, information, news, evidence, time, space, energy, homework, work, grammar, vocabulary etc.
7. Natural Phenomena:
weather, sunshine, dew, fog, hail, humidity, lightening, rain, snow, thunder, wind, darkness, light, electricity, fire, gravity etc.
Arabic, Chinese, English, French. Japanese, Spanish etc.
9. Fields of Study:
chemistry, engineering, history, literature, mathematics, psychology etc.
baseball, soccer, tennis, chess, poker etc.
driving, studying, swimming, travelling, walking etc.
There are some nouns that can used as either Non-Count or Count nouns, but the meanings are different.
- There are two hairs in my soup. (Count)
- Jody has blonde hair. (Non-Count)
- I opened the curtains to let some light in. (Non-Count)
- There are two lights on in the living room. (Count)
Partitive Structures with Non-Count Nouns
We mentioned previously that you cannot use the articles "a" or "an" or a number (one, two, there etc.) directly before a Non-Count noun. However, we can use an alternative unit of measurement - a measure word to count or quantify Non-Count nouns. For example, we can cannot say "a rice" or "two rices" but we can combine the measure word "bowl" with "of" to say "a bowl of rice" or "two bowls of rice. We call this structure a partitive structure. There are several other measure words we can use, depending on the specific Non-Count noun. Below are several other commonly used Partitive structures:
- a cup of tea
- two items of clothing
- a piece of furniture
- a glass of water
- a teaspoon of sugar
- a game of tennis
- a bottle of milk
- a pinch of salt
- a bolt of lightening
- a piece of information
This is the second of many columns on English Grammar I will be publishing here on Cafetalk in the near future. Feel free to contact me at any time to discuss your English language needs. I teach not only English Grammar but also Business English, English Conversation, Listening and Reading skills, Vocabulary, Preparation for English Tests such as IELTs and can also tailor lessons specifically to your individual needs. I also offer a free introductory consultation to all prospective students, so please get in touch and let me help you achieve your goals in English language learning.