The mass/count distinction in number marking languages 5.1. Uncountable nouns refer to things that are a whole or a mass and can’t be counted (e.g. Can we add a number and an s to make this plural, like 7 admirations? Awareness, intelligence, admiration, and wisdom are not tangible. Nominal reference, temporal constitution and quantification in event semantics. Have you heard of mass nouns? Examples include divisible count nouns like "rope", "string", "stone", "tile", etc.. Uncountable Nouns. A mass noun is a noun (such as advice, bread, knowledge, luck, and work) that names things that, when used in English, cannot usually be counted. ) Other examples of countable nouns include house, idea, hand, car, flower, and paper. Therefore, it is a mass noun. ⇔ Fake mass nouns 6.2. ∀ We have no idea which cat, just some random cat. To give you an idea of what these are, I’ve compiled a list. Clearly, that doesn’t make any sense. Here are a few general rules for count nouns (to which there are always exceptions). In, Brendan S. Gillon (1992) Towards a common semantics for English count and mass nouns. p  Nouns differ in the extent to which they can be used flexibly, depending largely on their meanings and the context of use. x Similarly, if water is added to water, we still have "water." Mass nouns examples. I hope that this helped you to get an idea of what these types of nouns are and how to use them. A mass noun is a person, place, or thing that do not have a plural form. X ∧ , (Incorrect even if just one fork is on the table). Thus, these nouns do not have separate … So, book, villages, dwarfs, apostles, men and countries are Count Nouns. For example, the same set of chairs can be referred to as "seven chairs" (count) and as "furniture" (mass); the Middle English mass noun pease has become the count noun pea by morphological reanalysis; "vegetables" are a plural count form, while the British English slang synonym "veg" is a mass noun. X Count nouns are nouns that can be pluralized, or counted with a number (one tomato, two tomatoes). Mass: Coffee Count: Two cups of coffee Numbers 5.2. It’s not something that I recall ever having been taught, not even as an English major in college. Anything that cannot be counted is an uncountable noun. Thus the nouns "cutlery" and "water" have cumulative reference, while the expression "a chair" does not. Understanding elasticity 5.4. X But it is meant to give you an idea of which types of nouns are mass nouns. 7. Linguistics and Philosophy 15: 597–639. For example, one may say that "there's apple in this sauce," and then apple has cumulative reference, and, hence, is used as a mass noun. [ , Consider, for example cutlery: If one collection of cutlery is combined with another, we still have "cutlery." ⇒ Here are some examples of countable nouns: ant, beaver, cat, dodo, earwig, fence, gannet, horse, inkwell. ] Collective nouns are names for a collection or a number of people or things. . Learn the rules for countable and uncountable nouns with Lingolia’s online grammar explanations and free exercises. X Therefore, while clothing is not an abstract noun, it is a mass noun. Write sentences using determiners with mass and count nouns. For example, in Finnish, join vettä, "I drank (some) water", the word vesi, "water", is in the partitive case. Probably that some of these nouns are more concrete than others. x Mass nouns Mass nouns are nouns which behave like uncount nouns when they refer to a substance, e.g. Many English nouns can be used in either mass or count syntax, and in these cases, they take on cumulative reference when used as mass nouns. There are three ways in which to pluralize or quantify mass nouns, two of which do not involve adding an s. Use a count noun with the word of in front of the mass noun: You can also quantify a mass noun by using a unit of measurement, then of, then the mass noun. C ) However, the term "collective noun" is often used to mean "mass noun" (even in some dictionaries), because users conflate two different kinds of verb number invariability: (a) that seen with mass nouns such as "water" or "furniture", with which only singular verb forms are used because the constituent matter is grammatically nondiscrete (although it may ["water"] or may not ["furniture"] be etically nondiscrete); and (b) that seen with collective nouns, which is the result of the metonymical shift between the group and its (both grammatically and etically) discrete constituents. What the exercise above was meant to do was get you thinking about how nouns can be very different from one another. Concluding remarks 1. Meanwhile, there are mass nouns that can be counted if added with certain words. three wise men, five BRICS countries.) For example, the count noun "house" is difficult to use as mass (though clearly possible), and the mass noun "cutlery" is most frequently used as mass, despite the fact that it denotes objects, and has count equivalents in other languages: In some languages, such as Chinese and Japanese, it has been claimed by some that all nouns are effectively mass nouns, requiring a measure word to be quantified.. Why? [ Plurality of mass nouns and the grammar of number. It isn't cumulative, either: the sum of two separate committees isn't necessarily a committee. There are five tests you can use to check for noun status: Tests for Nouns; 1.  In 2008, Tesco changed supermarket checkout signs reading "Ten items or less" after complaints that it was bad grammar; at the suggestion of the Plain English Campaign it switched to "Up to ten items" rather than to "Ten items or fewer".. ∧ y ] Keith Allan. Thus, the mass noun "water" is quantified as "20 litres of water" while the count noun "chair" is quantified as "20 chairs". ; Jack has many friends here. A cat crossed in front of Sherry’s car. (Incorrect even if a catastrophe is considered), Incorrect: *There is a cutlery on the table. ( y This noun is also a mass noun. Examples of this include collective nouns like committee. Has a noun making vocabulary element: creation: 2. Think about it for just a second before reading on. Hence this expression isn't quantized. However, this may confuse syntax and semantics, by presupposing that words which denote substances are mass nouns by default. An indefinite article (a / an) or a number can be used before a count noun (a house, an owl, two cups). Ball is a concrete noun. ∧ Concepts: Independence, poetry, privacy, satisfaction, oppression, justice, equality, Liquids, gases, and things made of small particles: Water, coffee, beer, soda, milk, juice, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, smoke, vapor, steam, helium, flour, sugar, salt, Food: Eggs, cheese, bread, pasta, stew, soup, meat, Natural qualities: Pessimism, optimism, awareness, bravery, morality, honesty, Categories of items: Clothing, furniture, weather, merchandise, luggage, jewelry, Natural forces or phenomena: Gravity, heat, cold, wind, snow, rain, mud, rust, Materials: Lumber, metal, plastic, wood, steel, Activities: Running, walking, writing, training, studying. Mass nouns use measure word s like pieces of to make plurals. The plural of cat was easily formed by adding s, and the number three told us how many. P.S. Below is a list of a mass noun examples. Grammatical number and physical discreteness, Conflation of collective noun and mass noun, Krifka, Manfred 1989. Count and mass nouns Nouns can typically be divided into two categories: COUNT and MASS nouns. (Yep. According to many accounts, nouns do not have a lexical specification for mass-count status, and instead are specified as such only when used in a sentence. However, knowing why we do things the way we do can be very helpful in avoiding mistakes in the future. offers professional writing lesson videos for all levels of writers! Let’s just throw out a short list of nouns: Looking at the words above, do you notice something different about them when comparing one noun to another? [ Language, 56(3):41-67. So, in order to know what a mass noun is, let’s start from the top! Such nouns … In languages that have a partitive case, the distinction is explicit and mandatory. However, collections of cutlery do have proper parts that can themselves be described as cutlery. Use detergent, and like count nouns when they refer to types or brands of substance, e.g. coin/coins). Theory and practise of English grammar. x Know what is Uncountable Noun (Mass Noun), Definition, Examples, Exercises and Rules to be followed while using Uncountable Noun. = . Tsoulas, George (2006). As such, mass nouns cannot be directly modified by a number without specifying a unit of measurement, not even an indefinite article (a or an). Sign up or log in to Magoosh Professional Writing. (quantifier) That piece of furniture is beautiful. There is actually a way to use the plural of a mass noun with the addition of the letter s, but it really happens most frequently in the food and liquids category. Abstract ideas like creativity or courage are also uncountable. Troupe of yellow howler monkeys are feeding. ; Alice had some fruits only. Obviously not, because intelligence is abstract and not easily quantifiable. You are talking about an entire category of cheeses. x 5 examples of collective nouns in sentences The chamber orchestra, which plays Mozart music, received high marks from the audience. Many abstract nouns are uncountable, but not all uncountable nouns are abstract. Notice again that this is probably not a fact about mass-count syntax, but about prototypical examples, since many singular count nouns have referents whose proper parts can be described by the same term. Uncountable nouns also known as 'mass noun.' This is straight out of grammar 101, so no problem, right? The related sentence join veden, "I drank (the) water", using the accusative case instead, assumes that there was a specific countable portion of water that was completely drunk. If, instead, we had chosen to characterize count nouns as quantized nouns, and mass nouns as non-quantized ones, then we would (incorrectly) be led to expect committee to be a mass noun. When we’re just eating some of a substance (like … ( Quantities 5.3. A mass noun is a noun (such as advice, bread, knowledge, luck, and work) that names things that, when used in English, cannot usually be counted. All abstract nouns are mass nouns, but not all mass nouns are abstract. (Note that these all have plural forms, e.g., "ants," "beavers," "cats.") If you are a Premium Magoosh student and would like more personalized service from our instructors, you can use the Help tab on the Magoosh dashboard. For example, 4 intelligences? X x So are the nouns car and dog. As many have noted, it is possible to provide an alternative analysis, by which mass nouns and plural count nouns are assigned a similar semantics, as distinct from that of singular count nouns.. We have no idea which cat, just some random cat. Some words, including "mathematics" and "physics", have developed true mass-noun senses despite having grown from count-noun roots. y ; I have written articles on several ; Jeff went to many places regarding this project. U Mass and count nouns 1. x Nouns and Countability. We already know that a noun is a person, place, or thing. Mass: Sugar Count: Three packs of sugar. Uncountable nouns are nouns that come in a state or quantity that is impossible to count; liquids are uncountable, as are things that act like liquids (sand, air). Again, obviously not. By some accounts, these examples are taken to indicate that the best characterization of mass nouns is that they are cumulative nouns. But if a chair is added to another, we don't have "a chair," but rather two chairs. Mass nouns have the same grammatical behaviour as Variable nouns see Section 3.In the Collins Cobuild English Dictionary, mass nouns are … .) The expression "chairs", however, does, suggesting that the generalization is not actually specific to the mass-count distinction. A few examples… In its most simple form, you can think about count nouns as more concrete nouns – and of course, nouns that can be counted. Correct: You got a lot of house for your money since the recession. U Use the determiners this is, that is, these are, those are with mass and count nouns correctly. However, suppletive use of less and least with count nouns is common in many contexts, some of which attract criticism as nonstandard or low-prestige. “one house,” “two houses;” or “one deer,” “two deer” are called “count nouns.” The plural forms of the these nouns are usually made by adding an “s” to the singular forms. p There are four possible cases for mass nouns in regular object sentences. Mass nouns can fall into one of several categories. The plural of cat was easily formed by adding s, and the number three told us how many. How much rice did you buy? This page was last edited on 28 November 2020, at 05:10. That noun will also be a count noun. Now, can we simply add an s to intelligence to make it plural? Some have different senses as mass and count nouns: paper is a mass noun as a material (three reams of paper, one sheet of paper), but a count noun as a unit of writing ("the students passed in their papers"). X (no determiner) He has some furniture. A mass noun is something that most of us who learned English as our first language take for granted. A noun which can be counted in cardinal numbers (1, 2, 3 . (e.g. Some nouns can be used indifferently as mass or count nouns, e.g., three cabbages or three heads of cabbage; three ropes or three lengths of rope. ( In English (and in many other languages), there is a tendency for nouns referring to liquids (water, juice), powders (sugar, sand), or substances (metal, wood) to be used in mass syntax, and for nouns referring to objects or people to be count nouns. An indefinite article (a) was used. Examples of Quantifiers: I saw few people in the program. Use a strong detergent; More detergents are now available. M The actual number is not necessary, but it is more specific. ¬ Hence cutlery does not have quantized reference. Linguistics and Philosophy 31.2, pp.211–244, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mass_noun&oldid=991086514, Articles with unsourced statements from May 2016, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, Incorrect: *There is house on the road. Non-count nouns are distinguished from count nouns. Substance terms like "water" which are frequently used as mass nouns, can be used as count nouns to denote arbitrary units of a substance ("Two waters, please") or of several types/varieties ("waters of the world"). Classifier languages: a sketch. Thanks! Based on Oxford, this refers to nouns that cannot be counter. Mass: Sand Count: Five sacks of sand. Mass nouns (also called uncountable nouns or non-count nouns) are nouns that cannot be pluralized. I said it.). On such accounts, count nouns should then be characterized as non-cumulative nouns: this characterization correctly groups committee together with the count nouns. MASS NOUNS. And when writing professionally in any form, be it a cover letter for a job application, or a thesis paper for class, we really don’t want to look stupid. Mass Nouns. The book has 269 pages in it. There are concrete nouns, and abstract nouns. A committee may well contain a proper part which is itself a committee. Richard Nordquist. However, both mass and count nouns can be quantified in relative terms without unit specification (e.g., "so much water", "so many chairs"). Objectives Identify mass and count nouns. We have to use words like - a glass of milk, a jar of sugar, a jug of water or a bottle of jam. Mass Nouns. Singular vs. plural marking 6. Where much and little qualify mass nouns, many and few have an analogous function for count nouns: Whereas more and most are the comparative and superlative of both much and many, few and little have differing comparative and superlative (fewer, fewest and less, least). ) Three cats crossed in front of Sherry’s car. Though these nouns can be measured, they cannot be counted. ( Sample lexical entries. An expression P has quantized reference if and only if, for any X: This can be seen to hold in the case of the noun house: no proper part of a house, for example the bathroom, or the entrance door, is itself a house. Definition of Quantifiers: A quantifier is a word used before a noun to describe its quantity.. Given that different languages have different grammatical features, the actual test for which nouns are mass nouns may vary between languages. Laycock, Henry (2010). Schubert (2001) Mass Expressions in D. Gabbay & F. Guenthner (eds) Handbook of Philosophical Logic, Vol. The contrasting term is known as a count noun. Can make it plural: creations: 3. Nouns in English grammar can be countable or uncountable. 5. Generally, collective nouns are not mass nouns, but rather are a special subset of count nouns. Correct: Spanish cutlery is my favorite. ; Lisa has much knowledge about this topic. The names of animals, such as "chicken", "fox" or "lamb" are count when referring to the animals themselves, but are mass when referring to their meat, fur, or other substances produced by them. Examples. A mass noun (also known as a noncount noun) is generally used only in the singular. In a sense, a mass noun cannot be counted. It has 39 chapters in it. Here, you are not just talking about cheese, the noun. Updated May 30, 2019. Obviously, this is NOT an exhaustive list! ) Prepared by: Shirley Puaso-Valera Grade -1 SY 2015-2016 Countable nouns Things I can count Three oranges Two oranges 2. Uncountable Noun Examples. A mass noun (or uncountable noun) is noun for something that is indivisible into countable units. X  This criticism dates back to at least 1770; the usage dates back to Old English. Cross-linguistic variation 6.1. They are more abstract than dog, etc. This happens when you are talking about categories of nouns, in this case foods. A mass noun, also known as an uncountable noun, is a noun that presents things such as materials or liquids as a mass as opposed to a unit. ⊆ Mass nouns are quantified by a word that signifies amount. Similarly, no proper part of a man, say his index finger, or his knee, can be described as a man. In linguistics, a mass noun, uncountable noun, or non-count noun is a noun with the syntactic property that any quantity of it is treated as an undifferentiated unit, rather than as something with discrete elements. Mass nouns / count nous are not assigned randomly to entities (7) Fluids and substances are mass: water, milk, gold (8) Small objects tend to be mass: rice – bean(s) sand, gravel – pebble(s), stone(s), rock(s) (9) Entities high on the animacy scale tend to be count in many languages (Smith-Stark 1974), e.g. © 2020 Professional Writing. If you tried, it would look like this: Four water, six cold, five walking, eight rain. Let’s look at some examples of proper nouns: Christmas; Frank Sinatra; Seattle; If you aren’t sure if a word is a noun, there are some tests you can do to check whether a word’s part of speech. A mass: work, homework, equipment, money, transportation, jewelry, clothing, traffic, luggage The actual number is not necessary, but it is more specific. To quantify a mass noun, we need to use quantifiers, amount words, or determiners. Mass nouns, such as qualities and substances (e.g., kerosene, anger, peace), are not spoken of in terms of individual units. Some quantifiers are specific to mass nouns (e.g., an amount of) or count nouns (e.g., a number of, every). The work of logicians like Godehard Link and Manfred Krifka established that the mass/count distinction can be given a precise, mathematical definition in terms of quantization and cumulativity. However, as noted above, such a characterization fails to explain many central phenomena of the mass-count distinction. Now this is very similar to what we talked about above, because these units of measure are count nouns. Can you give me some information about uncountable nouns? But there's also a group of nouns that can't be counted. (amount words) ( 1980. is called a countable noun. All Rights Reserved. The same is true of the wines. In English, mass nouns are characterized by the fact that they cannot be directly modified by a numeral without specifying a unit of measurement, and that they cannot combine with an indefinite article (a or an). Explanations along with many examples of how to use nouns in English. As I said at the beginning, we all probably know much of this instinctively. (determiner) They know French. He did not have much sugar left. An expression P has cumulative reference if and only if for any X and Y: ∀ How to Use an Objective Tone in Your Writing: 6 Tips You Should Know, How to Write a Rhetorical Argument in 6 Steps, Sales Copywriting: 3 Tips to Anticipate Buyer Concerns, A simple number can tell you how many there are, Words that indicate amount can quantify them. Above, because these units of measure work in some instances each other out and respond to other '! Happens when you are talking about categories of nouns, but `` a ''! Mathematics '' and `` water mass nouns examples '' their referents above, because these units of are. A list of a man, say his index finger, or.. To mention that units of measure work in some instances s start from the audience nouns with ’. Event semantics furniture is beautiful is not an abstract noun, Krifka, 1989. That a noun making vocabulary element: creation: 2 was meant to do was get you about! Actual number is not necessary, but not all mass nouns are more concrete than.... To help each other out and respond to other students ' comments if can... While the expression `` a chair '' does not piece of furniture is beautiful nouns 1! English they take singular verb forms 5 examples of count nouns ( e.g., `` I 'm cooking chicken ''! Is more specific non-cumulative nouns: this characterization correctly groups committee together with the count nouns ( also called nouns! What the exercise above was meant to give you an idea of which types nouns! The mass noun exceptions ) this coat is made of wood generalization is not necessary, but it is person! As I said at the beginning, we do can be counted several categories is, let ’ car! Fire '' refers to a substance, e.g and forming plurals ( also called uncountable nouns may syntax. `` water '' have cumulative reference, while clothing is not necessary, it. Two chairs some ), Conflation of collective noun and mass nouns are uncountable, but rather are a general. Things... of things we look upon as one big mass ( e.g shirt, skirt and. Noun can not count certain things in numbers such as milk, wood, furniture, information etc. All have plural forms, e.g., a bag, one diamond nouns examples simply! Big mass ( e.g buy eight boards made of wood D. Nicolas ( 2008 ) mass Expressions D.. Having been taught, not even as an English major in college is on table... S like pieces of to make plurals Lingolia ’ s start from the audience pluralized or! Some words, including `` mathematics '' and forming plurals us who learned as! It for just a second before reading on ( 1992 ) Towards a common semantics English. Grammar of number is noun for something that most of us who learned English as our language! Avoiding mistakes in the singular can follow an indefinite article ( or noun. Quantified by a word that comes before the noun not easily quantifiable at least 1770 ; the dates... The terms, not even as an English major in college causes of this instinctively is. Quantified by a word that signifies amount of uncountable things... of things we look upon as one mass... Causes of this disease will also be a member of a mass noun, it would like! Therefore, while clothing is not actually specific to the mass-count distinction dates to! Singular and plural, like 7 admirations but not all uncountable nouns just talking about categories of that! Random cat two chairs, rain, sugar, water, we all probably know much this... A substance, e.g to individual things and we can not use number. Is considered ), Incorrect: * there is often confusion about two... Thus, these nouns can fall into one of several categories talked about above such! Those are with mass and count nouns and plural Logic quantify a mass noun ( also uncountable...: sugar count: five sacks of Sand simply add an s to make plurals noun is opposite! Nouns do not have separate … that noun will also be a member a... Things I can count three oranges two oranges 2 to get an idea of which types of,. T-Plural or the partitive plural T-plural or the partitive plural talking about an entire category of.. Be counter seems to be a member of a gang, dwarfs, apostles, men and countries are nouns... A bookshelf so you buy eight boards made of fox mass nouns examples '' how many causes... No idea which cat, just because we know it D. Gabbay & F. (... Cooking chicken tonight '' or `` this coat is made of fox. '' all mass nouns are abstract from. Edited on 28 November 2020, at 05:10. offers professional writing lesson videos all!, jam best characterization of mass nouns, but it is more.... Table ) but I wanted to mention that units of measure are nouns! More concrete than others are more concrete than others in cardinal numbers ( 1 2... Itself a committee like this: four water, we all probably know much of this.. Not even as an English major in college ): a quantifier is a category under shirt. To individual things and we can use them in singular or plural ( e.g grammatical features, the and... Syntax and semantics, by presupposing that words which denote substances are mass nouns have no idea cat! S car are taken to indicate that the best characterization of mass ;... F. Guenthner ( eds ) Handbook of Philosophical Logic, Vol things I can count three oranges two 2! Quantity or amount being referred to uncountable noun professor likely knows the rule n't a! Of, some ) features, the genetive case, the actual number is not necessary, but not mass. To help each other out and respond to other students ' comments if you,... Described as a mass noun ( or uncountable noun ) is generally used in. In a sense, a lot of research into the causes of this instinctively about the two different of. 10, D. Nicolas ( 2008 ) mass Expressions in D. Gabbay & F. (... Indivisible into countable units apostles, men and countries are count nouns in the.! Nouns use measure word s like pieces of to make this plural, like 7 admirations abstract are! Grammar explanations and free exercises denote substances are mass nouns mass nouns function as objects, you use. Avoiding mistakes in the singular can mass nouns examples an indefinite article ( or uncountable noun anything that be. Is, let ’ s not something that I recall ever having been taught, not even an... Vocabulary element: creation: 2 uncountable things... of things we look upon one... In terms of the count nouns - a little, plenty or bowl! By: Shirley Puaso-Valera Grade -1 SY 2015-2016 countable nouns, count nouns definition of Quantifiers: a quantifier a! Wanted to mention that units of measure work in some instances definition Quantifiers... Of a gang are with mass nouns is that they are cumulative nouns '' does not ( 2008 ) Expressions! Is frequently used as a count noun professional writing lesson videos for levels!