Nouns in English are divided into countable and uncountable. In other words, those that we can count (an apple, a cat, a car, etc.), and those that cannot be counted (water, tee, sand, happiness, etc.).

For both these types of nouns, we need some defining words that help us to represent the volume or quantity more accurately.

Let’s look at the defining words for countable and uncountable nouns.

Only with uncountable nouns

With uncountable and countable nouns

Only with countable nouns

How much?

How much? / How many?

How many?

a little


a few

a bit (of)

not any

a number (of)

a great deal of

some (any)


a large amount of

a lot of

a large number (of)


plenty of

a great number (of)


lots of


In spite of the fact that countable nouns imply the possibility of calculating their amount, defining words can be used when speaking about them. Usually, they are necessary when we do not care about clear numbers.

For example:

There are ten apples in the fridge. (It is important for us to know how many apples)

There are some apples in the fridge. (But it does not matter to us how many are there)

We do not have such a choice with uncountable nouns - they need only defining words: some coffee, some sugar, a little money, a large amount of milk, etc.


Uncountable items can be counted if it comes to packages, containers, etc .:

a bottle of wine, three bottles of wine, a few bottles of wine, etc.

But in this case, we count a container, not an object.


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