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ESL forum > Grammar and Linguistics > countable and uncountable    

countable and uncountable


countable and uncountable
While preparing my lessons I started to think about countable and uncountable nouns too much and I became confused.
Obviously apples are countable but what if somebody wants to buy half a kilo. Do we still ask them how many do you want? the "half a kilo" answer would not make sense but on the other hand we can �t ask how much with apples can we?

Another one is chips. It �s "how much chips do you want?" isn �t it? But it just doesn �t sound good to me, maybe beacuse of the plural ending. What do you think?

5 Mar 2012      


One, two , three apples : countable
A bag of, a pack of, a package of, a packet of ...  : uncountable.
Two bags, two packs, two kilos : countable
Works for apples, chips or whatever food you can count as a unit or in grams or kilos. 

5 Mar 2012     

United States

Chips are definitely countable, but I think you �re talking about an order of chips, which is also countable. How many orders of chips do you want?
Also, it makes sense to ask "How many apples?", even if the answer will be "half a kilo".

5 Mar 2012     

United States

I �m teaching my class countable and non-countable right now, so I understand. You certainly, as Bruce implies but doesn �t explicitly state, use units even with countable nouns. It doesn �t take away the "countability" of apples to put them in half kilos or pounds
However, many nouns can be used correctly either way. For example, you can say, "I �m going to the supermarket (or the butcher if you prefer). Do you want me to buy a chicken/some chicken?" If you say A chicken, you explicitly mean a whole bird (plucked and gutted, but not cut up). If you say SOME chicken, you mean chicken meat in some form: whole, whole cut up, all thighs, boneless breasts, ground, or even canned. This is also true for many fish, cake, pie, pizza, and watermelon, just to name a few examples.
We also use non-countable nouns as countables when we refer to varieties of the noun. For example, I like many juices: grapefruit, apple, orange, mixed vegetable (V8 in the USA), and grape to name a few. Juice itself is non-countable, but used like a count noun when talking about different sorts of juice.

6 Mar 2012