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English Language {SS2} – Nouns and Common Errors

English Language SS2 Third Term

Week  8


Structure: Nouns – Countable and Uncountable/Concrete and Abstract

Skill Focus: How to keep up with your English during the Holidays

Common errors

Structure: Nouns – Countable and Uncountable/Concrete and Abstract

Countable nouns  are nouns that can be counted (e.g. oranges).  So how do we know whether or not a noun is countable or uncountable? A countable noun is a noun with both a singular and a plural form.

Singular Form Plural Form
car cars
coin coins
broom brooms
baby babies
man men
onion onions
stadium stadia
table tables

Countable nouns attract the question how many.

The noun is countable:

if we can use the indefinite article a/an before it.

  • I have a ball. / I have an umbrella.

if we can use the word ‘many‘ (and notmuch‘) to describe it.

  • She has many novels. (It’s wrong to say: She has much novels.)

if we can express its quantity by using a number before it.

  • I have twelve hand bands.

if it takes on singular as well as plural forms.

  • an orange / some oranges / fifty oranges
 Uncountable nouns (also known mass nouns) are amounts of something which we cannot count (e.g. sand).
A non-countable noun is a noun without a plural form. Non-countable nouns refer to things that cannot be counted. Look at these examples:
Non-countable Noun Plural
music four musics
furniture two furnitures
tennis three tennises
mercury five mercuries

Uncountable nouns attract the question how much.

Examples of Non-countable Nouns

Category Example
Concept bravery, honesty, information, intelligence, patience
Activity homework, playing, reading, sleeping
Food bread, butter, cheese, fish, milk
Gas air, helium, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, smoke
Liquid coffee, petrol, water, wine, beer
Material chalk, cloth, concrete, lumber, wood, metal
Item Category clothing, furniture, luggage, mail, money, software
Natural Phenomenon gravity, heat, humidity, rain, snow, sunshine, thunder
Particles dust, flour, rice, salt, sugar, sand

The noun is uncountable:

if a/an is not normally used in front of it.

  • He is eating some beans. (NOT: He is eating a beans.) Beans is treated as not countable, so some (which can be used for both countable and uncountable nouns) is used with it.

if the word much can be correctly used with it.

  • How much rice have you eaten? (NOT: How many rice have you eaten?)

if it is not possible for us to count it. However, we can make it countable by having a quantity for it.

  • I have just bought two  litres of petrol. (NOT: I have just bought two petrol.)

if it takes only a singular form.

  • some ice (NOT: some ices) / some ink (NOT: some inks) / some soup (NOT: some soups)
 Some nouns can be countable or uncountable. It depends on how they are used.


  • I boiled an egg. (Countable noun)
  • I like egg. (Uncountable noun, as it refers to egg in general.)

Countable and Uncountable Nouns are used with the following:

Countable Noun Uncountable Noun
a, an, a few, several, many, a little, much, some, plenty of,
some, plenty of, a lot of, a lot of, a large amount of,
a large number of a great deal of

Concrete Nouns

A concrete noun represents something that can be seen, touched, tasted, heard, or smelt. In other words, a concrete noun will denote something that you can perceive with one of your senses.

Examples: Box, Spoon, Chair, Apple, Cat e.t.c.

Abstract Nouns

An abstract noun is a word which names something that you cannot see, hear, touch, smell, or taste.

It is the opposite of a concrete noun.


  • consideration
  • belief
  • motivation
  • hope

It is not always easy to spot an abstract noun. For example, lots of people claim laughter is an abstract noun, but this is hotly contested by others which claim laughter can be heard, making it a concrete noun.

We would agree that laughter is a concrete noun, but what about work and result? It is possible to make cases for these being concrete nouns too, but many would consider them to be abstract. Be aware that the distinction between abstract noun and concrete noun is sometimes blurry.

Examples of Abstract Nouns

Communication, Compassion, Courage, Culture, Curiosity, Deceit, Dedication, Democracy, Determination, Energy, Failure, Faith, Fear, Freedom, Friendship, Generosity, Gossip, Happiness, Hate, Honesty, Hope, Imagination, Information, Integrity, Intelligence, Joy, Justice, Justice, Kindness, Knowledge, Liberty, Life, Love, Loyalty, Luxury, Misery.

Skill Focus: How to keep up with your English during the Holidays

During the holidays, so many students play around and totally forget how to speak good English, they resume back to school and end up struggling with English language. The English language is permanently evolving and developing constantly as new words are created or adopted from other languages. New expressions and words are coined and existing words change their meanings as society, culture and technology progresses.  Words also become fashionable to use and like clothes go in and out of fashion. Keeping up with all the changes can be fun but challenging. Here are ways you can keep up with your English while enjoying the holidays.

  1. Oral Practice – The best way of keeping up with your English is by practising it often, talking to those you know who speak  good English is one way of improving your own. Don’t always engage in speaking vernacular language because you are not in school or because its the holiday season and you feel that you can do anything you want. Practising with your friends (while gisting) who speak well is also another way of improving your knowledge of English. Try to improve on your English and move with people who would help improve your English. 
  2. Reading Widely– WASSCE examiners often remark that they can tell who the best candidates are : they are clearly those whose use of language has improved because they have developed the habit of reading widely. So keep reading!!! Do not neglect your books totally because you are on Holiday. Use your leisure time to read, read stories, literature novels, newspapers e.t.c. Read publications meant for teenagers. Often new, hip words appear first in print dedicated to young audiences. As their usage becomes more established, the words will appear in more generally targeted media. Check out magazines or internet sites on topics which interest you and have a focus toward young readers. Read technology-related stories and publications. A large number of new words start as words to describe a new technology or capability. Staying abreast of trends and developments in the areas of computers, electronics, and science will keep your English on the cutting edge 
  3. Poetry – Looking at some of the poems in your English text and how interesting they are, you would be forgiven for doubting the idea that poetry is supposed to be enjoyable. It is true that many poems are very difficult to understand and that their potential for enjoyment is limited. Indeed, this applies to many of the poems on the literature syllabus. We urge you to see poetry as a source of enjoyment. In the holidays, why not look at some poetry anthologies, and find a poem you really like – and bring it to the next school term for others to share your enjoyment. Why not try writing a poem or two yourself? Any incident, large or small – a kolanut, meeting a friend, an accident, starting or ending a relationship – can trigger a poem.
  4. Visit Dictionary Sites or Check Your Dictionary –  Today, many students have internet enabled phones which can be used to browse the internet or check meaning s of words. Most dictionary sites include sections addressing words which were recently added to the dictionary. Check out Internet sites to track new words. Use search terms like “new English words” or “new words” to find words being added to the English language. Also if someone speaks a word you don’t understand or you have never heard of before, get a dictionary and check for the meaning of this word, this way you would have learnt something new.
  5. Take English Quiz – Take English tests and quizzes. They can be fun and can also improve you. These tests can be found on the internet or in text books.

Common Errors

These verbs are frequently misused.

Request: Do not use ‘for’ after the verb request.

Example: She requested them to stop drinking

Make: The pattern after ‘make’ is object + infinitive, without to.

Example: She made them stop talking

Enable: The pattern is object + to + infinitive

Example: The flight enabled them to get to Lagos early.

Choose the best answer to the following.

1. The hotel receptionist ___ that the airport  bus was leaving.

a. tod to us

b. told us

c. told

d. please told us

2. The driver asked ___ our luggage in the boot of the coach

a. to bring them

b. they to put

c. them to put

d. that to put

3. A stewardess requested ___ our tickets

a. us that we should produce

b. please to produce

c. us to produce

d. that we should produce

4. At the airport, we were ordered ___ our luggage immediately at the counter

a. weighing

b. weigh in

c. to weigh in

d. us that we should weigh in

5. The official there advised ___ our hand luggage with us

a. to keep

b. that to keep

c. us to keep

d. us that to keep

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