Here is a short list of noncount nouns.
The various Filipino languages create plurals by inserting the word mga; thus, the plural of software is mga software. Easy-peasy.
Not so in English. The nouns vary: noncount, count, collective, aggregate, etc.
Noncount nouns are always singular because they cannot be counted. A noncount noun–as a unit–cannot be distinguished from another unit and cannot be counted. The noun star, therefore, is a count noun because you can distinguish one star from another even when you cannot finish counting all the stars. Grains of sand can be counted: each grain is discrete and separable from another. It doesn’t matter whether you finish counting the grains or not. Sand, however, is noncount, although we can use sands in the literary sense (poetic, to refer to the beach or desert). Hair is often noncount, while strands is not.
If all this sounds confusing, don’t despair. Just check Merriam Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary to see if a noun is count or noncount. The Learner’s Dictionary is very helpful to speakers of languages other than English and is the only online dictionary I saw that identifies a noun a count or noncount. Please let me know if you find another.
As a singular noun. the noncount noun should not be written in the plural form–do not add s or ies.
- stationery (never stationeries)
- evidence (only one exception; check out Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary)
- documentation (never documentations)
- input (only one exception; check out Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary)
- correspondence (one or two exceptions; check out Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary)
- gossip (one exception; check out Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary)
- clothing (you can have clothes but not clothing)
- gear (always noncount when you mean “supplies, tools, or clothes needed for a special purpose”
- mail (but e-mails can be count or noncount)
- money (take note of exceptions at Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary
More lists of noncount nouns to come later!
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