How to Teach Countable and Uncountable Nouns

The distinction between Countable and Uncountable nouns is an important concept for your ESL students to grasp. As your students learn new nouns, they should note whether they are countable or uncountable because this distinction determines how the nouns appear in sentences (plural forms, use of a/an, some etc…).

Challenges when teaching Countable and Uncountable Nouns

It can be challenging to find suitable lesson content to use with your ESL students. We have released three lesson plans under our Nouns Section here. From our teaching experience, here are some tips we can share when tackling the subject of countable and uncountable nouns with your students:

  • Don’t focus on uncountable nouns being “things that you cannot count”, this will confuse students, especially since many uncountable nouns can be counted (e.g. rice)
  • Don’t focus on the practical reasons of why a noun can’t be countable, because some English uncountable nouns are countable in other languages!
  • When giving early examples of uncountable nouns, try not to use nouns that are sometimes countable (e.g. pizza), foods in general can often be both countable and uncountable

Rather than spending too much time on the theoretical classification of countable and uncountable nouns, we suggest explaining that uncountable nouns are not used in the plural form, and using this distinction to build on other grammar rules.

Our Countable and Uncountable Nouns Lesson Plans

In our first lesson, N7.1 – Countable-Uncountable-1, we start by reviewing the basic plural forms of nouns. We then review nouns that only have a plural form (because they have two parts) such as jeans and scissors. We then introduce the concept of countable and uncountable nouns (i.e. that uncountable nouns only have a singular form). We finalize the lesson by reviewing the grammar rules surrounding a and an (i.e. used only with singular countable nouns).
countable-uncountable-nouns countable-uncountable-nouns
In our second lesson, N7.2 – Countable-Uncountable-2, after reviewing the basics of countable and uncountable nouns we introduce the concept of nouns being both countable and uncountable (e.g. paper and papers). Although this can be a complicated concept for students to grasp, we suggest focusing on the different meanings that nouns take on when used in a countable form and alternatively in an uncountable form:
countable-and-uncountable-nouns countable-and-uncountable-nouns
In our third lesson, N7.3 – Countable-Uncountable-3, we introduce the use of some with plural countable nouns and uncountable nouns, and contrast the use of some with a/an. We also introduce the use of there is and there are with nouns. We finalize the lesson by explaining that most uncountable nouns are made up of countable parts (e.g. chair + table = furniture).
uncountable-and-countable-nouns uncountable-and-countable-nouns

The intention of our three countable and uncountable lesson plans is to give your student a framework for understanding a complicated grammar concept. We would love to hear from teachers that have used these lesson plans with their students!


  • Zainab says:

    September 19, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Very useful thnx alot

  • jed says:

    December 19, 2017 at 12:41 am

    Great work!

    • Kris Jagasia says:

      December 19, 2017 at 3:50 am

      Thanks for stopping by Jed, enjoy!

  • Czar says:

    March 18, 2018 at 7:36 am

    Thanks for the sharing.

  • Paul says:

    March 24, 2021 at 6:17 pm

    Great resources. Thanks

    • Chris says:

      March 26, 2021 at 10:21 pm

      You’re welcome, hope you enjoy them!

Leave a reply

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *