Home
常見錯誤 Common mistakes: ‘so much things’ and ‘so many stuff’

常見錯誤 Common mistakes: ‘so much things’ and ‘so many stuff’

Posted by Grant Richardson, 3rd August, 2018

Corrections: ‘so many things’ and ‘so much stuff’

A simple but often forgotten grammar rule:
In English, unlike in Chinese, some nouns can be counted (e.g. birds), while others cannot be counted (e.g. air).

Countable nouns have a singular form and a plural form:

  • 1 idea, 2 ideas, 3 ideas
  • 1 thing2 things, 3 things

In contrast, uncountable nouns normally do not have a plural form (though, there are exceptions; see below):

  • air
  • water
  • love
  • stuff

Uncountable nouns

For uncountable nouns, you can use “… much (+ plural form)”, not “… many”

  • (negative) I didn’t eat (so) much food this morning.
  • (question) How much food did you eat last night?
  • (positive) I ate so much food last night.
  • (positive) I ate a lot of food last night.

Note that much is used for negatives or for questions.

For positive sentences, in spoken English, we normally use a lot of or so much…  E.g. So much food / A lot of food.

Other quantifiers for uncountable nouns are:

plenty of, some, any, a little, loads of (informal), stacks of (informal), heaps of (informal)

How do you count uncountable noun items?

For every uncountable noun, there is normally a counter. For example:

I ate a bowl of cereal for breakfast

Quiz: Can you match the following uncountable nouns on the left with the correct counter on the right? (Answers: see below)

1 celery / incense / butter A a bar of
2 chocolate / soap B a bottle of
3 coffee / hot chocolate / tea C a bowl of
4 deodorant / soda / fly spray D a can of
5 lettuce / cabbage E a cup of
6 pizza / pineapple / of the action F a head of
7 rice / porridge / soup G a member of
8 sugar / salt / syrup H a roll of
9 staff / the team / a group I a piece of
10 toilet paper / footage J a stick of
11 water / wine / orange juice K a teaspoon of
12 software / information / technology L a slice of

Exceptions – uncountable nouns that don’t always need a counter

Some nouns can be used as either uncountable or countable plural. That is, they don’t always need a counter word.

For example, wine can be:

  • uncountable (like water), e.g. “I drank too much/a lot of wine
  • uncountable (using a counter, e.g. a bottle of / a glass of), e.g. “I bought a bottle of wine
  • countable singular, e.g. “I had a wine” (meaning a glass of wine)
  • plural, e.g. “I had 3 wines” (meaning 3 glasses of wine)

Other nouns which can be used as either countable or uncountable:

  • beer vs beers (=glasses or bottles of beer)
  • cheese vs cheeses (=types of cheese)
  • fruit vs fruits (=types of fruit)
  • chocolate (=from a bar of chocolate) vs chocolates (=in a box of assorted chocolates)

ANSWERS

  1. J
  2. A
  3. E
  4. D
  5. F
  6. L
  7. C
  8. K
  9. G
  10. H
  11. B
  12. I

Leave a Comment

*

*

X

Forgot Password?

Join Us

Password Reset
Please enter your e-mail address. You will receive a new password via e-mail.