Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"
Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"

Mistakes are often made by IELTS students with uncountable and uncountable nouns.

Today we answer a listener question about the grammar of these tricky nouns.

We’ll provide tips to simplify how these nouns are used.

In addition, we’ll share many example sentences for IELTS Speaking and Writing.

These will help you avoid these common errors on test day.

Today’s question

A student sent a question about quantifiers.

Should I say ‘the number of people’ or ‘the amount of people?’

Likely you have heard native English speakers use both!

This is a common error in English.

For a countable noun like ‘people,’ use the quantifier ‘a number of.’

‘The amount of’ should be reserved for uncountable nouns.

Uncountable nouns

Things that can’t be counted are uncountable nouns.

  • Information
  • Evidence
  • Research
  • Anger
  • Advice

There are many of these in English!

Quantifiers for these are different than for countable nouns.

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Grammar of uncountable nouns

The grammar is tricky because these are already plural.

Article usage is also different so you must be careful.

A common mistake is to say ‘an advice’ or ‘advices.’

Because this noun is uncountable, you would instead say ‘advice.’

It is already plural so you cannot add an ‘s’ to make it plural.

It cannot be singular so you cannot add ‘an’ before it.

Quantifiers for uncountable nouns

Specific quantifiers are used for uncountable nouns.

  • a great deal of
  • a huge amount of
  • much

The amount of money spent on food alone is staggering!
A great deal of anticipation is always felt during this time of year.
Much concern is felt over planning entertaining activities.

Countable nouns

Things that can be counted are countable nouns.

  • people
  • individuals
  • news stories
  • problems
  • advantages
  • sales
  • choices

For any of these, the quantifier ‘a number of’ could be used.

Grammar of countable nouns

The grammar is much more straightforward for these nouns.

They have both a singular and plural form.

For this reason, you can add ‘s’ to most of them to make them plural.

  • individuals
  • sales
  • choices

When referring to a specific, defined noun, the definite article ‘the’ is used.

  • The individuals I was referring to…
  • The sales we made last week…
  • The choices he made…

Some are irregular, such as the noun ‘person’ becoming ‘people’ as its plural.

The articles ‘a’ and ‘an’ can be used before these nouns in their singular form.

  • an individual
  • a sale
  • a choice

Quantifiers for countable nouns

Specific quantifiers are also used for countable nouns.

  • a number of
  • a multitude of
  • a quantity of
  • a plethora of

A large number of people attend the festivities every year.
Many problems could be avoided with proper planning.
A multitude of businesses sponsored the event this year.
A plethora of activities are always available, including…


Countable and uncountable nouns are tricky!

Many students make errors with these on the IELTS exam.

You must understand both the changes in grammar and quantifiers.

With today’s tips, you’ll be able to avoid these common errors on test day.

For all the strategies you need, sign up for our online IELTS course!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

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