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1 Project 2 Tesl 231/2 Lec A: Count And Noun-Count Nouns

Anastasia Konstantinopoulos Concordia University

2 Count and Non-Count Nouns In the English Language it is very important to be able to express quantity. It is not always obvious for non-native speakers of English to be able to understand what the grammatical way for expressing quantity is. It seems like an easy topic of grammar, but there are many rules concerning count and non count nouns. Count and non-count nouns are used with quantifiers, but misused many times by speakers. For this project, this difficulty encountered by English speakers will be answered using three different sources: The Grammar Book, A Communicative Grammar of English, and Owl Purdue. The Grammar Book Fistly, according to Celce-Murcia and Larson-Freeman, 1999, it is important to communicate the quantity or amount of something correctly. These authors explain that nouns that can be made plural are count nouns and the ones that cannot be made plural are non-count nouns. Three linguistic devices exist purely to deal with issues of quantification: partitives, collectives, and quantifiers. A partitive is a phrase, usually consisting of a count noun followed by of that precedes another noun (Celce MarciaMurcia and Larson Freeman, 1999). This pattern can be used to quantify non count nouns. For example: A glass of water. This pattern can also be used for the quantity of count nouns as well. For example: A pair of jeans. According to these authors many ESL/ EFL students are more familiar with metric measure phrases. For example: A cup of coffee, a bowl of soup. Other kinds of precise measures are container-based: a carton of milk, portion based: a slice of cake, individual members of a category: a word of advise, parts or fractions: two portions of the cake, a shape of: a ball of

3 yarn, and a pair of: a pair of slippers. There are also idiomatic partitives used for vegetables, other food items, animals and people. Some examples are: a head of cabbage, a loaf of bread, a pride of lions, and a group of friends. Also, according to Quirk et al., 1985, the whole of, the rest of, and the remainder of are three partitives, with a definite determiner that are used to express an entire thing (the whole of) or some specific part thereof. Collective nouns are count nouns that can be used in partitive constructions to refer to groups of people and animals (Celce-Murcia & Larson-Freeman, 1999, p.329). For example: a group of singers, a herd of cattle. Also, collective nouns are derived from adjectives. Nouns like the meek, the dead, and the rich, are always preceded by the, but they are neither singular nor plural and they may refer to a whole group in general terms rather than to a particular or unique group. For example: The poor are getting poorer. The third section of Chapter seventeen that the Grammar Book covers on is quantity in English and specifically quantifiers. Quantifiers indicate a non-specific amount or quantity of the noun that follows. Quantifiers can be determiners or when the referent is clear, pronouns. Quantifiers with count and non count nouns focusing on many and much and a lot of are complex. According to the textbook, many is used with count nouns, and much is used with non-count nouns. However, a lot of can be used with both count and non-count nouns (Celce-Murcia &Larsen-Freeman, 1999, p. 330). Another complex area of quantifiers, are comparative quantifiers. Several

4 quantifiers have comparative and superlative forms like adjectives. The comparative forms are: much, many, few, little, much more, many more, and fewer. The superlative forms are most, fewest and least. Hence, many, few, many more, fewer, fewest are used with count nouns, and much, little, much more, less, most, and least are for non-count nouns. (Celce-Murcia &LarsenFreeman, 1999. p.333) The Grammar Book provides a lot of detail regarding quantity. It is important to know all these details that the Grammar Book provides in order to apply them correctly and therefore speak the English language properly. The Grammar Book is definitely a great source to use to teach ESL students about quantity. This grammar book discusses all the kinds of quantifiers, all the collective nouns, and the partitives. A Communicative Grammar of English In this second source, Leech and Svartvik, 2002 begin by explaining amount words or what are also called quantifiers. These authors explain that amount words specify more precisely the meaning some. The authors go into detail about a large quantity, a small quantity, and not a large quantity and specify the amount words that go in each category. Different quantifiers are used for count nouns and non-count nouns. For a large quantity, many is used for count nouns and much is used for mass. For example: He has many friends. They have lost much of their confidence. However, a lot of can be used for both count nouns and mass. For example: A lot of my motivation comes from my family. A lot of people suffer daily. Also, A large

5 number of people is used for count nouns and a great deal of noise is used for mass. For a small quantity, a few of is used for count nouns and a little of is used for mass. For example, Mary has a few of the people. I need a little of your love. Also, a small number is used with count nouns, and a bit is used for mass. For not a large quantity, not many is used for count nouns, and little of is used for mass. What is interesting is that few and little without a have a negative bias. Leech and Svartvik, 2002 also discuss that many and much are often used in combinations with as, too, so much as, too many, too much, so many, so much, and in questions, how many. For a question like: How many dresses did she buy? these answers would be acceptable: All of them, most of them, a lot of them, half of them, several of them, a few of them, none of them. For a question like: How much of the food is left? these answers would be acceptable: All of it, most of it, a lot of it, half of it, a little of it, none of it. Later, these authors provide information on the indefinite use of amount words. They explain that the general (indefinite) use of amount words, total is given (Leech & Svartvick, 2002). For example, for count nouns an example would be: All countries need more help. For mass, this example is acceptable: All fear should be gone. In informal style, a lot of, (or lots of), is preferred to many or much in positive statements (Leech & Svartvick, 2002). Many people arrive early at work everyday.(formal). People have a lot of work. (informal). However, in questions and after negatives (very) many and much are not restricted to formal English. For

6 example: Have you seen much of Julie? I dont sleep much during the end of semester. Do many people come here? We dont get many clients usually. The next topic on count and non-count nouns that these authors discuss is words of general or inclusive meaning. All, both, every, each, and (sometimes) any are amount words of general or inclusive meaning. With count nouns, all is used for quantities of more than two and both for quantities of two only. For example: Both groups of all cultures are welcome to come. The words like every and each can be called distributive, because they pick out the members of a set or group singly, rather than look at them all together. Apart from this difference, every has the same meaning as all (Leech & Svartvick, 2002). For example: All quiet students usually tend to listen more to the teacher. Every quiet student did well on the test. Each and every are alike except that each can be used when the set has only two members. Thus each (unlike all and every) can sometimes replace both with little difference in meaning. John put a chocolate on each hand. John put a chocolate on both hands. Also, according to the authors, the most familiar use of the determiners any and either is in negative sentences and questions, but in the following examples they are considered as inclusive words. Any can sometimes replace all and every in positive sentences. For example, any beautiful girl can feel ugly, any new toy must be inspected for child safety. Also, when there are only two objects or people, either is used instead of any. Either of my dresses is pretty. In negative form: Neither of my friends cares about that.

7 Also, any can be used with mass nouns and plural count nouns. For example, any land can be beautiful, people are lucky if they find any items on sale. According to these authors, if amount words were put in a scale, moving from the inclusive words at the top, to the negative words at the bottom this order would follow: for count nouns: all/every, most, many, some, several, a few, few. For mass: all, most, much, some, a little, little. This book provides great detail on count and non-count nouns. For ESL students this material would need to be taught gradually in order for the students to grasp all the details. I would probably not use this source to teach about non-count and count nouns because it is very complex for non-native speakers of the English language. However, the scale with inclusive words and negative words gives a great explanation of count and non-count nouns and could be a good tool to use when teaching this concept. Owl Purdue This scholarly website explains the basic rules of count and non count nouns. Firstly, adjectives with countable and non countable nouns are discussed. According to this website, a count noun is one that can be expressed in plural form, usually with an s. For example, tree trees. A non count noun is one that usually cannot be expressed in a plural form. For example luck, oxygen, love. You cannot say, He has a lot of lucks. The difference between a countable and non countable noun matters with certain adjectives, such as some/any, much/many, and little/few. Some and any are used with countable and non countable nouns. For example: I have some milk in the refrigerator. There are some dogs in the backyard.

8 Do you have any milk? Do you have any jeans I can borrow? However, much modifies only uncountable nouns and many modifies only countable nouns. He does not need much money Many people believe in God Also, little modifies only uncountable nouns. For example: He has little love to give. Few modifies only countable nouns. Few students do not experience stress. Also explained in this website is a lot of and lots of. These words are informal substitutes for much and many. For example: They have lots of (much) honey now. A lot of (many) Greeks are suffering. He received lots of (many) gifts last summer We got lots of snow last night. A little bit of is informal and always precedes an uncountable noun. There is a little bit of hope for that. Also, enough modifies both countable and uncountable nouns. There is enough help already You have enough shirts for the school year Plenty of modifies both countable and uncountable nouns. They have plenty of water in the refrigerator. Plenty of people do not have the time to sleep well. No modifies both countable and uncountable nouns. I have no time to see him There are no clients in that store. This website provides brief explanations on the rules about count and non-count nouns. It enables the reader to understand the basic rules, and also helps the reader distinguish between when to use each quantifier. Students, especially students learning English as a Second Language would probably benefit from these kinds of explanations. This website definitely provides clear and easy to understand explanations for students who need to understand the difference between countable and non-countable nouns.

9 In conclusion, The Grammar Book provides the best information and the clearest explanations for ESL students. Although it includes a lot of detail and contains difficult terminology, it provides information that is necessary for understanding this topic of grammar. A communicative grammar of English provides very complex information, and it is not as organized as the Grammar book. Therefore, it would be difficult to explain the rules with the order provided in this book. On the other hand, the online academic website, Owl Purdue, has clear explanations and rules concerning non-count and count nouns. Owl Purdue would need to include more details as does the grammar book, because certain rules are left out. In conclusion, if one had to choose the best source amongst these three to teach count and non-count nouns to ESL students the Grammar Book would be the best choice.

9 References Celce-Murcia, M., & Larson-Freeman, D. (1999). The grammar book. Boston: Heinle, Cengage Learning. Leech, G., & Svartvik, J. (2002). A communicative grammar English. Harlow, U.K.: Longman. Purdue Owl (2011). Purdue Online Writing Lab. Retrieved from