Unit 70. countable nouns with a/an and some – grammar in use

Countable nouns can be singular or plural:
a dog a child the evening this party an umbrella dogs some children the evenings these parties two umbrellas

Before singular countable nouns you can use a/an:
* Goodbye! Have a nice evening.
* Do you need an umbrella?
You cannot use singular countable nouns alone (without a/the/my etc.):
* She never wears a hat. (not ‘She never wears hat’)
* Be careful of the dog. (not ‘Be careful of dog’)
* What a beautiful day!
* I’ve got a headache.

We use a/an… to say what kind of thing or person something/somebody is:
* A dog is an animal.
* I’m an optimist.
* Tim’s father is a doctor.
* Are you a good driver?
* Jill is a really nice person.
* What a lovely dress!
We say that somebody has a long nose/a nice face/a strong heart etc.:
* Jack has got a long nose. (not ‘the long nose’)
In sentences like these, we use plural nouns alone (not with ‘some’):
* Dogs are animals.
* Most of my friends are students.
* Jill’s parents are really nice people.
* What awful shoes!
* Jack has got blue eyes. (not ‘the blue eyes’)
Remember to use a/an when you say what somebody’s job is:
* Sandra is a nurse. (not ‘Sandra is nurse’)
* Would you like to be an English teacher?

You can use some with plural countable nouns. We use some in two ways:
i) Some = a number of/a few of/a pair of:
* I’ve seen some good films recently. (not ‘I’ve seen good films’)
* Some friends of mine are coming to stay at the weekend.
* I need some new sunglasses, (= a new pair of sunglasses)
Do not use some when you are talking about things in general (see also Unit 74):
* I love bananas. (not ‘some bananas’)
* My aunt is a writer. She writes books. (not ‘some books’)
Sometimes you can make sentences with or without some (with no difference in meaning):
* There are (some) eggs in the fridge if you’re hungry.
ii) Some = some but not all
* Some children learn very quickly. (but not all children)
* Some police officers in Britain carry guns, but most of them don’t.

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Unit 70. countable nouns with a/an and some – grammar in use