Countable nouns Uncountable nouns Dangling modifiers

What are countable and uncountable nouns? And what on earth are dangling modifiers?

Countable nouns Uncountable nouns Dangling modifiers

Countable and uncountable nouns

countable nouns, uncountable nouns, countable and uncountable nouns, dangling modifiers

Examples of countable nouns and uncountable nouns

 

In our previous blog, Commonly Confused Word Pairs, we made reference to countable and uncountable nouns, and said we would go into detail in this blog.

Countable nouns are easy to explain and to recognise.

Simply put, countable nouns can be counted. Countable nouns can be used in the singular as well as in the plural.

Here are a few countable nouns:

Cat, bottle, plant, coin, dollar, suitcase, mango…

In the sentences below, the countable nouns are italicised and bolded:

The cat on the mat ate a rat (singular). Our three cats ate rats on mats (plural).

“Jethro, please put Simon’s and Jake’s bottles of beer in the fridge.” (By the way, ‘beer’ is an uncountable noun.)

Molly counted all the coins in her moneybox and found she had saved sixteen dollars.

At the check-in, the ground steward asked Ben, “Is that all your luggage, Sir?” “Yes, that’s all my luggage, but my wife has two suitcases.” (‘Luggage’ is an uncountable noun.)

I love ripe mangos. I could easily eat two large mangos every day for breakfast.

There are a hundred and five people in the cinema. (‘people’ is the plural of ‘person’)

A singular countable noun cannot stand alone. Before it, we must use, for example, an article or a pronoun, e.g. ‘a’ or ‘the’ or ‘my’ or ‘this’:

I want an apple (not ‘I want apple’)

Where is her suitcase? (not ‘Where is suitcase’)

We can use the indefinite article – ‘a’ / ‘an’ – with countable nouns:

An apple, a mango, a cat, a suitcase, an example

When a countable noun is plural, we can use it alone:

I like mangos.

Suitcases come in all styles and sizes.

‘some’ and ‘any’ can be used with countable nouns:

Molly has some coins.

The cats have some rats.

Benjamin hasn’t any plants in his garden. Please give Benjamin some plants.

‘a few’ and ‘many’ can be used with countable nouns:

Molly has a few dollars.

The cats ate many rats.

 

Uncountable nouns cannot be divided into separate elements; they cannot be counted. For example, the nouns ‘love’, ‘milk’ and ‘postage’ can’t be counted. You can however count ‘great love, litres of milk’, and ‘postage stamps’.

countable nouns, uncountable nouns, countable and uncountable nouns, dangling modifiers

Countable nouns Uncountable nouns Dangling modifiers UNCOUNTABLE nouns cannot be counted

Uncountable nouns are treated as singular. The examples below using uncountable nouns are bolded:

Beethoven’s music is amazing considering that he was deaf.

I have important news: we’re having a baby.

‘some’ and ‘any’ can be used with uncountable nouns:

“Spin me some gold!” said Rumpelstiltskin to the miller’s daughter.

Have we got any milk?

We can use ‘a little’ and ‘much’ with uncountable nouns:

We have a little milk left.

Sheila doesn’t have much information about her missing dog.

We don’t use the indefinite article ‘a’ / ‘an’ with uncountable nouns. We can’t say ‘a milk’, ‘a music’, ‘a news’, ‘a gold’. (We would say ‘a bottle of milk’, ‘a piece of music’, ‘important news’, ‘a pot of gold’.)

Countable nouns Uncountable nouns Dangling modifiers

Dangling modifiers

countable nouns, uncountable nouns, dangling modifiers

Countable nouns Uncountable nouns Dangling modifiers Groucho Marx and DANGLING MODIFIERS

I love these! I love the name, and I love examples of them. Here’s a famous (albeit deliberate) one.

“One morning I shot an elephant in my pyjamas. How he got into my pyjamas I’ll never know” – Groucho Marx, from his movie Animal Crackers (1930).

What is a modifier? A modifier is a single word, a phrase or a clause that modifies (adds more information to) a noun, a verb or an adjective in a sentence. Modifiers can be adjectives, adverbs, adjectival phrases, adverbial phrases, adjectival clauses, or adverbial clauses.

When a modifier is ‘dangling’, it does not modify the correct part of the sentence.

By placing the modifying clause right next to the word or phrase it describes, there will be no dangling modifier issue. “One morning when I was in my pyjamas, I shot an elephant.”

Check out some more examples:

Venus de Milo is a statue created by a famous artist with no arms. (The modifying phrase ‘with no arms’ modifies the word ‘artist’. The modifier is misplaced.)
(Correct: Created by a famous artist, Venus de Milo is a statue with no arms. (The modifying phrase ‘with no arms’ modifies the word ‘statue’, meaning that the statue has no arms. The modifying phrase is in the correct place.)

Oozing slowly across the floor, Martin watched the salad dressing. (The modifying phrase ‘oozing slowly across the floor’ modifies the word ‘salad dressing’.
Correct: Martin watched the salad dressing oozing slowly across the floor.)

Coming out of the market, the bananas fell on the pavement. (The modifying phrase ‘coming out of the market’ modifies the location of the speaker when the bananas fell on the pavement. Correct: As I was coming out of the market, the bananas fell on the pavement.)

I smelled the oysters coming down the stairs for dinner. (The modifying phrase ‘coming down the stairs for dinner’ relates to the person ‘I’, not to the oysters.
Correct: Coming down the stairs for dinner, I smelled the oysters.)

Holding a bag of groceries, the roach flew out of the cabinet. (As visually appealing as this is, the roach wasn’t holding the bag of groceries as it flew out of the cabinet.)
(Correct: The roach flew out of the cabinet as I was holding a bag of groceries.)

I saw an accident walking down the street.
(Correct: I saw an accident when I was walking down the street.)

editors4you.com hope that these explanations about countable nouns and uncountable nouns and dangling modifiers help to improve your writing or clarify usage.

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