Grammar For IELTS: Count Nouns

grammar for ielts by ieltsmaterial - count nouns


Three of the five underlined words contain an error related to nouns. Can you explain why each of these underlined words is (or is not) wrong? Discuss with a partner.

The Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agent (EPA) was created by Congress in 1970 to replace the fifteen federal agencies that previously were responsibility for enforcing the legals that regulate environmental pollution.

1. Count Nouns

Nouns that can be counted are called count nouns. They can be singular or plural in form.

Singular: one subject a problem one reason a child

Plural: five subjects two problems three reasons eight children

2. Singular Count Nouns

Singular count nouns, together with any descriptive adjectives, have an article (a, an, the) or another determiner before them (my, your, this, one, every, each).

For example: an exam, a long exam, my brother, my oldest brother,

each chapter, each new chapter

Don’t use a singular count noun without an article or other determiner.

Incorrect: house, new house, car, old car.

Correct: a house, their new house, my car, our old car
However, in a few idiomatic expressions, no article is used:

have dinner/ in school/ at home/ at work

by bus (by + transportation) /  by phone (by + communication)


3. Plural Count Nouns

Plural count nouns are sometimes preceded by the definite article the or by another determiner, or they may appear alone. Plural count nouns are NOT preceded by a or an.

Incorrect: a houses/ an expensive houses

Correct: the houses/ some houses/ big houses/ some big houses

Regular Plurals

Most count nouns form their plural by adding -s to the singular noun.

cat / cats tree / trees taxi / taxis sweater / sweaters
schedule / schedules course / courses professor / professors hat/hats

Irregular Plurals

A few common count nouns have an irregular plural form.

man / men woman / women child / children
fish / fish tooth / teeth foot / feet
knife / knives thesis / theses criterion / criteria
self / selves analysis / analyses datum / data
life / lives alumnus / alumni medium / media
half / halves sheep / sheep hero / heroes


A few plural nouns do not have a singular form:

glasses pants jeans scissors tongs clothes

Special Spellings of Plurals

A few types of count nouns form their plurals in a slightly different manner. Nouns ending in a CONSONANT + y form their plurals by changing the -y to -i and adding -es.

library / libraries  lady / ladies copy / copies theory / theories

This rule does not apply to nouns that end in a VOWEL + y.

tray / trays monkey / monkeys survey / surveys boy / boys

Nouns ending in -s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -x, and -z add -es to form the plural.

class / classes bush / bushes bench / benches box / boxes

Exercise 1:  Six of the ten underlined words and phrases in this paragraph contain an error. Circle the errors and write the corrections above.

Current Economic Indicators

All economic indicators are up. People are building new houses at a very high rate. They are also buying a new cars. Among consumer products that are selling well are cellular telephones, computer, and big-screen TV sets. Unemployment is low—jobs are not difficult to find, but a good employees are. Some firms are offering bonuses or stock options to attract capable person. Interest rate are at a comfortable level, resulting in heavy sales of consumer item.

Hope this post could help you increase your writing & speaking skills in the IELTS Test. Don’t forget to check out our website ( to find more tips about the IELTS Test.

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Sowmya is a content writer and is passionate about her job. She currently works on editing and writing engaging content for IELTS Material. She also has experience in the Software Testing Industry and has worked with Wipro for five and a half years.

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