How to teach countable & uncountable nouns

Written by shannon johnson
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Teaching grammar to anyone can be pretty difficult in this day and age. With the increasing use of technology comes the increasing use of improvised abbreviations and improper spellings. Countable and uncountable nouns, if taught correctly, can be an easy way to attract a younger student to the world of grammar. Teaching someone the difference between these two sets of nouns can break some of these ongoing habits and grammatical errors, no longer leaving them stumped on how to word a particular sentence.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Worksheet of 50-100 sample sentences
  • Timer with bell
  • Set of 5 dry erase markers (different colours)
  • large dry erase board

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  1. 1

    Begin by giving a tutorial on the difference between a countable and uncountable noun. Be sure to point out the difference a countable noun being more specific than the uncountable noun, which tends to be broader.

  2. 2

    Once the students have a sense of what each of the nouns are and what they look like in a sentence, hand out the worksheet, face down. Set a timer and tell the students that this is a timed exercise. Instruct them to try to figure out the sentences that consist of either countable nouns or uncountable nouns (or both). Timing should vary based on how many questions you give them, but be sure to make it quick.

  3. 3

    When the timer goes off, make sure that all of the students writing utensils are down. Continue the activity by writing three to four of the sentences from the worksheet on the board and call on individual students to come up and denote which are countable and which are uncountable nouns. Make sure that the students use different coloured markers with one colour representing each type of noun and that they underline each noun type, respectively.

  4. 4

    Go over each problem with the students and make sure they understand the difference between the two nouns. Continue this activity for however long you see fit. Have students keep their worksheets to review.

Tips and warnings

  • If you wish to do it on a daily basis, make shorter worksheets, consisting of 10-20 sentences with a shorter time limit.
  • The whole point of this activity is to make students look at a sentence and recognise a countable noun and an uncountable noun. Not all students work well during timed assessments so let them know that it is not a race, but just an alternate way to learn a particular concept.

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