Mak­ing un­count­able words count­able

The Borneo Post - Good English - - News -

A. You can make many un­count­able nouns sin­gu­lar by adding, a bit of or a piece of. Sim­i­larly you can make such nouns plu­ral with bits of pieces of. ( Bit is less for­mal than piece).

She bought an at­trac­tive old piece of fur­ni­ture at the auc­tion sale. How many pieces of lug­gage have you got with you?

I heard a re­ally use­ful bit of in­for­ma­tion yes­ter­day.

Chopin wrote some won­der­ful pieces of mu­sic.

Be­fore you go to Eng­land I should give you two bits of ad­vice ... He spends all his money buy­ing new bits of com­puter equip­ment.

B. Although bit and piece can be used with the ma­jor­ity of un­count­able nouns there are also a num­ber of other words which can be used with spe­cific un­count­able nouns.


We have cer­tainly had a good spell of sum­mer weather this year. Did you hear that rum­ble of thun­der?

Yes, I did. It came al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter the flash of light­ning. I heard a sharp clap of thun­der, then a few rum­bles in the dis­tance. A sud­den gust of wind turned my um­brella in­side out.

There was a sud­den shower of rain this morn­ing.

Did you feel a spot of rain?


‘Can I have a loaf of bread, a slice of cake*, two bars of cho­co­late, a tube of tooth­paste, two car­tons of milk and three bars of soap?’

• Slice can also be used with toast, bread, meat and cheese.


Look at the la­dy­bird on that blade of grass!

What’s hap­pened? Look at that cloud of smoke hang­ing over the town! She blew lit­tle puffs of smoke out of her cigarette straight into my face. Let’s go out and get a breath of fresh air.

Put an­other lump of coal on the fire, please. ( lump can also be used with ‘sugar’)


I had an amaz­ing stroke of luck this morn­ing.

I’ve never seen him do a stroke of work. (only in neg­a­tive sen­tences) I’ve never seen him in such a fit of tem­per be­fore. The don­key is the ba­sic means of trans­port on the is­land. Tights must be the most use­ful ar­ti­cle/item of cloth­ing ever in­vented. There was an in­ter­est­ing item of news about Syria on TV last night.


I) Match the words in the list on the left with their part­ner on the right. 1. a stroke light­ning

2. a shower coal

3. an ar­ti­cle grass

4. a lump news

5. a flash rain

6. a blade cloth­ing

7. an item thun­der

8. a rum­ble luck

II) Change the un­count­able nouns to count­able nouns in the fol­low­ing sen­tences by us­ing ei­ther a bit/piece of or one of the more spe­cific words listed in the left hand col­umn.

Ex­am­ple: Could you buy me some bread, please? Could you buy me a loaf of bread, please?

1. My mother gave me some ad­vice which I have al­ways re­mem­bered.

2. Sud­denly the wind al­most blew him off his feet.

3. We had some ter­ri­bly windy weather last win­ter.

4. Would you like some more toast?

5. He never does any work at all in the house.

6. Let’s go into the gar­den - I need some fresh air.

7. I can’t give you some im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion about that.

8. We could see smoke hov­er­ing over the city from a long way away.

9. There is some in­ter­est­ing new equip­ment in that cat­a­logue.

10. I need to get some fur­ni­ture for my flat.

III] Use words from C on the left col­umn to fit the clues for the puzzles be­low.

1. The gov­ern­ment an­nounced a state of ..................................... af­ter the earth­quake.

2. My granny wouldn’t be in such a bad state of ............................ ......... now if she hadn’t smoked all her life.

3. We fell in love with the house although it was in a dread­ful state of .....................................

4. We are still in a state of ..................................... as to who has won the elec­tion.

5. Although this is sup­posed to be an af­flu­ent so­ci­ety, more peo­ple are liv­ing in a state of ..................................... here now than for the last 50 years.

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