Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Count Noun

Count Noun

A count noun is a noun whose possible referents are thought of as separate entities.

It thus has the ability:

  • to take a plural form
  • to occur with distinctive determiners (such as a/an, many), and

  • to occur with cardinal numerals.

It does not have the ability, however, to occur with a determiner such as much.

Some nouns permit treatment as either count or mass nouns .

For example, in English, salad may be treated as either a count or mass noun, as evidenced by the acceptability of the following expressions:

  • Many salads
  • Much salad


The word farmer is an example of a count noun, as evidenced by the acceptability of the following expressions:

  • Farmer
  • Farmers
  • A farmer
  • Many farmers
  • Two farmers

However, the expression much farmer is not acceptable.

Page/s: 246
Source: Quirk, Greenbaum, Leech, and Svartvik 1985

Quirk, Randolph, S. Greenbaum, G. Leech, and J. Svartvik. 1985.A comprehensive grammar of the English language. London: Longman.

Page/s: 298
Source: Mish 1991

Mish, Frederick (editor). 1991.Webster's ninth new collegiate dictionary. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster. 1,564 pages. 0877795088; indexed 0877795096; deluxe 087779510X.

Page/s: 79
Source: Crystal 1985

Crystal, David. 1985.A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics. 2nd edition. New York: Basil Blackwell.

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