Nouns that are usually uncountable dictation


Kinds of words that are often uncountable listening game

By: Alex Case
Level: All Levels
Topic: General
Grammar Topic: Nouns
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Lesson Plan Content:

Words which are usually uncountable list dictation

Without looking at the next page, listen to your teacher read lists of similar things and try to work out how they are related. They will start with the most difficult examples each time. When you think have worked out what the category is, put up your hand and say “They are all kinds of…” Each person can only guess once in each round, so don’t guess until you are quite sure. You must get exactly the category that the teacher has written on the worksheet, so make sure your guess is specific enough.

All the examples that you heard have something in common. Can you guess what?

All the examples you heard can be divided into two categories. Can you guess what the two categories are?

Look at the examples on the next page to help with the questions above.

Divide the things on the next page into uncountable categories that have countable examples, and categories of things which are usually uncountable. If you get stuck, try adding -s to the examples and see whether they sound right or not.

Uncountable categories that have countable examples

Categories of things which are usually uncountable
























Lists to dictate

  • abstract noun – happiness, wealth, joy, misery, poverty
  • accommodation – hut, serviced apartment, tent, caravan, B&B, villa, log cabin, bungalow, self-catering flat, holiday home, mobile home, condo, maisonette, camper van, igloo,
  • alcohol - champagne, rum, bitter, mild, IPA, pale ale, rosé, vodka, stout, porter, cider,
  • bedding –quilt, fitted sheet, pillow case, duvet, valence, blanket, bedspread
  • building material – sand, marble, mortar, concrete, cement, wood, paint, wallpaper, flooring,
  • condiment – ketchup, soy sauce, Tabasco, brown sauce, salt, pepper, English mustard, chutney, pickle, mayonnaise
  • crockery – plate, soup bowl, saucer, mug, side plate,
  • cutlery –table spoon, soup spoon, fish fork, steak knife, disposable chopstick
  • dessert – jelly, ice cream, trifle, rhubarb crumble, meringue, sorbet,
  • detergent – fabric softener, washing powder, washing up liquid, hand soap
  • drug – cocaine, marihuana, heroin, crack, speed
  • fabric/ cloth – denim, polyester, Lycra, hemp, jute, lace, wool, cashmere
  • footwear - slip on, high heel, trainer, plimsoll, clog, welly, flip flop/ thong,
  • fruit – apple, Satsuma, mandarin, pear, pineapple,
  • furniture – armchair, dinner table, kitchen chair, swivel chair, filing cabinet, sideboard, chest of drawers, dresser, queen-sized bed, futon/ sofa-bed
  • fuel – coal, petrol, paraffin, diesel
  • gas – oxygen, CO2, hydrogen, helium, nitrogen, carbon monoxide, methane
  • hair care product – conditioner, hairspray, gel
  • ingredient for baking – flour, margarine, water, egg white, icing sugar, yeast
  • ism – surrealism, communism, socialism, fascism, anarchism
  • jewellery – engagement ring, wedding ring, dangly earring
  • lighting – desk lamp, fluorescent strip, LED bulb, torch
  • liquid in a car – oil, brake fluid, antifreeze, water
  • liquid in the garage – oil, brake fluid, paint, white spirit
  • liquid in the kitchen – vinegar, sauce, oil, soya milk, soy sauce
  • literature – poem, novel, novella, short story, play
  • luggage – knapsack, sack, briefcase, suitcase, backpack, satchel, rucksack, handbag, shoulder bag, attaché case
  • make up – foundation, eye liner, eye shadow, blusher
  • material a car is made from – rubber, metal, plastic, leather, foam, glass
  • material for arts and crafts – canvas, paint, charcoal, clay, Playdoh,
  • meat – bacon, mutton, beef, lamb, venison
  • men’s clothing - bomber jacket, shirt, tie, DJ, bowtie, double breasted jacket,
  • men’s grooming product – shaving foam, aftershave, hair gel, Brylcream, shower gel, deodorant, anti-perspirant
  • metal – aluminium, stainless steel, copper, bronze, platinum, gold, cast iron, tin
  • mouth care product – floss, mouthwash, toothpaste, tooth polish,
  • music – symphony, theme song, concerto, instrumental,
  • pasta – fusilli, spaghetti, ravioli, farfalle, macaroni
  • plastic – cellophane, acrylic, vinyl, Bakelite
  • pollution – sewage, smoke, smog
  • powder – flour, cocaine, sugar, salt, pepper, washing powder
  • savoury things you spread on bread - pâté, sweet pickle, relish, mango chutney, French mustard, margarine, butter, Marmite/ Vegemite, Bovril
  • soft drink – pop, juice, squash
  • sport – football, cricket, crazy golf, American football, croquet, snooker, pool,
  • sportswear – tracksuit, headband, sweatshirt, trainer,
  • staff in a hotel – bellboy, doorman, chambermaid, barman,
  • starchy food – brown rice, semolina, couscous, mashed potato, pasta, bread
  • stuff on the road – oil, snow, black ice, slush, mud
  • stuff you add to hot drinks – (whipped) cream, sweetener, sugar, full fat/ semi-skimmed/ skimmed milk, alcohol, creamer
  • stuff you pull a length of – cling film, aluminium foil, toilet roll, kitchen roll, string, cotton thread, sellotape, masking tape, insulating tape
  • stuff you rub onto your skin – Vaseline, Vick’s, after sun, suntan lotion,
  • supply for a photocopier – A4/ A3 (recycled) paper, toner, ink
  • thread – dental floss, string, rope, cotton, twine
  • time – millisecond, millennium, fortnight, long weekend, moment, tick, sec, era, generation
  • transport – minibus, convertible/ cabriolet, estate, SUV, Beemer, Mercedes, rubber dinghy, gondola, limousine, airport shuttle bus
  • weather – rain, hail, sleet, fog, smog, mist, sea spray
  • winter clothing – woolly scarf, jumper, fleece, mitten
  • women’s beauty product - body scrub, moisturiser, hand cream, hairspray
  • women’s clothing – nightdress, ballgown, bra, cheongsam, dress, top


Can you add any more things to the lists that match both by meaning and grammar?

Test each other in pairs. Use your own ideas if you can.

Do you think any of the things could actually be both countable and uncountable (= can be “some + noun” and “some + noun + s”, without the latter just meaning “some kinds of _____”)? How would that change the meaning?


Suggested answers

Uncountable categories that have countable examples

Categories of things which are usually uncountable












men’s clothing

men’s grooming product



staff in a hotel



winter clothing

women’s clothing

abstract noun


building material





fabric/ cloth



hair care product

ingredient for baking


liquid in a car

liquid in the garage

liquid in the kitchen

make up

material a car is made from

material for arts and crafts



mouth care product





savoury things you spread on bread

soft drink


starchy food

stuff on the road

stuff you add to hot drinks

stuff you pull a length of

stuff you rub onto your skin

supply for a photocopier



women’s beauty product


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