It’s the day of Oliver and Alfie’s cooking competition. Daisy is filming the chefs in action, and Mum is on her way home.

Some nouns in English are countable – we can use them in singular and plural forms. Some are uncountable  they only have one form.

We often use a/an with singular countable nouns and some with plurals. We can also use some with uncountable nouns.

What are examples of countable nouns?

Here are a few:

I've got a steak, some red chilli peppers, some potatoes…
OK, well, I've got a lemon, an apple … and some chicken breasts.
I'd like a blue pen, please.

OK, so for things you can count, like one pen, two pens … Why did you say a pen, not one pen?

We often use a/an before singular countable nouns. Before words that start with a vowel sound, we use an, and before words that start with a consonant sound, we use a.

So is one wrong? As in Would you like one drink?

It sounds as if you're saying one (not two). If you're offering someone a drink, you'd say Would you like a drink?

But someone who works in a café might say, So that's one coffee and two lemonades.

So it's usually a or an for singular countable nouns and a number or some for plurals. How many is some?

It can be any number more than one.

I got some new jeans at the weekend. (a pair of new jeans)
Some teachers left at the end of the year. (we don't know how many)

Is some or a number always used with plurals?

No, have a look at these examples

I'm frightened of dogs. (dogs in general)
Strawberries have a lot of vitamin C. (strawberries in general)

What about uncountable nouns?

These are nouns that don't have a plural form.

I've got some garlic and some butter.
I'm looking for information about early rock and roll.
I haven't got enough paper.
You have to get permission from the head teacher.
Do you want some cake?

So, I can use some with uncountables too?

Yes, we use some with both countables and uncountables.

How do I know whether a noun is countable or uncountable?

A dictionary will tell you. Usually dictionaries use symbols [C] for countable and [U] for uncountable.

Just a minute. You said cake was uncountable. What about I made a cake this morning?

Yes that's correct, but there's a difference in meaning.

I made a cake this morning. (a whole cake – countable)
Do you want some cake? (a piece of cake – uncountable)
A box of chocolates. (individual chocolates – countable)
I'd like some chocolate too. (a piece or pieces of chocolate from a bar of chocolate – uncountable)

I thought coffee and lemonade were uncountable too.

Yes, they are usually.

I love coffee with hot milk. (uncountable)
Can you get some coffee? (uncountable)
I'll have a coffee, please. (a cup of coffee, countable)

Wow, so it's more complicated than I thought.

No, they're not really very difficult.

OK, they're easy. It's a piece of cake

Yes, simple! A piece of cake!

Language level: 

Discussion

The expression a piece of cake means something is really easy. Is speaking English a piece of cake for you?

Comments

Giovannichoi's picture
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Giovannichoi 21 July, 2020 - 06:44

Yeah!!! English is very easy!! That's true!! Speaking, writing, listening... The only hard part I think was just British diction, but I'm used to it now.

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marchese's picture
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marchese 23 March, 2020 - 08:41

No, actually I find it quite difficult to speak English but I try to commit myself so I am almost always satisfied with my results.

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Micheleanto's picture
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Micheleanto 20 March, 2020 - 17:22

For me say “a piece of cake” is incorrect, is better say “some cake” because how to say “a piece of bread” ( incorrect ).

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editor_rachael's picture
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editor_rachael 20 March, 2020 - 19:34

Hi Micheleanto!

 

It's OK, you can say 'a piece of cake' and 'a piece of bread'. They mean the same as 'a slice of'.

 

Hope you're having fun practising your English here!

 

Best wishes,

 

Rachael
LearnEnglish Teens team 

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asiasantin's picture
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asiasantin 20 March, 2020 - 15:23

No, speaking English I think it is no child's play for anyone, more than speaking learning to do it. Although English is complicated and a very important language that we must all know very well

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ballerinichiara's picture
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ballerinichiara 20 March, 2020 - 14:51

In my opinion English is quite simple than the Italian!
In English the grammar is less detailed and the verbs are more simple to learn.

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bea_mara's picture
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bea_mara 20 March, 2020 - 14:47

For me speaking English is not so difficult, but sometimes I have pronunciation problems, but nothing that cannot be solved with a listening and speaking exercise!

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Naogiosu7's picture
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Naogiosu7 20 March, 2020 - 13:30

The expression a piece of cake means something is really easy, but speak english is not easy for my, but it's a beautiful lauguage

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rrfalletto's picture
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rrfalletto 20 March, 2020 - 13:04

For me spaking English isn't a peace of cake. But more i study English more i find it simple

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gattifederica's picture
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gattifederica 20 March, 2020 - 12:59

For me speaking English isn’t a piece of cake. I’m good at writing in English, but in speaking I haven’t a good pronunciation. However, I’m able to understand most of the things said.

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Carolina000's picture
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Carolina000 20 March, 2020 - 12:35

For me speaking in English is not peace of cake at all, being Italian my native language it still takes me some time to handle English well.

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beasam0109's picture
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beasam0109 20 March, 2020 - 12:08

For me, english is not a piece of cake but for a foreigner I think it is easier to learn english than italian, especially with a grammatical aspect

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JasmineD03's picture
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JasmineD03 20 March, 2020 - 10:45

For me speaking english is not a piece of cake. I have been studying for nine years but I still don't understand and don't speak english as I would like. English is a beautiful language, also for my future I will need a lot because nowadays all over the world speak english. For this reason in fourth grade I would like to do a year abroad, because I think that only by going to England will I be able to learn and speak English as well as possible.

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Desy's picture
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Desy 19 March, 2020 - 18:03

For me speaking English is not a piece of cake, but I know that if I work hard I'm very good and that I can say very interesting things!

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Ely's picture
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Ely 19 March, 2020 - 17:27

for me speak english isn't simple how to eat a piece of cake, but in the futur with my study english will became for me a piece of cake.

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MatildePace's picture
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MatildePace 18 March, 2020 - 17:51

For me speaking English is not a pice of cake. However more I study English more I find it simple. At the same time, I think English is a simple Language, especially in grammar. Italian is more complex. But sooner or later the English will be lika a pice of cake for me.

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_auro_'s picture
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_auro_ 20 March, 2020 - 14:34

for me, conversing in English is a strong point, I have a lot of fun, it is my favorite language, I would like to know how to speak it as well as Italian.
I think English on a grammatical level is easier than Italian besides everything.

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giorgia_marchetti's picture
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giorgia_marchetti 20 March, 2020 - 14:14

I think that speaking english isn’t simple. When i speak english i don’t remember grammar rules and i mistake many tinghs. Bue Now i’m studing english because is very important for my future

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Rohan26's picture
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Rohan26 6 August, 2019 - 17:13

The expression a piece of cake means something is really easy but speaking English is not piece of cake for me but it will happen soon.

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Shashi's picture
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Shashi 10 July, 2019 - 13:38

Speaking English is easy for me.It 's a piece of cake.But grammar English is never be a Piece of cake for me particularly.

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leader's picture
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leader 28 June, 2019 - 15:44

no ever.for me speaking english is a hard things I can't talk with english and I don't know what's the problem .when I begin to talk I don't find words and I am scared to talk with my friends or my teacher
PLEASE HELP

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editor_rachael's picture
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editor_rachael 29 June, 2019 - 18:32

Hi leader,

 

Sorry to hear you find speaking English such a challenge! Have you seen our Speaking skills section? Here you can find interactive videos of conversations which you watch, and then repeat the dialogue of one of the speakers. This could be a great way to privately build your confidence with speaking, so that you start to feel able to practise with a friend! Good luck!

 

Rachael
LearnEnglish Teens team

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Pippatwo's picture
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Pippatwo 7 June, 2018 - 15:00

It's very much a piece of cake mostly. The only hard part is knowing that British and American English are so different when trying to learn the other version completely.

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