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: 


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


Tina - Coordinator's picture
Tina - Coordinator 11 September, 2015 - 07:39

Dear aracas,
I'm not sure why you can't see the video, I've just tested it and it's working fine for me.
(1) Are you using Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari or another browser? Try using a different browser and see it that works.
(2) Can you see the other videos in Video Zone, Video UK and Film UK, or are they not working either?
(3) The videos in Video Zone come from YouTube. Do you know if YouTube is blocked in your country?
Best wishes, Tina (LearnEnglish Teen Team)

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alam98's picture
alam98 14 July, 2015 - 05:03

yes speaking English can become just like a piece of cake.... but it only happens when we will take it like a piece of cake .....

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JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 14 July, 2015 - 09:51

Hi alam98,
Welcome to LearnEnglish Teens. We have a lot of great students using our website and I'm sure they will help you with any problems you may have. We are also here to help you, so if you have any doubts or questions, just ask. 
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team) 


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RuzicaJovic's picture
RuzicaJovic 24 July, 2014 - 10:38

Learning and speaking English isn't a piece of cake, but if you're working hard i'll be a piece of cake!

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nguyenvuhau's picture
nguyenvuhau 19 May, 2014 - 17:44

I think I don't speak English well. I'm trying to improve not only this skill.

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lulu1996's picture
lulu1996 16 December, 2013 - 22:18

It's not a piece of cake when you get to English for the first time! But there are some websites wich are very funny to learn English.

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AnaB's picture
AnaB 9 November, 2013 - 21:27

Maybe. frist I need to make the cake and than eated, it's the same in English. You have frist to learn English language and than use it.

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LOGY's picture
LOGY 29 May, 2013 - 20:47

English language is a very useful language and very important because It's the most popular language,for me it's not a piece of cake but step by step i can do it

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Natalija's picture
Natalija 26 April, 2013 - 13:28

I like English so much, esp in the last five years. It's both useful and interesting, but I think that it's not a piece of cake. When you start to learn it, it's certainly not. But later, after years spent studying it, it easily becomes a piece of cake. So, practice and studying are the key to a better and fluent English, and at that moment, you'll be able to say:"English is just a piece of cake for me". I think I'll say that soon:)

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Alister's picture
Alister 14 November, 2012 - 15:20

Learning English is not difficult for me, but sometimes I have some problems. But I love learning English and I'm doing my best to improve it.

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Milifeska's picture
Milifeska 22 May, 2012 - 14:47

I like learning English.But it is not a piece of cake.Itn is like a...sandwich . At first do and then eat ^_^ !

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Natalija's picture
Natalija 26 April, 2013 - 13:25

Hi, Milifeska:)
I like the way you compare English with sandwich, it's funny and humorously. Greetings:)

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Blue sea's picture
Blue sea 12 May, 2012 - 12:14

i think countable and uncountable nouns are a little bit difficult but with practicing it'll be a piece of cake

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