Making plural nouns in English can be confusing. Sometimes you add an “es.” Sometimes it’s just an “s.” Sometimes you add “ies.” And other times you add “en.”
Then once you’ve memorized all these rules, mass nouns enter the fray. There are no rules for making mass nouns plural because they can only be plural. Mass nouns, also called “uncountable nouns,” are substances, objects, and concepts that cannot be divided into separate parts. Think about the word “news.” There’s only news as a general idea. There isn’t one “new.” News is all of the important topics of the day, taken together as a collection.
The same goes with “sand.” There are beaches filled with sand, but you can’t find one sand. However, you can dig your hand into the ground and come up with grains of sand. This is one of the rules with mass nouns. If you want to use a mass noun, you have to place words in front that explain how much or many of the mass noun you have.
- a grain of sand
- piece of news
- a gallon of water
Another rule with mass nouns to keep in mind is that English treats mass nouns as if they were singular. For instance, instead of using “are,” use “is.”
- This juice is delicious.
- Greed is dangerous.
And if the verb you want to use usually drops an “s” with plural nouns, it will keep the “s” for mass nouns.
- The cheese tastes yummy.
- Your jewelry looks expensive.
List of mass nouns
This is by no means a complete list, but here is a brief collection to get you started: