(4) What kinds of nouns are there?
There are a number of different ways of categorizing nouns, but probably
the one with the greatest consequence for English grammar is the distinction
between count and noncount (also called mass) nouns. This distinction has
consequences for what forms the noun has and for what the noun can cooccur
Noncount nouns do not appear in the plural. We can talk about beans
since bean is a count noun, but rice has does not appear in the
plural in its mass sense. (Like most noncount nouns, rice can also be used
more markedly as a count noun referring to species of rice and so can be
used in the plural in sentences like That company markets many different
rices and other grains.)
Noncount nouns cannot be counted. A native speaker of English feels
comfortable using numbers with count names, but does not feel comfortable
using numbers with non-count nouns. So a native speaker of
English might talk about one bean or two beans or three
beans or more, but not about *one rice or *two
rices. (The * means that this is not something that a native
speaker of standard English would produce or accept as English.)
Noncount nouns cannot be modified with the indefinite article a
or an, so one can talk about a bean, but not a rice.
For more about this question, see the answer to
question (5) What is the difference between information and facts?