Introduction
What is a noun?
Count and mass nouns
Count and mass uses
of nouns
Unit nouns
Problematic points
Concrete and abstract nouns
Compound nouns
Common nouns from proper nouns
   
 
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
 
Count and Mass Uses of Nouns

Look at this picture:

It has a cup in it and there is some tea in that cup. If someone asks you in a cafe what you would like to drink, you might well answer:

I'd like a tea, please!

You have, in other words, used the indefinite article with a mass noun and got away with it. This is formally correct despite what we have said so far. What is happening here is that the phrase a tea is shorthand for a cup of tea. The noun cup is a count noun, but we have recategorised the mass noun tea and given it a countable meaning, i.e. it stands for the container that has the tea in it. We do this all the time with drinks and glasses and cups, etc.


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