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Student Question

Secondary II • 1mo.

how can i know a French noun is countable or uncountable? the French dictionary doesn't show the property.

many nouns i can guess. but not every one. for example, i guess "dessert" is uncountable but countable.


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Explanations (1)

  • Explanation from Alloprof

    Explanation from Alloprof

    This Explanation was submitted by a member of the Alloprof team.

    Team Alloprof • 1mo.

    Hello NaiveApple! :)

    Once again, it's a really good question! :)

    Nouns are countable when they can be quantified. They are then used with a numeral determiner.

    Ex. : «chat» (cat), «livre» (book), «voiture» (car), «amis» (friends).

    Uncountable nouns possess the uncountable trait when they are not quantifiable.

    Ex. : «eau» (water), «temps» (time/weather), «argent» (money), «musique» (music).

    Some nouns can have either the countable or uncountable trait depending on the context in which they are used. To check if a noun is countable or uncountable, one must verify if it can be accompanied by a numeral determiner or a partitive determiner.

    Ex. :

    • Countable : Il faut deux farines différentes pour faire ce pain. (Two different flours are needed to make this bread).
    • Uncountable : J’ajoute de la farine pour épaissir cette sauce (I add flour to thicken this sauce). 

    **Our factsheet on the partitive determiner is currently only available in French. However, we are working very hard to make it available in English very soon!

    I hope this information helps clarify things for you. Don't hesitate to reach out if you have any further questions! :)


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