Grammar Lessons

An uncountable noun can be made countable by using a partitive. The word partitive is used to show that only a part of a whole or a piece of something is referred to, for example a slice of bread, a lump of coal or a bar of chocolate.

The following table shows each item as a single unit (e.g. a drop of paint, a plot of land). It can very well be more than a single unit, for example drops of paint, plots of land).

The content in the table includes other expressions such as a release of a strong emotion, for example an outburst of anger, an aspect of something, for example an element of danger, etc which may not be termed partitives.

Uncountable nouns Partitives
activity an outburst of
advice a morsel of
anger a fit/an outburst of
applause a burst/ripple of
bacon a piece/rasher/slice of
banknotes a bundle/ wad of 
beer a barrel/bottle/can/crate/glass/keg/tankard/pint of
biscuit a box/crumb/packet/tin of
blood a drop/pool/trickle of; spots/traces of
bread a chunk/crumb/hunk/loaf/piece/slice of
butter a knob/lump/pat of
cake a crumb/piece/slice/sliver/wedge of
cardboard a piece/sheet of cardboard
cement  a block of
cheese a chunk/hunk/morsel/slice/wedge of
chess a game of
china a chip/set of
chocolate a bar/box/slab/square of
clay a lump of 
cloth a bale/length/piece/scrap/shred/strip of
coal a load/lump/piece of
coffee a jar of
concrete a layer/slab of
cotton a bundle/strand of 
cream (whipped) a dollop of
cutlery a set of 
danger an element of
delight a cry/gasp/shriek/squeal/whoop of
derision a hoot of
dirt a speck of
disapproval a shout of
dizziness a rush of
doubt a hint
dust a cloud/film/puff/speck of
earth a clod/clump/lump of
envy a stab of
evidence a scrap/shred of
exasperation a hint
excitement a ripple of
flame a sheet of
flu a bout/dose of
food scraps of
genius a flash/stroke of
glass a pane/piece/sheet/fragment/sliver/splinter of
glue a blob/pot/tube of
gossip a bit/piece/titbit
grass a clump of
grease a film/spot of
guilt a twinge of
gum a wad of
hair a head/strand of
hay a bundle of
history a piece/slice of
homework a piece of
hope a glimmer/shred of
ice a block/slab/thick sheet of 
ice cream a dollop of
information a scrap of
ink a pot of 
inspiration a flash of
iron a scrap of
jam a dollop/jar/pot of
jealousy a fit/pang/rush/stab/twinge
land a parcel/plot/strip; tracts of
laughter a fit/gale/ howl/outburst/peal/ripple/roar/shriek/snort of
lemon a slice/ wedge of
light a beam/gleam/glimmer/flash/ray/shaft of
lightning a bolt/flash of
liquid a drop/pool/squirt of
luck a stroke of
meat a chunk/hunk/piece/slab/slice of
medicine (e.g. penicillin) a dose of
metal a scrap/sheet/strip/wedge of
mint a sprinkling of
money an amount/a sum of
moonlight a shaft of
mud a lump of
music a piece of
mustard a spoonful of
news an item/a bit/piece of 
news (bad) a dose of
newspaper a copy/edition/sheet
nonsense a load/lot of 
oil a barrel/drop/film/pool/squirt of
orange a segment of
pain a howl of
paint a blob/coat/drop/flake/speck/splash of
paper a bundle/piece/scrap/sheet/slip/strip of
perfume a bottle/puff of
poetry an anthology/a book/collection/line/volume of
rage a bellow of rage
rain a drop/trickle of
rock a chunk/lump/piece/slab of
rope a length of
rubbish a bag/load/pile; tons of
saliva a dribble of
salt a grain/pinch of
sand a grain of 
sauce a dash/drop of
scorn a shout of
skepticism/scepticism a pinch of
smoke a cloud/puff/wisp of
snow a flake of; flakes of
soap a bar/cake of
spaghetti a strand
speed a burst of
steam a cloud, jet of
steel a strip of
stone a slab of
sugar a cube/lump/pinch/spoonful/bag/packet of
sunlight a shaft of 
thread a length, piece, strand of
thunder a clap/crash/peal/roll/rumble of
timber a baulk/length/piece
tissue a wad of
traffic a roar of
truth an element/a grain of
understanding a level of
underwear a change/set of
unease a ripple of
violence a level of
water a drop/jet of 
wire a length, piece, strand of
wood a baulk/block/splinter/wedge of
wool a bundle of
work a bit/collection/exhibition/piece of
writing an anthology/a collection/piece of

Each of the words listed in the table can be an adverb or an adjective.


alone left
back likely
better little
cheap long
close loud
deep low
direct near
double only
early overseas
even pretty
fair right
far sharp
fast short
hard still
high straight
ill tight
just together
kindly well
last worse
late wrong
  • He seemed to think there’s no better way of getting money than stealing it. (Adjective)
  • You cannot possibly speak better with your mouth full. (Adverb)
  • She was born with an unnaturally loud voice. (Adjective)
  • A voice in the crowd cried out loud that her little daughter was missing. (Adverb)
  • The driver was the only person on the bus that passed by. (Adjective)
  • This bus is for female passengers only. (Adverb)