Intended for healthcare professionals

Filler When I use a word

Words that count

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 24 May 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:1104
  1. Jeff Aronson, clinical pharmacologist, Oxford
  1. jeffrey.aronson{at}

    I have previously described the difference between count (or unit) nouns and non-count (or mass) nouns (BMJ 2004;329:30). Briefly, a count noun can be both singular and plural (a filler, my filler, those fillers, many fillers), whereas a non-count noun, which usually takes a singular form (furniture, some furniture, much furniture), is strictly speaking neither singular nor plural. If you can put the indefinite article, “a” or “an,” before a noun—indeed, if it requires some such determiner—it is a count noun. Some nouns can be of both types, with different meanings—two glasses (count noun), some glass (non-count noun). This happens, for example, when a …

    View Full Text

    Log in

    Log in through your institution


    * For online subscription