Take a look at the following UTME question:

• The principal went to buy some _____ for the physics laboratory.
A. Equipment
B. Pieces of equipments
C. Equipments
D. Items of equipments
E. List of equipment
UTME 1984 q77

So, which of the options is the most appropriate?

YES – “equipment” (option A)

This question is testing you on your knowledge of determiners.

What are determiners?

They are simply those words that walk along with nouns.

They are all adjectives.

They determine the countability of the noun they modify or that comes after them (i.e whether uncountablesingular or plural noun.)

For example, when you see “these“, you expect a plural count noun.

Or can you have:

  • These money
    Or
  • These book

NO, you can’t.❌❌❌

Why?

Because after “these“, a plural noun should follow but non of those nouns is plural count.

But you can have:

  • These men/books/children/lovers, etc ✓✓✓

There are five categories of determiners:

  • Articles
  • Possessives
  • Demonstratives
  • Quantifiers
  • Numerals

Before we move any further, let’s quickly go through the types of nouns we have.

Based on the category of countability, we have two basic types of nouns:

• Countable nouns, further divided:

  • Singular count nouns, e.g, child, pen, woman, phone, spoon, etc
  • Plural count nouns, e.g, children, pens, women, phones, spoons, etc

And

• Uncountable Nouns – these are also known as mass count or non-count nouns e.g. advice, luggage, baggage, information, tea, rice, happiness, knowledge, cloth, staff, traffic, news, gold, furniture etc.

Do you understand?

Great!

These are the different determiners that walk along with them:

Singular count nouns Plural count nouns Uncountable nouns
This, that, my, our, your, her, their, its, each, every, either, neither, first, second, etc These, those, my, your, our, his, their, its, some, few, a few, a number, lots of, many, most, several, both, etc. Some, my, his, their, a great deal of, much, no, a lot of, little, a little, etc.

Now, back to the question ⬇️

• The principal went to buy some _____ for the physics laboratory.
A. Equipment
B. Pieces of equipments
C. Equipments
D. Items of equipments
E. List of equipment
UTME 1984 q77

In our premium class, a number of rules were given, but, in this case, the following rules apply⬇️

🔰 Rule 6

To quantify uncountable nouns, simply apply such phrases as – an item of/ four items of/a piece of or two pieces of/a cup of/ a note of/a loaf of + the uncountable noun.

And

🔰 Rule 7

Never should you pluralise uncountable nouns in any case. e.g. informations, furnitures, advices, luggages, baggages, golds, breads etc❌❌❌

…even when such phrases as “two items of/two pieces of/two loaves of”, etc are used to quantify them.

Hence, it’ll be grammatically wrong to say:

• “Pieces of equipments” – Option B❌

• “equipments” – Option C❌

or

• “Items of equipments” Option D❌❌

However, you can have:
Some equipment” – Option A✓✓✓

List of…” is not a determiner.

I have no doubt you understand!

Now, take a look at this question ⬇️

• The doctor gave me ____ about my life.
A. Two advices
B. Three items of advice
C. Three pieces of advices
D. An advice

So, which one of the options is the most appropriate?

YES! Option B ✓✓✓

Explanation – Apply rules 6 and 7.

Now that you’ve learnt about determiners, give yourself a pat on the back.

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