Count and non-count nouns. Simply put, count nouns are those that can be enumerated or counted. Examples include desk, tree, and chair. On the other hand, non-count nouns are mass nouns, which do not normally occur in the plural form. They often refer to abstractions and carry a collective meaning. Examples include love, honesty, luggage,and water. In a broad sense, the terms count and non-count nouns are conceptualized in the same way in English and Chinese. However, differences exist in how individual lexical items are categorized. For example, some items classified as count nouns in Chinese are classified as non-count nouns in English. Specific examples include furniture, baggage, luggage, mail, bread, and chalk. Because of this discrepancy, Chinese students may tend to make the following types of errors.
*There are a lot of good furnitures in his house.
*I got two mails today.
*I had two breads today.
*There are three chalks on the desk.

A Chinese teacher of English says that we can never say one paper, two breads, or three chalks, because paper, bread and chalk are all uncountable nouns. Can't "chalk" be used as a countable noun? Why did I hear people say "a box of colored chalks"?

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Comments  (Page 2) 
TeoIt exists in the plural only in this set expression, 'box of coloured chalks'.

This isn't true, see these from the New York Times, wrt drawing by using chalks:

The Artist's Widow

Like a drawing in chalks—of white and mauve irises. Can I get you a drink?" "Thank you. No thank you. But I do feel rather chalky. ...


In this show there are groups of triangles drawn in chalks of various colors, but mostly black and sanguine, on large, unprimed canvases. ...
I think it may be used in more ways than just that one. Look here: http://scrapbooking.about.com/library/weekly/aa052400a.htm . I must say I didn't probe any further, but this shows that, even though the uses may be rare, they do occur.
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Hi, Pieanne

I did a check on the NY Times and found a lot of situations where 'colored furniture' is used. I have a hard time accepting readily of the fact an uncountable noun can be modify by such (a??) word as "colored". I think I didn't see any situations where "s" is used with word "furniture" when I did the NY Times search but when when I searched the whole web, found these among many others. I think you can make a plural out of an uncountable noun if you create a situation where there are various types of it, but I don't think you can say the following have succeeded in creating such a situation or do you? I know it might be hard to tell without the full context.

Our newly renovated roomsare bright and cozy with light colored furnitures and pastel toned decoration

An aqua-colored furnitures: a desk, a shelf, a chair ...

Sorry if my question isn't clear.
That would be three STICKS of chalk, or three pieces of chalk and NOT three chalks.
The word "chalks" is only used as a verb.