recess / break (uncountable) when it is a resting period between lessons

but recess / break (countable) when it is a short period of time when you stop what you are doing and rest, eat, etc.

For example "we don't have a lunch break at work".

In Vietnam, say, at school, from 8am to 8:45 am, my children learn math. Then, they have a rest from 8:45 am to 9am. From 9am to 9:45am, they have an English lesson. They they have a rest from 9:45 to 10am. From 10am to 10:45am they have another class. After that they have lunch from 10:45am until 12 pm.

So are the periods from 8:45 am to 9am and from 9:45 to 10 called "break/recess"? and they are uncountable right?

For example, I want to give this advice to my children "if you want to go for a poo/pee during a lesson, then hold it. You can do it during break/recess or during your lunch break"

I can not say "during lunch break" because "lunch break" is countable

  • Where are you finding the rule about during and countable nouns?
    – TimR
    Commented May 7 at 11:23

2 Answers 2


"Recess" and "break" are unusual words in that both can be used as either countable or uncountable pretty freely.

"I am on break." Not countable.

"I am on a break." Countable.

You can use it either way.

If you use one of these words with an article or a number, it's countable. "We get three breaks every day." "We took a break after the meeting." If you use it without an article or a number, it's not countable. "The children played on the swings during recess."

Most words are one or the other. Like "happiness" is uncountable. You can't say, "I felt two happinesses today." "Goose" is countable. You can't say, "I saw goose at the park today." You have to say "... a goose ...".

Some words can be both countable and uncountable but with different meanings. Like if you use "water" as uncountable, you mean the substance in general. "Water flowed under the bridge." But many people use "water" as countable to mean a glass of water or a bottle of water. "I'd like two cans of cola and a water, please." But that's getting off on a tangent.


"You can do it during break/recess or during your lunch break," is perfectly acceptable. One could also use, "lunch breaks." Neither is better than the other. English is flexible enough to allow the words either way, e.g.,

  • "I'm on break." uncountable
  • "I'm on my second break." countable
  • "He fell during recess." uncountable
  • "We have two recesses each day." countable

Some other examples:

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