In Longman's Common Mistakes in English Grammar Practice, 6th ed. (2002) by T.J. Fitikides, at #251, the author recommends using make a noise instead of make noise. The sentences go like this:

Don't say: I told them not to make noise.
Say: I told them not to make a noise.

My questions:

  1. It's a negative sentence, so why not use any instead of a, i.e. I told them not to make any noise[s]?

Is it wrong to say to a couple of noisy students in the hallway for example, Don`t make any noise[s]?

  1. I've looked up the word noise and it's both count and non-count. In the context that I made above which one is correct or more common?

    • Don't make any noise.
    • Don't make any noises.
    • Don't make a noise.
    • Don't make noises.
  • Common Mistakes in English published by Longman. It labeled this mistake as 'Omission of a or an from make a noise, etc' then it gives those sentences that I put up already. At the end it also gives a Note saying 'Also to make a mistake, to make a fortune, to make a will [...]' just that and leaves the reader in confusion 😞
    – Yuri
    Mar 7, 2016 at 18:53
  • Thank you. As comments are temporary, I have integrated the source into your post (also, please do not cross-post— the tour and help center will be good to review).
    – choster
    Mar 7, 2016 at 19:16
  • Thank you choster for adding the source and sorry for being impatient. I waited for a couple of hours then I posted it there. I really needed an answer. Won't do it again ☺
    – Yuri
    Mar 7, 2016 at 20:03

1 Answer 1


In the context given, the most correct and common way to say it would actually be

Stop being noisy.

Since they are already making noise.

Don't make noise.

Is correct, though it when used in that particular context it sounds a little strange to my (native, American) ear. If you were in a situation where you wanted to prevent future noise,

Don't make noise.


Don't make any noise.

would both be perfectly fine to use. As far as noise being counted vs non-counted, the difference between 'noise' and 'noises' usually comes down to whether are multiple types or sources of noise. The difference between 'noise' and 'a noise' is usually whether the noise is sustained or brief.

For example, if there is a crowd of loud students in the hallway, you can say:

I hear a lot of noise in the hallway.

If there is a crowd students, and someone using power tools you might say

I hear a lot of noises in the hallway.

If the hallway is otherwise quiet, but someone loudly dropped a book it would be

I heard a noise in the hallway.

You could even use 'a noise' when referring to a sustained noise, though it would usually be coming from a single source, such as a dripping faucet, instead of a group of talking people. Generally, because 'noise' is so flexible, whether you use 'a/any noise' vs 'noise' and 'noise' vs 'noises' the sentence will usually sound correct.


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