Nouns are the building blocks of language learning and English grammar. Nouns are one of the first things that people study when attempting to learn any new language. The English language contains more nouns than any other type of word.
Introduction to Nouns
A noun is a word that refers to a person, place, thing, or idea. It is one of the basic building blocks for how we refer to things in the world around us. The other building block is verbs. They tell us what the nouns do.
Person: mother, father, President, George, Sarah, boss, employee
Place: bedroom, town, upstairs, Europe, outer space
Thing: table, chair, tree, mango, jacket, book
Idea: spelling, kindness, noun, thought, honor
A noun naming an idea, feeling, state, or quality is called an abstract noun.
Here are a few hints to find the nouns in a sentence.
- – Nouns often come after an article (a, an, the):
a cup, an automobile, the laundry
- – Nouns might be plural forms of other singular nouns:
cats – cats, tree – trees
- – A noun might end with -‘s. That means it is the possessive form of the noun: teacher – teacher’s, boy – boy’s
- – Words that end in -ice, -ness, -tion, -sion, -ence, -ance, -ment, -hood, -dom, -cy, -ist, -ity, or -ism are nouns. They are originally made from other words.For example: justice, sadness, provision, guidance, refere
Types of Nouns
There are several types of nouns
- – Some nouns name specific people or things. They are called proper nouns. For example: Jane, Atlantic Ocean
- – Some nouns cannot be counted. They are non-countable nouns. For example: sugar, water
- – Some nouns refer to a group of things. They are called collective nouns. For example: team, class
- – Some words can join to make one noun. These nouns are called compound nouns. For example: Football, mother-in-law
Nouns can change their form. Nouns can refer to one thing (singular nouns). They can change their form to refer to more than one thing (plural nouns). Nouns can possess other things (possessive nouns). This is also shown by changing form.
Common and Proper Nouns
Nouns are either common nouns or proper nouns.
Common nouns are words for general people, places, and things. Some examples are:
woman, street, river, town
Proper nouns name specific people, places, and things. Examples include:
Australia, Main Street, Amazon River, New Delhi
Have you been to London?
London is a specific place. It is a proper noun.
Ashok Kumar was a very talented actor.
Ashok Kumar is a specific person.
Recognizing Proper and Common Nouns
Proper nouns are almost always capitalized. Common nouns are not usually capitalized. They are only capitalized at the beginning of the sentence.
Countable and Non-Countable Nouns
Countable nouns are nouns that can conceptually or grammatically be counted. There can be just one of its kind or there can be more than one.
apple, child, tree, hour, letter
Non-Countable nouns are nouns that cannot be counted such as:
excitement, sugar, ketchup, sadness
Using Countable Nouns
Countable nouns have plural forms that mean “more than one”
Countable nouns can be counted with numbers. For example:
1 apple, 2 apples, 3 apples
In sentences, singular countable nouns must have a determiner before them. These include the words the, a, or an.
The plural forms can take determiners such as the, these, those, several, few, some of, many.
Using Non-Countable Nouns
Non-countable nouns cannot be counted. So they do not have plural forms. For example, say:
I have money. Not I have moneys.
Money is non-countable. It refers to a collective thing. It does not have a plural.
I have a lot of money.
This sentence emphasizes how much money. Use a phrase like “a lot of” instead of the plural.
Non-countable nouns often follow words such as some, much, little, an amount of. We cannot add a or an before them. It is wrong to say ‘a bread’ or ‘a furniture’. For example:
Do you want me to buy a loaf of bread?
To talk about a certain amount of bread, use a phrase like a loaf of.
Some nouns have a countable meaning and a non-countable meaning.
She has long blonde hair.
Hair is uncountable here. We are talking about all the hair on her head.
I found a hair in my soup!
In this sentence, we are talking about a single strand of hair. It is countable.
The Christmas tree was covered with hundreds of lights.
Here, light is a countable noun. It is plural.
I couldn’t see anything because there was no light.
Light is used as an uncountable noun.
Some nouns are countable in other languages but non-countable in English and they must follow the rules for non-countable nouns. The common ones are:
accommodation, advice, bread, furniture, luggage, news, progress, traffic.
A collective noun names a group of people or things. Examples include:
Committee, class, flock of geese,bunch of flowers, pack of mules, complex of buildings
Using Collective Nouns
We think of the collective noun as one thing. A collective noun is usually used as a singular noun. For example:
Our class went to the museum today.
The class is a unit.
Sometimes a single collective noun can imply singular or plural in number.
The team is winning!
Here the team is seen as one unit.
The team are cooperating well tonight.
The team is seen as many individuals.
Compound nouns are nouns made up of two or more words. For example:
Stowaway, bathtub, boarding pass, mother-in-law
Writing Compound Nouns
Sometimes the words are directly connected, such as baseball. Other times there is a space between the words, as in train station. Some words are connected with a hyphen, such as merry-go-round. The dictionary is the best place to check the spelling.
Plural of Compound Nouns
As you will learn later, the plural form means “more than one”. Plurals can be tricky for compound nouns. Where do you put the plural ending -s? Sometimes it goes on the end of the compound noun. Sometimes it goes on the word that is “many”.
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