Knowing What Nouns Can DoThe Definition of a Noun
A noun may be defined simply as a naming word that names something.
- Animate or inanimate thing with physical existences such as person, animal, plant, tree, cow, stone, village, winner, etc.
- Abstract or spiritual entity including love, goodwill, passion, honesty, justice, faith, etc.
- Some quality or property associated to an object such as density, color, weight, thickness, etc.
- Action which may include cooking, singing, dancing, clapping, jumping, etc.
In the case of nouns identifying actions, perhaps it is helpful to point something in sentence 1) and 2) below,
- Studying is necessary to pass the exam. →(In this sentence, Studying is a noun—a specific sort of noun known as GerundOpens in new window—because it is the name of an action and is the subject of the verb is; but notice also in 2):
- He was studying all day.→Here, studying is not a noun: in this usage, it is a part of the verb was studying, which tells what he was doing.
Using Nouns to identify people, places or things
- Nouns tell us the names of some persons; such as King David, Esther, Peter, Rhoda, etc.
- Nouns tell us the names of some places; such as Dubai, Disneyland, Canada, Park View, etc.
- Nouns tell us the names of some things that we can see, feel, touch, hear or smell; such as cucumber, smoke, dog, electricity, aeroplane, etc.
Classification of Nouns
A. Classes of Nouns
Nouns are broadly classed into two classes:
- Common nouns and
- Proper nouns.
1. Common Noun
A common noun Opens in new window is the naming word that names all the members of a class of objects—that is, the name is common to all the members of the class: as, country, state, man, bank, lake.
2. Proper Noun
A proper noun Opens in new window is the naming word that distinctively names an individual member of a class: as, Virginia (a member of the class of state), Germany (country), William (male), Erie (lake).
The word proper is derived from the word “property” and has the meaning of “one’s own.” In writing, proper nouns are capitalized.
B. Special Classes
The two classes—common and proper—cover all nouns, but included in these two are some special types, as the following:
1. Abstract Noun
An abstract noun Opens in new window is a naming word that names a cognitive or abstract entity: as, benevolence, courtesy, trust, tranquility, compassion, empathy, strength, resilience, etc.
2. Collective Noun
A collective nounOpens in new window is a naming word that names a collection or group of similar objects: as, management, club, team, herd, mob, army, etc.
3. Concrete Noun
Concrete nounsOpens in new window refer to things that have some kind of actual physical form including people and animals, concrete objects that we can perceive through our senses —that is, concrete nouns can be touched, felt, held, seen, smelt, taste, or be heard.
Depending on the context, concrete nouns may be variously categorized as countable (birds, plants, houses, etc.) or uncountable (snow, water, flood, etc.). Concrete noun is the opposite of abstract noun.
4. Compound Noun
Compound noun Opens in new window is a combination of two or more existing nouns or other parts of speech Opens in new window: as, grandmother, highway, businessman, commander–in–chief, brother–in–law, sales department, payroll, Marriott Hotel, Apple Computer, etc.
5. Countable Noun
A countable nounOpens in new window is a naming word that names something that can be counted and may be either physical or abstract: as, pencil (pencils); mouse (mice); idea (ideas); datum (data); school (schools) etc.
6. Uncountable Noun
Uncountable nounOpens in new window is also called mass noun. It’s the naming word that names something that cannot be counted and is used only in the singular; it may or may not abstract: as, clutter, wisdom, silence, satisfaction, music, etc.
Properties of Noun
- Number designates whether one or more objects is indicated.
- Gender and Case are used individually to indicates the sex of an object, and relation of the noun or pronoun to the rest of the sentence respectively.
Principal Functions of Nouns
The principal functions that nouns may serve in sentence includes:
Examples, in accordance to these headings include:Noun as Subject of a Verb
- Mr. Briggs speaks rapidly.
- Mr. Briggs is a noun functioning as Subject.
- Noun's job is the do-er of the action “speaks”
- Peterson is my uncle.
- uncle is a noun functioning as Subject Complement.
- The Noun's job is complement of the subject “Peterson”
Note that a subject complement can be a predicate nominative or a predicate adjective.
- If the subject complement is a noun, it is a predicate nominative Opens in new window.
- If the subject complement is an adjective (as: The flower looks beautiful.) it is a predicate adjective Opens in new window.
- Mr. Briggs became president
- president is a noun functioning as Predicate Nominative.
- Noun's job is renaming the subject “Mr. Briggs”
- Andy bought a gift.
- gift is a noun functioning as Direct Object.
- The Noun's job is receiver of the verb's action “bought”.
- They made Alli captain
- Alli is a noun functioning as Direct Object.
- captain is a noun functioning as Object Complement.
- The Object complement's job is complementing the direct object Alli
- The truck finally loaded, they said goodbye to their neighbors and drove off.
- The phrase “The truck finally loaded” consists of a noun “the truck” and some modifiers (finally loaded).
- The phrase serves Nominative absolute modifying the rest of the sentence.
Noun as Indirect Object
- Andy bought Gretchen a gift.
- Gretchen is a noun functioning as Indirect Object.
- The Noun's job is the receiver of the direct object “gift”.
- James, did you get the phone?
- James is a noun functioning as Noun of Direct Address.
- The Noun's job is, it names the listener “James”.
- Joel drove across the bridge.
- Bridge is a noun functioning as Object of Preposition.
- The Noun's job is, it follows the preposition “across”.
- Brenda, my neighbour, has a dog
- neighbour is a noun functioning as Appositive Noun.
- The Noun's job is, it renames the noun (subject) “Brenda”.