Noun Position

Noun position often determines the function of a noun in a sentence.

The position of a noun is invariably certain will be the fastest, if not the best means, to decide how the noun is being used in any particular place in a sentence.

Before we decide whether a noun is some particular noun function, we should invest little effort to study where the noun is used in the sentence.

1.  Subject

A noun that comes before the verbOpens in new window will usually be the subjectOpens in new window.

For example:
  • The boy played the piano.

Exception to this is a sentence in reverse order.

2.  Direct Object

A noun that follows an action verb will usually be a direct objectOpens in new window.

For example:
  • The boy played the piano.

Exception to this, is when the subject does no action to a noun in the sentence, or when no noun receives the action.

3.  Subject Complement

A noun that follows a verb of being will usually be a subject complementOpens in new window.

For example:
  • The flower is a gift.

Although all subject complements would normally follow a verb of being and refer to the subject, not all verbs of being are followed by subject complements.

4.  Object of Preposition

Noun that follows a prepositionOpens in new window is the object of the prepositionOpens in new window.

However, note that every preposition will have an object; usually that object is the first noun after the preposition and the last noun in the prepositional phraseOpens in new window.

For example:
  • The mountains are across the lake.

Although, there will be occasions where there will be other nouns within the prepositional phrase.

5.  Appositive Nouns

Appositive nouns usually come in the middle of a sentence, they may also come anywhere in the sentence but will not in any case occur at the beginning.

Appositive nounsOpens in new window are typically set off in commas after the nouns they rename.

For example:
  • Gretchen, my sister is a chorister.

6.  Nouns of direct address

A noun of direct address is set off by commas, and usually comes at the beginning or at the end of a sentence.

Nouns of direct address basically does what its name implies—it directly addresses someone.

For example:
  • John, how I wish we had mown the grass before the sunrise.

However, beware of a noun that occur at the end of a sentence and is set off from that sentence by a comma. If no listener is being addressed, that noun is not a noun of direct address Opens in new window.