04 January, 2009

Lecture Notes: Nouns


A noun is a name given to an object or idea.

Classes of Nouns:

1. A common noun is a name given to any one of a class of objects (tulip, city, face, movie, girl, clue, lake, cookie).Common nouns can be classified into the following sub-classes:

  • A concrete noun is the name of a perceivable object (spoon).
  • An abstract noun is the name of a quality or idea (truth, ethics).
  • A collective noun is the name of a group of things (mob, herd).
  • A mass noun is the name of a non-countable collection (time).

2. A proper noun is the official title of a specific object; it is therefore always capitalized (Dionysus, Bela Lugosi, Atlantic Ocean, Mother Goose).A proper noun can always be put into its common noun class: Texas -> state; Atlantic -> ocean; Bela Lugosi -> man (or actor).

Properties of Nouns

There are four basic properties for English nouns:

1. Gender - a property that indicates the sex of the referent. These include:

  • Masculine - king, uncle, boy, etc.
  • Feminine - queen, aunt, girl, witch, etc.
  • Common - parent, singer, table, etc.

2. Person - property indicating the relationship between the noun and the speaker. These include:

  • First person - object(s) speaking (I, John, am here.)
  • Second person - object(s) spoken to (John, come here.)
  • Third person - object(s) spoken of (John is here.)

3. Number - An indication of one or more than one object. This includes:

  • Singular - denotes one object (cat)
  • Plural - denotes more than one object (cats)

4. Case - Indicates the grammatical function of the object. These include:

a. Nominative - The noun is the doer of the action (or the subject)

  • The sun shines. (subj)
  • Grant was a general. (subj complement)
  • The chief, an old man, rose. (appositive)
  • Charles, please come here. (direct address)

b. Objective - The noun is acted upon

  • Bob repelled the intruder. (d/o)
  • Mom gave Ellen a hug. (i/o)
  • Tom hit Bill, the new boy. (appositive of d/o)
  • Mom gave Ellen, her daughter, a hug. (appositve of i/o)
  • The man under the tree smiled. (obj prep)

c. Possessive - Denotes ownership or agency

  • The boy’s kite... (one boy)
  • The boys’ kite... (more than one boy)
  • John and Bill’s kite... (joint ownership)
  • John’s and Bill’s kites... (indiv. ownership)

    Plural Forms

    In English, plural nouns are formed in different ways:
    1. Regular plurals - Formed by adding -s or -es to singular noun forms (cars, boxes, etc.)
    2. Irregular plurals - Formed by spelling change (foot -> feet; mouse -> mice; child -> children)
    3. Double plurals - A noun that can have both a regular and irregular plural form (brother -> brothers or brethren; bandit -> bandits or banditti)
    4. Plurals treated as singular - Some nouns have a plural form but a singular meaning(news; means; physics, dollars)

    Role of Nouns

    A noun can have a variety of functions in English, including:
    Subject of a verb - who/what does the action.
  • The water ripples.
  • Sparks flew.

2. Object of a verb - who/what receives the action; for whom/what?

  • I scratched my nose. (d/o)
  • I gave the lady the case. (i/o)

3. Object of a preposition - the “what?” of the preposition.

  • The pendulum swings over the pit.

4. Complement - completes the meaning of another noun or pronoun.

  • I am a student. (sub. complement)
  • I saw Joe, the new hire. (obj complement)

5. Appositive - A noun used to explain or identify another nounal.

  • I waved at my guest, a strange fellow.
  • The story, a tale of fabulous imagination.
  • I called Bob, my professor.

No comments: