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)
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:
1. 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.