04 January, 2009



When creating possessive form nouns there are 8 simple rules:

If a singular noun does not end in s, add 's.

  • The delivery boy's truck was blocking the driveway.
  • Bob Dole's concession speech was stoic and dignified.
  • The student's attempts to solve the problem were rewarded

2. If a singular common noun ends in s, add 's- unless the next word begins with s. If the next word begins with s, add an apostrophe only. (This includes words with s and sh sounds.)

  • The boss's temper was legendary among his employees.
  • The boss' sister was even meaner.
  • The witness's version of the story has several inconsistencies.
  • The witness' story did not match the events recorded on tape.

3. If a singular proper noun ends in s, add an apostrophe.

  • Chris' exam scores were higher than any other students.

4. If a noun is plural in form and ends in an s, add an apostrophe only, even if the intended meaning of the word is singular (such as mathematics and measles.)

  • The instructor asked us to analyze ten poems' meanings.
  • The dog catcher had to check all of the dogs' tags.
  • It is hard to endure the Marine Corps' style of discipline.

5. If a plural noun does not end in s, add 's.

  • Many activists in Oregon are concerned with children's rights.
  • Everyone was disappointed with the American media's coverage of the Olympics in Atlanta.

6. If there is joint possession, use the correct possessive for only the possessive closest to the noun.

  • Clinton and Gore's campaign was successful.
  • She was worried about her mother and father's marriage.
  • Beavis and Butthead's appeal is absolutely lost on me.

7. If there is a separate possession of the same noun, use the correct possessive form for each word.

  • The owner's and the boss's excuses were equally false.
  • The dog's and the cats' owners were in school when the fire broke out.

8. In a compound construction, use the correct possessive form for the word closest to the noun. Avoid possessives with compound plurals.

  • My father-in-law's BMW is really fun to drive.
  • The forest ranger's truck is painted an ugly shade of green.
  • Your neighborhood letter carrier's job is more difficult than you imagine.


Capital letters are used with:

1. Names and titles of people

  • Winston Churchillb.
  • Marilyn Monroec.
  • the Queen of Englandd.
  • the President of the United Statese.
  • the Headmaster of Etonf.
  • Doctor Mathewsg.
  • Professor Samuels.

Note: The personal pronoun 'I' is always written with a capital letter.

2. Titles of works, books etc.

  • War and Peaceb.
  • The Merchant of Venicec.
  • Crime and Punishment
  • Tristan and Isolde

3. Months of the year

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

4. Days of the week

  • Saturday
  • Sunday
  • Monday
  • Tuesday
  • Wednesday
  • Thursday
  • Friday

5. Seasons

  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Autumn
  • Winter

6. Holidays

  • National Day
  • Eid Al Fitr
  • Eid Al Adha
  • New Year's Day

7. Geographical names...

  • names of countries and continents
  • names of regions, states, districts etc.
    Costa Brava
  • names of cities, towns, villages etc.
    Cape Town
    Wagga Wagga
  • names of rivers, oceans, seas, lakes etc.
    the Atlantic
    the Dead Sea
    the Pacific
    Lake Leman
    Lake Victoria
    Lake Michigan
    the Rhine
    the Thames
    the Nile
  • names of geographical formations
    the Himalayas
    the Alps
    the Sahara
  • Adjectives relating to nationality nouns
    France - French music
    Australia - Australian animals
    Germany - German literature
    Arabia - Arabic writing
    Indonesia - Indonesian poetry
    China - Chinese food
  • Names of streets, buildings, parks etc.
    Park Lane
    Central Avenue
    Pall Mall
    George Street
    Sydney Opera House
    Central Park
    Hyde Park
    the Empire State Building

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.