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WHAT ARE NOUNS?

Nouns

A noun is a word for a person, place, or thing. (You might like to think of nouns as "naming" words.) Everything we can see or talk about is represented by a word that names it. That "naming" word is called a noun.

Often a noun will be the name for something we can touch (e.g., lion, cake, computer), but sometimes a noun will be the name for something we cannot touch (e.g., bravery, mile, joy).

Everything is represented by a word that lets us talk about it. This includes people (e.g., man, scientist), animals (e.g., dog, lizard), places (e.g., town, street), objects (e.g., vase, pencil), substances (e.g., copper, glass), qualities (e.g., heroism, sorrow), actions (e.g., swimming, dancing), and measures (e.g., inch, ounce).

 

Examples of Nouns

 

Here are some more examples of nouns

 

    • soldier, Alan, cousin, Frenchman
    • (These are nouns representing

people

    • rat, zebra, lion, aardvark
    • (These are nouns representing

animals

    • house, London, factory, shelter
    • (These are nouns representing

places

    • table, frame, printer, chisel
    • (These are nouns representing

objects

    • lead, nitrogen, water, ice
    • (These are nouns representing

substances

    • kindness, beauty, bravery, wealth, faith
    • (These are nouns representing

qualities

    • rowing, cooking, barking, reading, listening
    • (These are nouns representing

actions

    • month, inch, day, pound, ounce
    • (These are nouns representing measures)

 

Common Nouns and Proper Nouns

A noun can be categorized as either a common noun or a proper noun.

A common noun is the word used for a class of person, place, or thing (e.g., person, city, dog).

A proper noun is the given name of a person, place or thing, i.e., its own name (e.g., Michael, New York, Rover). (Note: A proper noun always starts with a capital letter.)

Here are some more examples of common nouns and proper nouns:

 

Common Noun Proper Noun
boy David
sailor Adam
lawyer Sarah
mother-in-law Janice
town Milton Keynes
bridge The Golden Gate Bridge
tower Eifel Tower
street Honeysuckle Crescent
cat Fido
monkey Bonzo

 

The Different Types of Nouns

A noun can usually be further categorized depending on its meaning (e.g., Is it something tangible?) or its structure (e.g., Is it made up of more than one word?).

Below is a list of the different types of nouns with examples:

Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns are things you cannot see or touch. For example:

  • bravery
  • joy
  • determination

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns are words that denote groups. For example:

  • team
  • choir
  • pack

Collective nouns can be treated as singular or plural. It depends on the sense of your sentence. For example:

  • The team is scheduled to arrive at 4 o'clock.
  • The team are wearing different novelty hats.

Read more about treating collective nouns as singular and plural.

Compound Nouns

Compound nouns are nouns made up of more than one word. For example:

  • court-martial
  • pickpocket
  • water bottle

Some compound nouns are hyphenated, some are not, and some combine their words to form a single word.

Concrete Nouns

Concrete nouns are things you can see or touch. For example:

  • tree
  • hammer
  • cloud

Non-countable Nouns

Non-countable nouns (or mass nouns) are things you cannot count. For example:

  • food
  • music
  • water

Gender-specific Nouns

Gender-specific nouns are nouns that are definitely male or female. For example:

  • king
  • vixen
  • actress

 

Verbal Nouns

 

Verbal nouns are nouns derived from verbs. (Verbal nouns have no verb-like properties.) For example (verbal nouns shown in bold)

 

  • a good building
  • a fine drawing
  • an effective attack

 

In the examples above, the verbal nouns are shown with adjectives to differentiate them from gerunds (which are often confused with verbal nouns). Gerunds are modified with adverbs not adjectives.

 

Gerunds

 

Gerunds are nouns that end -ing and that represent actions. (Gerunds have verb-like properties.) For example (gerunds shown in bold):

 

  • happily building a tower
  • quickly drawing the scene
  • suddenly attacking the enemy

 

In the examples above, the gerunds are shown with adverbs and direct objects to differentiate them from verbal nouns (which are often confused with gerunds).