In a former post, titled, “Parts of Speech”, I have already mentioned that the words we speak can be divided to the following eight main classes, called Parts of Speech, on the basis of their use.
In this article, we shall explain about nouns and different kinds of nouns in detail.
What is a noun?
A noun is a word which refers to the name of person, place, thing, animal, an idea, event or a quality. It is the second most important class of Parts of Speech, first being Verb. Nouns make up the largest class of words.
Examples of noun:
- Person: man, John, girl etc.
- Place: America, plateau, valley etc.
- Thing: book, football, cup, etc.
- Animal: dog, cat, elephant etc.
- Idea: trick, happiness, grief etc.
- Event: meeting, convention, accident etc.
- Quality: beauty, ugliness, attraction etc.
Depending upon the function, there are several different types of nouns, as follows:
- Common noun.
- Proper noun.
- Concrete noun
- Abstract noun
- Collective noun
- Countable noun
- Uncountable (mass) noun
- Compound noun
A common noun is the name given to a class of person, thing, or places .Common means shared by all.
- Flower (It can refer to any flower)
- Country (It can refer to any country)
- City (It can refer to any city)
- Girl (It can refer to any girl)
- Boy (It can refer to any boy)
- River (It can refer to any river)
Common nouns are capitalized only when they start a sentence.
A Proper noun is a noun which refers to a single person, place, or something to make it specific.
Examples of proper noun:
- John – (refers to only one particular person.)
- London – (refers to only one City. There is no other city named London)
- Mary – refers to one particular girl.
- Nile – refers to one particular river
Proper nouns are always written with a capital letter at the beginning.
Sometimes proper nouns are metaphorically used as common noun.
- Kalidasa is considered the Shakespeare of India. (Meaning, the greatest dramatist)
Concrete noun refers to the things you can see or touch (e.g., book, cloud, etc.).Concrete nouns can be countable, non countable, common, proper, or collective nouns
Abstract nouns are things you cannot see or touch (e.g., bravery, joy) that is, they are intangible.
Abstract nouns are usually the name of a quality, action or state.
The names of art and science (Grammar, Physics, and Music etc.) are abstract nouns.
Abstract nouns can be formed from adjectives, verb, and common nouns.
- Kindness from kind
- Happiness from happy
- Sadness from sad.
Most of the abstract nouns are formed like this, i.e., from adjective.
- Hatred from hate.
- Argument from argue.
- Obedience from obey.
From common noun
- Motherhood from mother.
- Childhood from child
- Heroism from hero.
Although abstract nouns are intangible, they can be counted as separate units and can be singular or plural, according to the situation.
- Emergency -Obviously this is an abstract noun.
As singular- There was an emergency in the hospital today.
As plural – There were several emergencies in the hospital yesterday.
As singular – One week ago, a conversation was held between the fathers of the boy and the girl.
As plural – Afterwards several conversations were held and the marriage was fixed.
Collective noun is the name of a collection of person, animals, or things taken together and spoken as one whole.
- Crowd – A collection of people.
- Team – A group of players.
- Flock – A group of birds
- Herd – A group of cattle
- Shoal – A group of fishes.
- Class – A group of students
- Army – A collection of soldiers.
- Pride – A group of lions.
Collective noun- Singular or plural
Collective nouns usually function as singular nouns though they are plural in the true sense. That is a group is taken as one single unit and considered as singular.
- On Sundays the family eats out.
- A herd usually stays together.
- The class is going for a picnic today.
- The jury has found the prisoner guilty.
- The litter of kitten was born in the shed.
If the members of the group are acting as individuals, plural should be used.
- The family while eating out, eat from different restaurants
- The litter of kitten are running here and there.
- The jury were divided in their opinion.
There are a few collective nouns that can be used in plural only.
Examples of some of them are given below.
- Children – The children are playing in the playground.
- People – The local people use water of this well for drinking purpose.
- Cattle – Cattle like green grass.
- Police – The police are trying to catch the thief as quickly as possible.
What are Countable nouns?
As the name indicates, Countable nouns are the name of the nouns which can be counted as one, two, three, and so on. These nouns can take the indefinite artcles, a or an (if there is only one person or thing) or they can be used in the plural form.
Examples of countable nouns:
- Book Three books
- Umbrella Several umbrellas
- Pencil 10 pencils
- Boy Five boys
- Girl Many girls
Sentences with countable nouns as subject and third person pronouns which represent them in the sentence:
If a third- person pronoun represents a countable noun, care should be taken to use the correct singular or plural form.
Singular- When a noun is singular and names a person whose gender is known, and then we use the third -person singular pronoun, he, him or his (for masculine) or she, her, or hers (for feminine). For example:
- My uncle left early, so I did not get a chance to talk to him. (Here uncle is masculine singular, so the pronoun (him) used is third- person, singular, and masculine.)
- My mother asked me not to disturb her while she was taking a cat nap. (Here ‘mother‘ is in singular, and feminine, the pronouns (her and she) used are singular third person and feminine.
- I read this book; I did not like it. (Here,’ book’ is neutral gender, singular and hence the pronoun, it, representing’ book ‘ also is neutral, third person, and singular.
Plural – When a noun is in plural, we use the same type third – person plural pronoun to represent it. That is, they, them and theirs. For example:
- The babies are so cute that I cannot take my eyes off them.
- The children should know about their duties.
- The students know which bags are theirs.
Subject – verb Agreement
As the countable nouns can be either singular or plural, it is very important to use the correct subject verb agreement when they are functioning as subject of a clause.ie; Singular subjects need singular verb, and plural subjects need plural verb.
- My daughter goes to school by bus. (“Daughter“, the subject, and “goes“, the verb is in singular).
- Four girls from my locality go to school by a car.(“Four girls“, the subject, and “go” the verb are In plural)
(“Be” verbs change much according to the number and person of the subject. Other verbs do not change much. Conjugation of verb and Subject – verb Agreement shall be explained in detail in the post,” Conjugation of Verb and Agreement of verb with Subject”.)
Note: The plural unit words of amount, time, and distance are taken as singular and singular verbs must be used with them. Example:
- 10 miles is a long way to walk. (Mile is a countable noun; but 10 miles is taken here as a single unit and the singular ” is ” is used.
- $20 is not a big amount for you. ($20 is considered as singular).
- Wait for 15 minutes, please. 15 minutes is not a long time.
Uncountable (mass) noun
Name of anything that cannot be counted is called an uncountable or mass noun.
Most of the uncountable nouns come under one of the following categories.
1. Concept – E.g.; anger, grief, love, thirst.
2. Activity – E.g.; cooking, frying, action, sewing, theft
3. Food – E.g.; rice, wheat, sugar, meat, milk
4. Gas – fluorine, ozone, nitrogen, oxygen,
5. Liquid – water, oil, kerosene, petrol, wine
6. Material – Cloth, wood, coal, fire, iron
7. Natural phenomenon – storm, rain, moisture, wind, thunder.
Uncountable nouns cannot take the articles, “a” or “an” before them. But when a specific uncountable noun is being used, the definite article “the” has to be used before the noun. For example,
I am going to buy some new furniture.
The furniture I have at home is very old and outdated.
Uncountable nouns are always singular. In case the quantity is much, we should
Say, “a lot of “, “plenty of “etc.
You should drink plenty of water during summer.
Compound noun: Compound nouns are nouns made up of more than one word. The word thus formed has a new meaning.
- Mother- in-law.
- Car park
- Bus stop
- Root cause
- Station master
Compound nouns can be formed three ways which are given below:
Open compound nouns– These words are formed combining two words separately.
- Car park
- Dining room
- Ice cream
- Bus stop
Closed compound nouns: Closed compound nouns are formed combining two words together to form a single compound noun. These are also called solid compound nouns
Hyphenated compound nouns:
These compound nouns are formed by joining two or more words, using hyphens.
- Mother- in- law
There are many Compound nouns formed with an adjective and a noun:
- Full moon
- White paper
There are many Compound nouns formed with a noun and a noun:
- Bus stop
- Bus stand
Adjective+noun and noun+noun combinations are the most common. But other combinations also exist.
- Mother – in- law
- Father – in – law
- Brother – in -law
- Son – in- law
- State of the art
- Sit out
Work sheets on the above topic will be posted afterwards in a separate post.