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NOUNS - The necessity in Grammar

A noun is a word that names something, such as a person, place, thing, or idea. In a sentence, nouns can play the role of subject, direct object, indirect object, subject complement, object complement, appositive, or adjective.

Types of Noun

1. Proper Noun: A proper noun refers to the name of a person, place or thing.

Example: Ram, Alwar, Tom etc.

In each of the following sentences, the proper nouns are highlighted:

(a) Ram is my friend.

(b) I live at Alwar.

(c) He is Tom.

2. Common Noun : A common noun is a noun referring to a person, place or thing in a general sense–usually, you should write it with a capital letter only when it begins a sentence.

Example: King, boy, girl, city etc.

In each of the following sentences, the common nouns are highlighted:

(a) According to the sign, the nearest town is 80 km away from here.

(b) All the gardens in the neighbourhood were invaded by beetles this summer.

(c) The road crew was startled by the sight of three large cats crossing the road.

3. Collective Noun : A collective noun is the name of a group of persons or things taken

together and spoken of as a whole, as unit: Team, Committee, Army.

In each of the following sentences, the highlighted word is a collective noun:

(a) The flock of geese spends most of its time in the pasture.

The collective noun ‘‘geese’’ takes the singular verb ‘‘spends.’’

(b) The jury is dining on take-out chicken tonight.

In this example the collective noun ‘‘jury’’ is the subject of the singular compound verb ‘‘is


(c) The steering committee meets every Wednesday afternoon.

Here the collective noun ‘‘committee’’ takes a singular verb, ‘‘meets.’’

4. Material Noun : A material noun is the name of metal or substance, of which thing are made of.

Example: Silver, Iron, Wood etc.

The highlighted words in the following sentences are all material nouns

(a) The necklace is made of gold.

(b) She has purchased a tea set of silver.

(c) He got his furniture made of teak wood.

5. Abstract Noun : Abstract noun in general refers, the name of quality, action or state. Example: Honesty, Bravery (quality), Hatred, Laughter (action), Poverty, Young (state). Art and Science.

The highlighted words in the following sentences are all abstract nouns

(a) Buying the emergency lights was an afterthought.

(b) Justice often seems to slip out of our grasp.

(c) It is believed that schizophrenia is transmitted genetically.

Other Kinds of Noun

1. Countable Nouns : A countable noun is a noun with both a singular and a plural form, and it names anything (or anyone) that one can count.

In each of the following sentences, the highlighted words are countable nouns:

(a) We painted the tables red and the chairs blue.

(b) She found six silver dollars in the toe of a sock.

(c) The oak tree lost three branches in the hurricane.

2. Non-Countable Nouns : A non-countable noun is a noun which does not have a plural form, and which refers to something that one cannot usually count. A non-countable noun always takes a singular verb in a sentence.

Non-countable nouns are similar to collective nouns, and are the opposite of countable


The highlighted words in the following sentences are non-countable nouns:

  1. J Priestly discovered oxygen. The word ‘‘oxygen’’ cannot normally be made plural. Since ‘‘oxygen’’ is a non-countable noun, it takes the singular verb ‘‘is’’ rather than the plural verb ‘‘are.’’

  2. They decided to sell the furniture. We cannot make the noun ‘‘furniture’’ plural. The furniture is heaped in the middle of the room. Since ‘‘furniture’’ is a non-countable noun, it takes a singular verb, ‘‘is heaped.’’

Sometimes a word that means one thing as a noncountable noun has a slightly different meaning as a countable noun.

Remember, then, that the classifications count and noncount are not absolute. Time is a good example.

1. Time is money.

2. One should not waste the time on trifles.

Here use of Time is non-countable.

See the following examples:

(a) On his last visit to Disney world , he climbed Space mountain seven times.

(b) I have called her five times.

(c) Here time is used as countable.

Recognizing noun

Another (more complicated) way of recognizing a noun is by its:

  1. ending

  2. position

  3. function

1. Noun ending

There are certain word endings that show that a word is a noun, for example:

  • -ity → nationality

  • -ment → appointment

  • -ness → happiness

  • -ation → relation

  • -hood → childhood

But this is not true for the word endings of all nouns. For example, the noun "spoonful" ends in -ful, but the adjective "careful" also ends in -ful.

2. Position in sentence

We can often recognise a noun by its position in the sentence.

Nouns often come after a determiner (a determiner is a word like a, an, the, this, my, such):

  • a relief

  • an afternoon

  • the doctor

  • this word

  • my house

  • such stupidity

Nouns often come after one or more adjectives:

  • a great relief

  • a peaceful afternoon

  • the tall, Indian doctor

  • this difficult word

  • my brown and white house

  • such crass stupidity

3. Function in a sentence

Nouns have certain functions (jobs) in a sentence, for example:

  • subject of verb: Doctors work hard.

  • object of verb: He likes coffee.

  • subject and object of verb: Teachers teach students.

But the subject or object of a sentence is not always a noun. It could be a pronoun or a phrase. In the sentence "My doctor works hard", the noun is "doctor" but the subject is "My doctor".

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