Nouns often need a word called an article or determiner (like the or that). These words usually do not go with other kinds of words like verbs or adverbs. (For example, people do not say "I will the go to school" because go is a verb.) Adjectives can also describe nouns. In English, there are more nouns than any other kind of word.
Every language in the world has nouns, but they are not always used in the same ways. They also can have different properties in different languages. For example, in some other languages, nouns do not change for singular and plural, and sometimes there is no word for the.
Some examples of nouns in English are: time, people, way, year, government, day, world, life, work, part, number, house, system, company, end, party, information.
The history of the word noun[change | change source]
Uses of nouns[change | change source]
Nouns can sometimes describe other nouns (such as a soccer ball). When they do this, they are called modifiers or adjuncts.
There are also verb forms that can be used in the same way as nouns (such as 'I like running.) These are called verbals or verbal nouns, and include participles (which can also be adjectives) and infinitives.
Kinds of nouns and how they are ordered[change | change source]
Nouns are ordered into common nouns, and proper nouns. There are also pronouns. These have commonly been considered a different part of speech from nouns, but in the past some grammars have included them as nouns as do many modern linguists.
Proper nouns[change | change source]
A proper noun (also called proper name) is a name given to individual people, places, companies, or brands. Some examples of proper nouns are: London, John, God, October, Mozart, Saturday, Coke, Mr. Brown, Atlantic Ocean
Proper nouns begin with an upper case (capital) letter in English and many other languages that use the Roman alphabet. (However, in German, all nouns begin with an upper case letter.) The word "I" is really a pronoun, although it is capitalized in English, like a proper noun.
Common nouns[change | change source]
Common nouns are all other nouns that are not proper nouns. Sometimes the same word can be either a common noun or a proper noun, depending on how it is used; for example:
- there can be many gods, but there is only one God.
- there can be many internets (two or more networks connected together), but the largest internet in the world is the Internet.
Number and countability[change | change source]
In English and many other languages, nouns have 'number'. But some nouns are only singular (such as furniture, physics) and others are only plural (such as clothes, police). Also, some nouns are 'countable' (they can be counted, for example, one piece, two pieces) but others are not (for example, we do not say one furniture, two furnitures).
Possessives[change | change source]
Nouns are words for things, and since things can be possessed, nouns can also change to show possession in grammar. In English, we usually add an apostrophe and an s to nouns to make them possessive, or sometimes just an apostrophe when there is already an s at the end, like this:
- This is Sam. This is Sam's cat.
- The woman's hair is long.
- There are three cats. The cats' mother is sleeping.
How adjectives become nouns[change | change source]
Most adjectives become nouns by adding the suffix ness. Example: Take the adjective 'natural', add 'ness' to get 'naturalness', a noun. To see a list of 100 adjectives used in Basic English, click here
Related pages[change | change source]
References[change | change source]
- "noun, a.1" The Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed. 1989. OED Online. Oxford University Press. <http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/display/00327657?keytype=ref&ijkey=56n3orQ0BYHJo>.
- Huddleston, R. & Pullum, G. K. (2002). The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.