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Most important rules about nouns to improve your writing

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Previously, we have already spoken about grammar of the English language. At the same time, we forgot to mention NOUNS – the most important part of speech.

GetEssayEditor prepared a quick review of basic grammar rules about nouns. Students can use this article as a help in term paper writing, grammar classes, or simply by any person who is interested in the basics of English grammar.

Short overview

Have you ever thought that the English language mostly consists of nouns? Noun is a part of speech that denotes a thing, person, activity, animal, place or idea. In other words, it is a word that names something. Let us take a closer look at nouns in English and review some examples, along with some general rules for using nouns in a sentence.

The word “noun” was first used in 14th century. The etymology of “noun” traces its roots in different ancient languages:

Middle English “nowne”,

Anglo-French “nom, noun name, noun”,

Latin “nomen”(source - Merriam-Webster’s Learners Dictionary)

A noun can be subject or object of a verb in a sentence, or an object of a preposition.

Examples

Thing - pencil

Person - mother

Activity - football

Animal – dog

Place - London

Idea – freedom

In a sentence: Mother arrived in London to see a football match.

Functions

Nouns function differently in a sentence. They have multiple key functions.  However, it is impossible to recall all of them here, we’ll go over the principal functions of nouns.

-Nouns may function as subjects. Every sentence has its subject, which belongs to the main verb. Subject is a noun that denotes a person or a thing doing the action.  

Maria owns me money. Little boy cried aloud.

-Nouns may function as direct objects. These nouns answer the questions “whom? what?” and follow transitive verbs.

David repaired his old car.

-Nouns may function as indirect objects. These nouns answer the questions “to whom? for whom? for what?” and are the recipients of the direct object.

David bought his son a new car.

-Nouns may function as objects of prepositions. Objects of prepositions are nouns that follow the prepositions and complete its meaning.

He borrowed his car to Melissa.

-Nouns may function as predicate nominatives. Predicate nominatives are the nouns that follow linking verbs (usually the verb ‘to be’).

Watermelon is a berry.

-Nouns may function as object complements. An object complement is a noun following the direct object, which renames it or indicates its state.

He wants to make her happy.

Types of Nouns

There are several types of nouns: proper, common, collective, material, abstract, countable and uncountable nouns.

1. Proper noun is a name of a thing, person or place (for example, London, David, Asia);

2. Common noun is a name that denotes a person or thing, which belongs to the same class or kind (for example, boy, town, girl, etc). Common nouns can be abstract or concrete. Abstract nouns cannot be seen, for example “idea, freedom, independency”. Concrete nouns can be seen by a speaker, for example “window, phone, cup”.

3. Collective noun is the name of a group of persons that are considered as a whole (for example, army, committee, etc.)

4. Material noun denotes numbers and units. They remain singular and require a verb in a singular form.  We do not use articles before material nouns. (For example, “Silver is a metal”).

5. Abstract nouns express emotions, feelings, conditions and quality. They are used in singular form and does not require an article. (For example, “Love is in the air”).

6. Countable nouns are nouns that can be counted. It can denote objects and people. (For example, “apples, sisters, houses”).

7. Uncountable nouns denote things that cannot be counted. (For example, sugar, milk, oil, kindness etc.)

Remember!

1) Some nouns can be used only in plural form. It means that we cannot create a singular form. A plural verb is used along with such nouns.

For Example: scissors, pants, trousers, savings, alms, etc.

Pants are very expensive.  Where are my scissors?

2) There are certain nouns that are singular in meaning, but have plural form. They require singular verb.

For example: Mathematics, news, linguistics, politics, economics, athletics, etc.

Mathematics is a basic subject at school. News starts in an hour.

3) There are nouns that have singular form, but are plural in meaning. They are used along with plural verbs.

For example: children, police, people, cattle, poultry, peasantry, etc.

People are gathering at the main city square. Police have arrested the killer.

4) Uncountable nouns are used with singular verbs and do not require an article.

For example: information, knowledge, bread, poetry, scenery, luggage, jewelry, percentage, music, cost, dirt, hair etc.

Her hair is dark and curly. Tom’s luggage was lost after the flight. Music is my addiction.

5) There are nouns that can be used in both singular and plural forms.

For example: sheep, fish, deer, team, series, crew, species, etc.

A team takes part in a competition. 5 teams take part in a competition.

6) There are common gender nouns that can be used for both male and female.

For example: student, advocate, worker, teacher, author, child, leader, musician, clerk, writer.

A teacher showed us her pictures from London. A teacher should prepare what he is going to do at the lesson in advance. 

There are a lot of rules about nouns that should be learned. Delve deeply and study more features of nouns to improve your knowledge and back it up with examples.   

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