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Nouns

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Mark Messer

on 23 January 2014

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Transcript of Nouns

Nouns
What is a noun?
The easy definition: a noun is a person, place, or thing.
a person (or people): a
boy
,

the

woman,

John,
our
team,
my
teacher,

Dr. Smith
,
running,
...
a place (or places): a
city,

California,
the
beach,
the
cafeteria,
the
Smithsonian Museum
, the
heavens
,...
a thing (or things): a
table,

King Kong
,
milk,
your
car,

data,
the
Hope Diamond
, . . .
What are characteristics of ALL nouns?
What are characteristics of SOME nouns?
All nouns are common or proper.
All nouns are concrete or abstract.
All nouns are countable or uncountable.
Common nouns are general and proper nouns are specific (the names of people, places, or things).
Here are some common nouns: a
city
,
a
student
,
my
teacher
,
religion
,
the
dog
,

love
,
Here are some proper nouns:
London
,

Billy White
,
Mrs. James
,
Buddhism
,
a
Labrador Retriever
,...
Concrete nouns are nouns you can perceive with any of the five senses (taste, touch, sight, hearing, and smell). Abstract nouns are nouns that you cannot perceive with those senses (things like concepts, ideas, emotions, . . .).
Here are some concrete nouns:
pizza
,
a
church
,

Michael
,

smoke
,

music
,
the
Sun
,
. . .
Here are some abstract nouns:
religion
,

Christianity
,

anger
,

friendship
,
a
theory
,
. . .
Countable nouns can be counted; uncountable nouns (mass nouns) cannot be counted. Some words may have a countable meaning and an uncountable meaning.
Here are some countable nouns with cardinal (counting) numbers: one
dog
, two
apples
,
three
dollars
,
four
religions
,
five
Victors
,
. . .
Here are some uncountable nouns:
money
,

advice
,

electricity
,
anger
,
Buddhism
,
rice
, . . .
Most uncountable nouns have one or more "unit" words to allow counting: a piece of
advice
, 100 watts of
electricity
, an incident of
anger
, a grain of
rice
, a cup of
rice
, a . . .
You can tell us "how much" of many uncountable nouns using other words and phrases: a lot of
money
, too much
electricity
, not enough
rice
, a little
anger
, . . .
Here are some other nouns that have countable and uncountable meanings:
coffee
, two
coffees
(meaning two cups);
sugar
, three
sugars
(meaning three spoons of sugar in your coffee);
water
, one
water
(meaning one bottle/glass of water); . . .
Some nouns are group nouns. A group noun denotes a collection of people or things that is considered to be a unit. In the U.S., most group nouns are singular, but in the U.K., most are plural. For example, in the U.S., we say "The basketball team is on the bus," but in the U.K., they say "The basketball team are on the bus."
Here are some group nouns: our
team
, the
community
, the
faculty
, my
committee
, the
Congress
, the
Senate
, the
school board
, a
council,
the
department
, a
class
, . . .
What is a noun's role in a sentence?
How can I identify a noun?
Which nouns don't look like nouns at first glance?
A noun can be a subject. A subject is very important in knowing what the sentence is about. You might say it's the star of the sentence. Look at some sample sentences with subject nouns in
blue.
A noun can be an object, and there are three kinds of objects. Objects of prepositions, direct objects, and indirect objects.
A noun can be a predicate noun. While a predicate is everything other than the subject, a predicate noun is different. A predicate noun follows a linking verb (not an action verb) and is equal to, or the same as the subject. For example, in the sentence "Mr. Smith is a nice
man
," "Mr. Smith" is the subject, "is" is a linking verb, and "
man
" is equal to Mr. Smith.
Linking verbs are verbs which connect subjects to predicate nouns ("I am a
teacher
") or to predicate adjectives ("I am hungry").
The
woman
ate an apple.
(Who
ate an apple? The
woman
)
The
dog
ran away.
(What
ran away? The
dog
)
Some sentences are about subjects doing.
Some sentences are about subjects being.
Two
sisters
are coming to the party.
(Who
are coming? Two
sisters
)
Some
mice
ate my pizza. (What ate
my pizza
? Some
mice
)
The
accident
scared me. (What scared me? The
accident
)
Walking
will help me lose weight. (What will help me?
Walking
)
My
dog
is friendly (What is friendly? My
dog
)
Sharon
became a doctor. (Who became a doctor?
Sharon
)
The
dog
feels wet. (What feels wet? The
dog
)
Ten
dollars
will be enough. What will be enough? Ten
dollars
)
direct objects:
indirect objects
objects of prepositions
to
John
from
Maine
with
cheese
for seven
days
until
Tuesday
despite her
anger
Objects of prepositions are easy to understand. They are part of prepositional phrases (to +
Mary
= to
Mary
). FYI, prepositional phrases act like adjectives or adverbs. Here are some objects of prepositions in prepositional phrases.
Direct objects are not as easy to understand. You can say that they are the nouns which verbs act on, but it can also be helpful to think of them as the answer to this question: "What was 'verbed'?" Of course, the verb tense won't always be past tense, so you could also ask "What will be 'verbed'?" or any other similar question. In the sentence "John bought a car," what was bought? a
car.
The direct object is
car.
I gave the ball to
John
.
She came from
Maine
.
Give me bread with
cheese
.
She swam for seven
days
.
Bob is staying until
Tuesday
.
She didn't shout despite her
anger
.
I gave Bill a
cake.
What did I give? a
cake
Jesse kissed
Paula.
Whom did Jesse kiss?
Paula
They love
chocolate!
What do they love?
chocolate
Ben broke Susan's
heart
.
What did Ben break? Susan's
heart
.
Indirect objects are also not easy to understand, but they can be understood by thinking about "to whom" or "for whom" the verb was done. For example, in the sentence "I bought
John
a cake," the cake was bought for
John
.
John
is the indirect object, and cake is the direct object. If you think a word is an indirect object, change it to the object of a preposition (try 'to' or 'for'). If the two sentences have the same meaning, then the word IS an indirect object. For example, change "I bought
John
a cake" to "I bought a cake for
John
." Do the sentences have the same meaning? Yes, so John is an indirect object in the first sentence.
I gave
Bill
a
cake.

To whom did I give a
cake? to
Bill
Bill gave
Tanya
a kiss on the cheek.

To whom did Bill give a kiss? to
Tanya
Sharon tossed
Naomi
a hat. To whom did Sharon toss a hat? to
Naomi
predicate nouns
Bart is a good
guy
.

Bart =
guy
My best friend became my
wife
. friend =
wife
2.2 pounds equal a
kilogram
. 2.2 pounds = a
kilogram
Your brother is a
problem
! brother =
problem
by understanding what it does in the sentence
(Is it a subject, an object, or a predicate?)
by looking for adjectives, articles, and other words which come before nouns
by looking for noun suffixes (word endings)
If a word comes after a preposition (there may be some adjectives between the word and the preposition), it is an
object
of a preposition (a kind of noun).
If a word tells us "who" or "what" does or is,
it's a subject noun.
James
baked a cake for Ellen.
Who baked a cake for Ellen?
James
The
tree
fell.
What fell . . . ? the
tree
The
movie
became interesting after about 20 minutes.
What became . . . ? the
movie
Your
dog
looks like a rat.
What looks like . . . ? your
dog
Susan
is a vampire.
Who is . . . ?
Susan
If a word tells us "who" or "what" was 'verbed' by the subject noun, it's a direct object noun.
James baked a
cake
for Ellen.
What was baked by James? a
cake
The falling tree smashed the
roof
of my car.
What was smashed . . . ? The
roof
of my car.
Velma wrote
Doris
a song.
For whom did Velma write a song? for
Doris
If a word tells us "to/for whom" or "to/for what" something was done, it's an indirect object noun.
James baked
Ellen
a cake.
For whom did James bake a cake?
Ellen
I sent
Kris
a letter.
To who did I . . . ?
Kris
The school threw the
mayor
a party.
For whom did the school throw a party? the
mayor.
James baked a cake for
Ellen
.
(Here, "for Ellen" clearly tells us for whom James baked.
It doesn't tell us what kind of cake.)
James baked a cake for the
party
. (Here, is "for the party" like "for Ellen"? or does it tell us about the cake? Probably it tells us "for what" not "what kind."
James baked a cake for
fun
. (Here, "for fun" is not like "for Ellen." It tells us why he baked the cake.)
James baked a cake with Ellen. (Here, "with Ellen" tells us about baking, not about a cake.)
James baked a cake with chocolate chips. (Here, "with chocolate chips" tells us about the cake, not about baking.)
I gave Bill the box on the table. (Here, "on the table" tells us which box.)
I gave Bill the box on the table in the living room. (Here, in the living room tells us about the table.)
I gave Bill the box on the table in the living room of Dave's house. (Here, "of Dave's house" tells us about the living room.)
I gave Bill the box on the table in the living room of Dave's house after work. (Here, "after work" tells us when. It does not tell us about Dave's house."
If a word is connected to the subject with a linking verb, and if it is "equal to/the same as" the subject (not an adjective describing the subject), it is a predicate noun.
My favorite fruit is
pizza
.
(my favorite
fruit
=
pizza
)
One inch equals 2.54
centimeters
. (inch = 2.54
centimeters
)
My wife is a police
officer
. (wife =
officer
)
Kim is becoming a good
cook
. (Kim =
cook
) It is true that someone could say that Kim is not a good cook yet, so Kim does not equal good cook, but she will be a good cook in the future. "Kim" and "cook" tell us about the same person.
a
dog
(The word
"
dog
"
follows the article "a," so "
dog
" must be a noun.)
the
cat
(The word "
cat
" follows the determiner "the," so
"
cat
" must be a noun.)
an
apple
(The word "
apple
" follows the article "an," so "
apple
" must be a noun.)
my
book
(The word "
book
" follows the determiner "my," so "
book
" must be a noun.)
this
argument
(The word "
argument
" follows the determiner "this," so "
argument
" must be a noun.)
black
socks
(The word "
socks
" follows the adjective "black," so "
socks
" must be a noun.)
difficult
problem
(The word "
problem
" follows the adjective "difficult," so "
problem
" must be a noun.)
his black
socks
(The word "
socks
" follows BOTH the determiner "his" and the adjective "black," so "
socks
" must be a noun.
these stinky old
socks
(Here, even more words tell us that the word "
socks
" is a noun.)
Some suffixes (-tion, -ery, ence/ance, -th, -ment, -ure, -ness,
-ship, -ty, -ice, -cian, etc.) are used to make only nouns, so if you find them at the end of a word, that word must be a noun.
Some suffixes, like -al, can be used to change some words into nouns, but other words into adjectives, so words that end in them MAY be nouns. You can use other ways to find out if these words are nouns.
Proposal
is a noun, but comical is an adjective.
Journal
is a noun, but electrical is an adjective.
Social is usually an adjective (There are many social benefits to attending school), but it can also be a noun which means an event, like a party, where people meet (Let's go to the spring
social
this weekend.)
Education
,
introduction
, and
profession
are nouns
.
Bravery
,
bribery
,
thievery
, and
machinery
are nouns.
Performance
,
audience
, and
appearance
are nouns.
Width
,
length
,
and
strength
are nouns.
Excitement
,
argument,
and
improvement
are nouns.
Pleasure
,
furniture,
and
failure
are nouns.
Quickness
,
gentleness
, and
sleepiness
are nouns.
Leadership
,
friendship
, and
ownership
are nouns.
Loyalty
,
safety
, and
equality
are nouns.
Justice
,
prejudice
, and
malice
are nouns.
Electrician,

musician
, and
politician
are nouns.
Some nouns, called gerunds, are made from the -ing form of verbs. Look at the following examples of gerunds used in different sentences. Note that gerunds can be subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, or predicate nouns.
Some nouns, called infinitives, are the "to" forms of verbs. Look at the following examples of infinitives used in different sentences. Note that infinitives can be subjects, direct objects, and predicate nouns, but not indirect objects.
Running
in the winter is risky, but
running
in the summer is fun. (subject nouns)
Janet loves
sleeping
in the sun.

(direct object noun)
Bob gave
running
credit for his health.

(indirect object noun)
My favorite sport is
running
. (predicate noun)
To fall
in love is a wonderful experience. (subject noun - not as common as the gerund
falling
)
I want
to build
a house someday. (direct object noun - cannot be replaced with the gerund after "want")
She tried
to build
a house. (direct object noun - can be replaced with the gerund)
Her dream is
to build
a house someday. (predicate noun - cannot be replaced with the gerund)
Full transcript