Parts of Speech - Nouns

What are Nouns?

It is very simple, yet a little difficult to answer the question. Nouns, in their simplest forms, can be said to be “things”. So, it could be any thing like a shoe, a cigar, a notepad or a building. No size, shape, volume or length is necessary for classifying a “thing” as a noun. It can be intangible, too. For example: happiness, sadness, numbness. It could be a living thing. For example: a human being, a goat or a plant. So you see a noun-classification is a pretty broad one. It is an all-encompassing classification for anything that is in your surroundings at any moment.

Let’s get a little more specific now.

A noun is any of the following: a person, a place or a thing.

• Person: lady, mister, man, woman, girl, Steven, Linda

• Place: house, garden, beach, city, village, Australia, U.S.A.

• Thing: teapot, apple, dvd, dog, plant

Get the idea? There is a little glitch though. How do we know when a word acts like a noun and when does it act like a verb? There are certain words that can function in both the avatars. Example: the word “pay” can be used both as a noun (the money a person receives) and as a verb (act of giving someone the money.)

To counteract this problem, let’s make the definition more specific.

How to Recognize Nouns

A noun can also be recognized by looking at the word’s ending, positions, and its functions.

1. Endings: Here’s a list that makes up noun-endings.

• “ity” as in “commonality”

• “ness” as in “happiness”

• “ment” as in “enjoyment”

• “ation” as in “declaration”

• “hood” as in “childhood”

However, this only applies to a set of endings as above. Not all noun-endings can be used to recognize nouns.

2. Position: A noun is seen in a sentence often-times after a determiner word (a, an, the, this, much, etc.) or after an adjective.

After a determiner:

• a pen

• the pencil

• this show

After an adjective:

• a quiet evening

• a hurried affair

• this slow music

• my little teapot

3. Function: A noun has a specific function in a sentence. It can be a subject of the verb, and object of the verb or both, a subject and an object of the verb.

In the examples below, nouns are bold:

• Subject of the Verb: “Painters paint the wall.”

• Object of the Verb: “Tina drank milk.

• Both: “Nurses assist doctors.”

This approach is also not workable sometimes. In sentences where pronouns are used at the beginning, the subject of the verb is not only a noun but also a pronoun.

Example: My patients are cautious.

Here, “patients” is a noun, but the subject of the verb is “My patients”. So, don’t rely only on this approach and look at the sentences well before concluding anything.

Look Again at Verbs

Return From Nouns To Parts of Speech Overview

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