What is a Noun?

According to the ancient definition- Noun is the name of a person, place, and thing. It is taken from a Latin word nomen, meaning ‘name’.

On a broader perspective Noun is anything that has a name or anything you can talk about.

Moreover,nouns usually appear as subject or object in a sentence. Which means they are either talked about, or they perform an action or they are the receiver of an action. Understanding this makes it easier to spot a noun in a sentence. Let us look at a few examples.

Examples:

  • John is the topper of our class. (here John is the name of a person and here we are talking about John)
  • I am here to buy mangoes. (here mangoes is the name of a fruit which is a thing)
  • She proved her intelligence. (here intelligence is the name of an abstract thing or idea)
  • That wooden table is antique. (here table is the name of a thing)

Some more Examples:

  • Person: Ram, Michael, Lata, Lilly, Doctor, Scientist.
  • Place: India, Paris, Delhi, School, Temple.
  • Animal: Horse, Dolphin, Tiger, Peacock, Cat.
  • Feelings/Opinion: Happiness, Clever, Bravery, Smartness, Faith.
  • Thing: Pen, Tree, Car, Board, Knife, Milk.

So, whenever we take a name or call out to someone or something, we refer to a Noun.

It is important to have a deep knowledge of this topic so as to have good understanding of the language. Noun has different aspects. So, to study it in-depth, we need to know noun- types, number, gender and cases.

Nouns are broadly classified into five types:

Proper Noun:

Nouns that are names of specific person, place or thing are said to be proper nouns. Anything that is unique falls under this category. These include the names of individuals, dignified objects (like earth, sun), monuments, countries, cities, and names of natural objects (like rivers, mountains). Usually preceded by article ‘the’.

Common Noun:

These denote a general class. They do not point any unique object. Like student, house, tree, bus, boy, board, etc. They never take a specific name.

Collective Noun:

When common nouns are grouped together, they form a collective noun. They can be both singular and plural. Like army, jury, assembly, orchestra, constellation, herd, etc.

Material Noun:

Material nouns are names of materials or substances which are used as raw materials for other things. Like, milk, gold, oil, water, wool, cotton, plastic, etc.

These are tangible goods. This means you can see and touch them. They have a physical form. And material nouns are always uncountable. This means they are not counted rather, weighed, or measured.

Abstract Noun:

Nouns that have no physical form and are only abstract ideas such as feelings and opinions, come under this category. (Like beauty, anger, excitement, love, etc.)

There are two more types of nouns Concrete Nouns and Compound Nouns.

Concrete Noun:

Nouns that have physical form comes under this category. These are the opposite of Abstract Nouns. (For example car, mango, house, glass, etc.)

Compound Noun:

Nouns that are made of two words are called Compound Nouns. These are usually a combination of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and prepositions. (For example football, toothbrush, swimming pool, bypass, dining room, etc.)

Countable and Uncountable Noun:

Nouns that exist in units are called countable nouns. These are those nouns that we can count. These exist in definite and distinct form. Like, tree, car, teacher, men, girl, book, etc.

Nouns that we cannot count are called uncountable. Uncountable nouns are either weighed or measured or noun. Like, water, milk, sand, oil, cloth, gold, silver, sugar, rice, etc.

Number in noun tells us about the count of a noun. And there are two numbers when we talk bout nouns: Singular and Plural. Moreover, there are various ways to form the plural of a noun. This usually depends on the last letters of the words.

SINGULARPLURAL
PencilPencils
CycleCycles
KeyKeys
StudyStudies
WolfWolves
MangoMangoes
ChildChildren

Cases in noun tell about the position and role of the noun in a sentence. It is another important topic in noun. There are Five cases in all.

NOMINATIVE or SUBJECTIVE CASE:

When a noun acts as the subject of a verb in a sentence, it is said to be in the nominative or subjective case. Questions with What is made if the noun is a thing. If the noun is a person than Who is used to make question.

Example: James decorated the room for her birthday.

ACCUSATIVE or OBJECTIVE CASE:

When a noun acts as the object of a verb in a sentence, it is said to be in accusative or objective case. Question with What is made if the noun is a thing. If the noun is a person than Whom is used to make the question.

Example: She questioned Samantha.

DATIVE CASE:

When a noun acts as an indirect object of a verb in a sentence it is said to be in the dative case. Indirect objects are those to whom or for whom the verb is done. They are second to experience the verb.

Example: She gave her book to Samantha.

POSSESSIVE CASE:

Possessive case shows the possession, ownership or authority of a noun. That is this case shows a relationship between two nouns or between a noun and a pronoun.

Example: Marco’s house, Sam’s bicycle, Address of school.

VOCATIVE CASE or NOMINATIVE OF ADDRESS:

When a noun is addressed or called out in a sentence than that noun is said to be in the vocative case. Another thing to remember is to separate the vocative noun from the rest of the sentence with the help of a comma.

Example: Ricky, come here.

Gender is another way of classification of nouns. There are four genders in grammar. And these are very different from biological gender classification.

MASCULINE GENDER:

Nouns recognized as male falls under this category. Like king, men, bull, brother, father, uncle, dog, etc.

FEMININE GENDER:

Nouns recognized as female falls under this category. Like queen, princess, girl, nun, mother, cow, aunt, etc.

COMMON GENDER:

Nouns that cannot be recognized as either male or female. However, we know they belong to one of either gender. But, one cannot identify this gender. Like a doctor, engineer, carpenter, student, lawyer, judge, etc.

NEUTER GENDER:

This gender is used for a noun to whom no gender can be assigned. They are usually collective nouns or non-living things. For instance table, ball, car, book, ocean, school, army, jury, etc.

Nouns is a vast and important topic of English grammar. Above, all topics are covered in-depth with an ample number of examples.

After having knowledge of types of nouns, their number, gender and cases, it is also important to know their correct usage. For this we need to know some rules.

These rules are really important for ESL and all exams that have English as a subject. Some of these rules are particular type of noun based. Some are extended uses of nouns. These rules will further increase our understanding and deepen our knowledge of nouns.

Also read: