NOUN : RULES

Let us look at some of the most important rules of ‘Nouns’. These rules will allow you to use nouns with confidence and accuracy. Usually, in any exam related to grammar, questions revolve around only these rules.

RULE 1: Some nouns are always used in plural form and take plural verb. 

Nouns that exist in pairs like some instruments, cloths, footwear, accessories and some other.

Instruments: Scissors, Pliers, Tongs, Binoculars, Bellows, Pincers.

Cloths: Jeans, Pants, Trousers, Boxers, Shorts, Breeches, Drawers.

Foot wears: Shoes, Slippers, Sandals, Sneakers, Loafers, Clogs.

Accessories: Glasses, Sunglasses, Spectacles, Googles.

Other Nouns: Riches, Assets, Liabilities, Alms, Surroundings, Earnings, Savings, Remains, Regards, Proceedings, Annals, Fireworks, Crackers and Tidings.

Examples:

  • This is my jeans. (INCORRECT)
  • These are my jeans. (CORRECT)

  • Latest Reebok shoes is my fantasy. (INCORRECT)
  • Latest Reebok shoes are my fantasy.

  • His earnings are not enough to meet the ends.
  • Pliers are handy tools.

  • The right lens of my spectacle is broken. (here we are not considering spectacle as a pair, but we are just referring to its one lens and hence it is considered singular.)
  • His one shoe is torn. (here we are not considering shoe as a pair, but we are just referring to one shoe and hence it is considered singular.)

When phrases like a pair of or a set of are added before these nouns that exist in pairs, they become singular.

  • A pair of scissors was found lying on the floor in our class yesterday.
  • She bought a new pair of sunglasses which is of international brand.

RULE 2: Some nouns appear to be plural but, are singular in meaning and take singular verbs.

Certain nouns end with letter ‘-s’ and appear to be plural but they are singular and take singular verbs.

Mathematics, Physics, Politics, Economics, Numismatics, Linguistics, Optics, Dynamics, Ethics, Mechanics, Athletics, News, Measles, Mumps, Rickets, Innings and Billiards.

Examples:

  • Economics are his strong subject. (INCORRECT)
  • Economics is his strong subject. (CORRECT)

  • Breaking news are continuously flashing on all channels. (INCORRECT)
  • Breaking news is continuously flashing on all channels. (CORRECT)

  • Our teacher said that mechanics is a subject that requires more of practical knowledge.
  • Linguistics is the study of different languages.

Out of these nouns ending with -ics (names of subjects) become plural in one case. When these are used in possessive case (preceded by a possessive pronoun, made possessive using apostrophe ‘s’ or of) they are considered plural nouns and take plural verb.

Examples:

  • His mathematics are
  • The dynamics of this topic are
  • Ethics of journalism are always debated.

RULE 3: Some collective nouns appear to be singular but, are plural in meaning and take plural verbs.

Cattle, Police, Women, Men, Children, People, Crowd, Poultry, Clergy, Gentry, Infantry, Cavalry, and Vermin.

Since these nouns are already plural, we never add suffix ‘-s’ to them. Words like cattles, womens, childrens, crowds, gentries, etc do not exist.

Examples:

  • The police is on its way. (INCORRECT)
  • The police are on their way. (CORRECT)

 

  • Large cattles are found on the plains. (INCORRECT)
  • Large cattle are found on the plains. (CORRECT)

  • The poultry have been fed.
  • The clergy were with the decision of the king.
  • According to the school rules, children coming to campus should carry their own lunch.

RULE 4: Some nouns are singular in form. They are always used in singular form and take singular verb.

Jewelry, Crockery, Furniture, Information, Machinery, Education, Advice, Luggage, Baggage, Percentage, Breakage, Knowledge, Postage, Wastage, Wreckage, Traffics, Coffee, Food, Bread, Stationery and Alphabet.

These nouns are never used in plural form and thus we never add suffix ‘-s’ to them.

Examples:

  • All the furnitures are loaded in the truck. (INCORRECT)
  • All the furniture is loaded in the truck. (CORRECT)

 

  • The receptionist provided her will all the available informations. (INCORRECT)
  • The receptionist provided her will all the available information. (CORRECT)

 

  • The percentages that she secured are difficult to achieve. (INCORRECT)
  • The percentage that she secured is difficult to achieve. (CORRECT)

 

  • We need to buy new machineries for the factory. (INCORRECT)
  • We need to buy new machinery for the factory. (CORRECT)

RULE 5: Certain numeral nouns take ‘-s’ as suffix to form plural only when not preceded by a definite number.

Dozen, Couple, Pair, Score, Hundred, Thousand, Lakh, Crore, Million, Billion, etc.

Case 1: When preceded by a definite number. Do not take ‘-s’ as suffix to form plural.

Examples:

  • Ravi has four dozen
  • Those two pair of shoes I bought from Dubai last week.
  • Japan has invested six thousand US dollars in Indian IT sector.

Case 2: When not preceded by a definite number. They take ‘-s’ as suffix to form plural.

Examples:

  • Ravi has dozens of apples.
  • Those pairs of shoes I bought from Dubai last week.
  • Japan has invested thousands of US dollars in Indian IT sector.

RULE 6: COLLECTIVE NOUNS- Singular or Plural

When all members act together it can be considered either singular or plural.

But when all members of a collective noun differ in opinion or action, they are considered plural.

Examples:

  • The team is practicing for finals. (CORRECT) (here we are looking at the team as a single unit)

 

  • The team are practicing for finals. (CORRECT) (here we are talking with respect to each member of the team which are more than one)

 

If members are not working as a unit than the collective noun is always taken as plural.

  • The family is fighting amongst themselves. (INCORRECT)

 

  • The family are fighting amongst themselves. (CORRECT)

Some more examples:

  • Even after a discussion of three hours, the jury have contradicting views about who should win. (members do not agree with each other thus plural)

 

  • The staff has organized a farewell party for its retiring boss. (act as a unit so either singular or plural)

 

  • The council were unable to reach unison about this amendment. (members do not agree with each other thus plural)

 

  • Finally, the audience were mesmerized with the dance performance. (act as a unit so either singular or plural)

RULE 7: Abstract nouns have NO plural form.

Examples:

  • Kindnesses are his quality. (INCORRECT)
  • Kindness is his quality. (CORRECT)

 

  • His honesties are known to all. (INCORRECT)
  • His honesty is known to all. (CORRECT)

 

  • Teacher scolded her for her selfishnesses. (INCORRECT)
  • Teacher scolded for her selfishness. (CORRECT)

RULE 8: Use of POSSESSIVE CASE.

#1 Apostrophe s is used to make possessive case of only living things.

Remember either apostrophe and an s or preposition of is used to make possessive case of living beings or personified objects. But to make possessive case of a non-living thing we use only preposition of.

Example:

  • Edward’s book – Book of Edward
  • Cat’s ball – Ball of cat
  • London’s queen – Queen of London
  • Uncle’s magazine – Magazine of uncle
  • Shakespeare’s play – Play of Shakespeare or Play written by Shakespeare
  • Window of car (Car’s window – INCORRECT)
  • Roof of the bungalow (Bungalow’s roof – INCORRECT)

#2 For words that already have letter s at the end, to make their possessive case we add only apostrophe without ‘s’.

Possessive with OF INCORRECT CORRECT
Population of Paris
Paris’s population
Paris’ population
Toys of kids
Kids’s toys
Kids’ toys
Hostel of girls
Girls’s hostel
Girls’ hostel
House of Jonas
Jonas’s house
Jonas’ house

#3 When two nouns are in apposition, that is two nouns are used to refer to a single person then the Possessive sign is put to the latter only. (noun that is written second)

Examples:

  • This is Cristopher, his cousin’s book.
  • That is Mr. Charles, my boss’ office.
  • That is Tagore, the poet’s house.

#4 The possessive is also used with nouns denoting time, space, weight and dignified objects.

Examples:

  • A week’s holiday
  • A moment’s delay
  • Aton’s weight
  • At an arm’s length
  • At a stone’s through
  • A foot’s length
  • Earth’s atmosphere
  • God’s grace
  • Sun’s high temperature is due to the continuous nuclear fusion.
  • She missed the opportunity by a second’s
  • Our company organized two day’s seminar on self-worth.

#5 When else is added after an indefinite pronoun to make its possessive  – apostrophe ‘s’ is added to else and not to the indefinite pronoun.

Examples:

  • He likes somebody’s else idea. (INCORRECT)
  • He likes somebody else’s idea. (CORRECT)

 

  • Can I get anybody’s else contact number? (INCORRECT)
  • Can I get anybody else’s contact number? (CORRECT)

RULE 9: Possessive and Plural of COMPOUND NOUNS.

Nouns formed by more than words are called compound nouns. Like, son-in-law, stepmother, commander-in-chief, etc.

#1 To form plural of compound nouns suffix -s is added to the root word.

Examples:

SINGULAR PLURAL
Mother-in-law
Mothers-in-law
Stepdaughter
Stepdaughters
Commander-in-chief
Commanders-in-chief
Maidservant
Maidservants
Man-of-match
Men-of-match
Passer-by
Passers-by
Coat-of-mail
Coats-of-mail

#2 To form possessive case of compound noun we add apostrophe ‘s’ at the end.

Examples:

  • This is my father-in-law’s
  • It is her stepson’s graduation ceremony.
  • We asked her about her sister-in-law’s

RULE 10: To show PROGRESSION in English we use a structure-

           Noun (singular) + Preposition + Noun (Singular)

To show progression we use Noun (singular) + Preposition + Noun (Singular) this structure. Here both nouns should be same and singular.

Examples:

  • The temperature is rising days by days. (INCORRECT)
  • The temperature is rising day by day. (CORRECT)

 

  • The profits are growing month after year. (INCORRECT)
  • The profits are growing year after year. (CORRECT)

 

  • Student after students, the invigilator questioned everyone. (INCORRECT)
  • Student after student, the invigilator questioned everyone. (CORRECT)
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