VIDEO FOR NOUN
We Asked: How Do You Remember The Definition Of A "Noun"?
How do you remember what a noun is? This poet has a unique way of thinking about a noun's meaning ...
Origin of noun
grammar notes for noun
As we see from its dictionary definition, a noun can name not only a physical thing but also abstract things such as a state ( happiness ) or a quality ( beauty ). The word is defined further in terms of the way it functions in the language—as a subject or object in a sentence or as the object of a preposition. In any of those positions, it can be modified by an adjective or adjective phrase: a talented but quirky artist.
Nouns are typically said to fall into two categories: proper noun and common noun. A proper noun designates a particular person, place, or thing and is normally capitalized: Shakespeare, Mexico, the Pentagon. A common noun refers to a generic person, place, or thing: teacher, classroom, smartphone. The plural form of a common noun names a set or group. (Proper nouns are pluralized only in special circumstances: There are many Springfields in the United States. Oh, no, the Smiths are coming to dinner again. )
To form the plural, most common nouns simply add an -s ( teachers, classrooms, smartphones ). Some nouns ending in –o (but not all) add -es. Nouns ending in the sounds [ch], /tʃ/, [j], /dʒ/, [sh], /ʃ/, [zh], /ʒ/, [s], /s/, or [z] /z/ also have plurals ending in -es ( bus/buses, ash, ashes, judge/judges ). Several nouns form the plural in a different way. These include child/children, knife/knives, and a number of others. Some nouns have a plural form identical to that of the singular: sheep/sheep. Seven English nouns form their plural by changing the vowel in the middle of the word: woman/women, man/men, goose/geese, tooth/teeth, foot/feet, louse/lice. (Can you think of the seventh one?*) And then, of course, there are nouns borrowed from other languages that keep their non-English plurals ( bacterium/bacteria, chapeau/chapeaux, kibbutz/kibbutzim ).
But not all nouns can be pluralized. Thus we have another way to categorize nouns. Those that can be thought of in the plural are called count nouns; the things they name can be counted and enumerated. Other nouns, called mass nouns or noncount nouns, name things that are usually not counted, even when the amount grows larger. This class includes nouns that refer to a substance ( water, sand, oxygen, electricity ), a quality ( kindness, honesty ), or an abstract concept ( happiness, health ). There are exceptions: some substances can be spoken of in the plural if you are referring to various kinds ( The wines of France are known throughout the world ) or to units or containers of the substance ( We’ll have three coffees and two teas ).
Certain other nouns that name something relatively concrete, like furniture, flatware, hardware, and software, are also treated as mass nouns. This means that in English we do not say “This computer comes with the latest softwares.” Nor do we say “I’m buying a furniture” (although we can buy a couch or a table ), since mass nouns normally cannot be immediately preceded by “a,” “an,” or a numeral. Instead, we use the singular form even when referring to large quantities, saying things like “a lot of software” or “too much furniture.” This distinction between count nouns and mass nouns, complex though it may seem, is pretty much absorbed automatically if you grow up speaking English. But it can be one of the most difficult things to assimilate for people learning English as a foreign language. The answer? Read, read, read. And listen.
OTHER WORDS FROM nounnounal, adjectivenoun·al·ly, adverb
Words nearby noun
MORE ABOUT NOUN
What is a noun?
A noun is a word used to refer to a person, place, or thing, such as Tayla, Peru, and dog. A noun can also refer to an abstract concept, such as peace, and an activity, like hunting.
Nouns work with verbs to make sentences, such as Cats run or Water flows. Nouns can act as the subject or the object of a sentence, as in Steve runs marathons. They can be singular (flower) or plural (flowers).
Common nouns refer to things broadly or generically. They don’t refer to a specific thing and aren’t capitalized. Common nouns include words like sports, hamburger, and trash.
Proper nouns refer to specific people, places, or things that often have names. Proper nouns are capitalized and include words like Tuesday, Russia, Albert Einstein, and Microsoft.
Abstract nouns refer to ideas and things that can’t actually be experienced with our senses. These nouns include words like anger, economy, and strength. The opposite of abstract nouns are concrete nouns, which are things we can experience with our senses, like books and ice cream.
A collective noun is a noun that refers to a group that acts as a single unit or is performing an action at the same time. Collective nouns include words like squad, herd, and gang.
The majority of the words in the English language are nouns, and new ones are added all of the time as the world changes around us.
Why is noun important?
he first records of the term noun come from around 1350. It ultimately comes from the Latin word nōmen, which means “name.” Unsurprisingly, the English word name also comes from nōmen. Nouns are the names we have given to all of the things and ideas that are a part of life.
Sometimes, we replace a noun in a sentence with a type of word known as a pronoun. Words like I, you, him, and her are pronouns and can serve all the same roles in a sentence as nouns.
We use words known as adjectives to describe or modify nouns. Adjectives usually give more details about nouns by describing their qualities or traits. Adjectives include words like happy, big, slow, and smart.
Learn more about nouns in our article about them here.
Did you know … ?
Sometimes, the same noun can have two different meanings depending on whether it is capitalized. This often happens when proper nouns take their names from common nouns. For example, cats is a common noun for feline animals, while Cats is a 1981 musical composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
What are real-life examples of noun?
This chart gives some more examples of different kinds of nouns.
|baboons||common noun, plural, concrete|
|The Great Wall of China||proper noun, singular, concrete|
|wish||common noun, singular, abstract|
|dreams||common noun, plural, abstract|
|army||common noun, singular, concrete, collective|
Nouns are the majority of the words we use in English.
— Brock Vereen (@brockvereen) May 6, 2016
Is anyone else bothered when proper nouns aren’t capitalized? Or is that just me?
— Childish Blackdino (@dele_ogunrinola) February 20, 2019
Which of the following words is a noun?
How to use noun in a sentence
His own writing is invariably clear, his prose tautly built on nouns and verbs.‘The Queen’s Gambit’ is a bestseller, but its author, Walter Tevis, was hardly a one-hit wonder|Michael Dirda|February 3, 2021|Washington Post
Entities are things, people, places, or concepts, which may be represented by nouns or names.How NLP and AI are revolutionizing SEO-friendly content [Five tools to help you]|May Habib|December 29, 2020|Search Engine Watch
He said at the time that 99% of search queries on Yahoo have a noun in them.Google Search gets deeper into the ‘real-world’ with Busyness, Duplex and AR in Maps|Greg Sterling|October 16, 2020|Search Engine Land
This nesting of proper nouns helps to make higher math impenetrable not just to outsiders, but also to working mathematicians trying to read their way from one subfield into another.Why Mathematicians Should Stop Naming Things After Each Other - Issue 89: The Dark Side|Laura Ball|September 2, 2020|Nautilus
Following the social science usage of the time, Mead never employed the term gender in anything other than a linguistic sense, such as nouns that might be classed as feminine, masculine, or neuter.Gender Is What You Make of It - Issue 88: Love & Sex|Charles King|August 5, 2020|Nautilus
The proper noun when spoken can be confused for the common noun.
The noun “mechanicals” refers to any physical reproduction of a composed and performed work—that is, “canned music.”Van Dyke Parks on How Songwriters Are Getting Screwed in the Digital Age|Van Dyke Parks|June 4, 2014|DAILY BEAST
“The Great Depression” as a proper noun only came into popular use in the 1950s, long after the event was over.
When I shut off the radio, the last word I hear must be a noun—not a verb, or adjective, or preposition.
Star Trek (noun) Science-fiction franchise launched on television in 1966.‘Star Trek’ for Dummies: Get Ready for ‘Into Darkness’ With Our Primer|Sujay Kumar|May 14, 2013|DAILY BEAST
I can find no authority for making it a collective noun, as Bell suggests.Chaucer's Works, Volume 1 (of 7) -- Romaunt of the Rose; Minor Poems|Geoffrey Chaucer
This often becomes an abstract feminine noun, answering to the French termination -ée; armée in Mistral's language isPg 56 armado.Frdric Mistral|Charles Alfred Downer
On the other hand, when the words “a black” are heard, the mind constructs no image; it waits until the noun modified is spoken.
In balanced sentences one part is balanced against another,—a noun and a noun, an adjective and an adjective, phrase and phrase.
The words pendulum and intensity were first used by him, and it was he who first used fluid as a noun.Stories That Words Tell Us|Elizabeth O'Neill
British Dictionary definitions for noun
- a word or group of words that refers to a person, place, or thing or any syntactically similar word
- (as modifier)a noun phrase
Derived forms of nounnounal, adjectivenounally, adverbnounless, adjective
Word Origin for noun
Cultural definitions for noun
The part of speech that names a person, place, thing, or idea. The following words are nouns: child, town, granite, kindness, government, elephant, and Taiwan. In sentences, nouns generally function as subjects or as objects.