VIDEO FOR NOUN
WATCH NOW: 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 ...
THIS WEEK’S WORD OF THE DAY QUIZ IS POSITIVELY FELICIFIC
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 nounnoun·al, adjectivenoun·al·ly, adverb
Words nearby noun
Example sentences from the Web for 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
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.
Vulcan (noun) Alien humanoids who live by logic and reason and suppress emotion.
The word is a verb being used as a noun to describe $85 billion in defense and domestic discretionary cuts to the federal budget.
Ete and tede give the sense of sounding, elele gives the sense of using whatever the noun expresses.The Mafulu|Robert W. Williamson
Every Proposition must have a noun and a verb — it must be proposition of Something.
The word noun signifies name, and nominative is the adjective derived from noun, and partakes of the same meaning.Lectures on Language|William S. Balch
Chromatic (noun)—a term somewhat loosely applied to any tone not belonging to the key as indicated by the signature.Music Notation and Terminology|Karl W. Gehrkens
Case is that modification of a noun or a pronoun which denotes its relation to other words in the sentence.Business English|Rose Buhlig
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.