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What is a Noun?

The definition of a noun is simple: A noun is a person, a place, a thing or an idea. For example:
  • Person: boy, girl, doctor, Tom
  • Place: city, France, street, home
  • Thing: computer, apple, money, glass
  • Idea: love, emotion, beauty
The word noun comes from the Latin word nomen that means 'name'

The problem is that some words can have the same form for different parts of speech. For example, the word love can be a noun or a verb. 

Here are three ways to recognize a noun 

1. Word ending

There are some word endings (suffixes) that help show what part of speech a word is
  • er - player
  • ness - happiness
  • ment - government
  • dom - freedom
  • ship - friendship

2. Position in a sentence

We often use nouns after determiners. (a determiner is a word such as 'a', 'the' 'this', 'my', 'some' etc. that shows how the noun is being used):
  • a book
  • the newspaper
  • my friend
  • that film
  • a few photos
We often use nouns after adjectives.
  • a big house
  • red wine
  • my small dog
  • many difficult exercises
  • a beautiful white flower

3. Function in a sentence

Nouns can have any of the following three functions.
  • Subject of a verb: Doctors work very long hours.
  • Object of a verb: I am painting the walls.
  • Object of a preposition: They met on a flight.
Note that a pronoun or a noun phrase can also be the subject or object in a sentence.

Grammar Cards



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