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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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The simplest definition of a noun is that it is a word that refers to a person (such as John or teacher), thing (such as ball or table), place (such as Harvard or university) or idea (such as love or emotion). What is a Noun? Countable and Uncountable noun It's important to identify between countable and uncountable nouns in English.  Common Nouns and Proper Nouns Names of people, places and things are called proper nouns. They always begin with capital letters. All other nouns are common nouns.  Collective Nouns Words such as family, team or bunch are collective nouns. They can be used with either a singular or a plural verb. Abstract and Concrete Nouns If your five physical senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch) cannot detect something, it is an abstract noun.  Gender-specific nouns In some languages, nouns refer to specifically to males or females.  Compound Nouns A compound noun is a noun that consists of more than one word. Verbal

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