What is a Noun?The simplest definition of a noun is a thing and nouns are the basic building blocks of sentences. These things can represent a person, animal, place, idea, emotion – almost any thing that you can think of. Dog, Sam, love, phone, Chicago, courage and spaceship are all nouns. The more nouns you know in a language, the better you will be able to communicate your ideas. Here, we’ll take a closer look at what makes a noun a noun, and we’ll provide some examples of how nouns are used. Noun examples: respect, faith, apple, seashore, peanut, motorcycle Noun examples in the following sentences are in bold for easy identification.
- The boy and girl were holding hands as they crossed the bridge on the way to town.
- I love watching my cat play with the pink yarn.
- It is raining! Everyone, grab your umbrella and rain hat and watch out for the puddles!
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Categories of NounsThere are several categories of nouns, and there can be an overlap across the categories. For example, there are common and proper nouns, and concrete and abstract nouns, yet some nouns are both concrete and common, or concrete and proper. It will become clear as you read on. Common nouns are the words that refer to most general things: country, evening, laughter, puppy, umbrella Common noun examples in the following sentences are in bold for easy identification.
- Cathy loves the weekends in the country.
- We enjoy swimming after breakfast.
- The cup fell and broke.
- Emily loved spending time with her Aunt Nancy in Paris.
- Buick and Jeep are two important carmakers.
- We visited Lake Erie, which separates the United States and Canada.
- The person threw the rock across the yard.
- My dog, Oreo, jumped in the air and caught the ball!
- Can you smell the soup, John?
- Love and friendship are equally important.
- Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
- Your mind can know a million things.
- There are five dogs in the street.
- I bought three tons of coal.
- Margaret has six pairs of blue sandals.
- Love is in the air.
- The four elements are air, earth, fire and water.
- Her humor knows no bounds.
- The team threw confetti when it was over.
- Steve buys the band some sandwiches.
- Meredith told the class she was getting married.
Forms of NounsThe same noun can appear in different forms, depending on how it is used. A countable noun can be singular or plural. Most nouns in English form the plural by adding -s or -es to the noun, although there are some exceptions:
- One dog, two dogs, red dog, blue dog.
- I missed not just one bus today, but two buses.
- New York City is one of the grandest cities in the world.
- The air in the countryside and in the city is clean and fresh (not the airs).
- All knowledge is a good thing (not knowledges).
- Florida has mostly warm weather in the winter.
- The light’s color is red. (or: The color of the light is red.)
- The country’s flag has blue stripes. (or: The flag of the country has blue stripes.)
- The hunters’ guns were loaded. (or: The guns of the hunters were loaded.)
- John is nice. – John is the subject of the sentence
- I saw John – John is the simple (direct) object of the sentence.
- I gave John the phone. – John is the indirect object of the sentence.
- I gave the phone to John. – John is the object of the preposition to.
Additional Info About NounsSometimes nouns are used as adjectives, which is referred to as a noun adjunct. In fact, English is amazingly flexible in that almost any noun can also be used as an adjective, though sometimes the use is considered comical or slangy:
- Ocean view – Ocean describes the type of view you would see outside your window.
- Jazz concert – Jazz is specifying what kind of concert is being played.
- Cheese omelet – It’s a certain type of omelet, eggs with cheese. Using a true adjective as in a cheesy omelet means any type of omelet (onion and peppers, mushroom) that has a lot of cheese.
- Dog tired – Really really tired – even though dogs aren’t known to be especially tired.
- Fear Factor – An example of using just any old word as a noun adjunct.