what are nouns

What is a Noun?

noun (noun): a word (except a pronoun) that identifies a person, place or thing, or names one of them (proper noun)

The simple definition is: a person, place or thing. Here are some examples:

  • person: man, woman, teacher, John, Mary
  • place: home, office, town, countryside, America
  • thing: table, car, banana, money, music, love, dog, monkey

Note that any of the above can also be referred to by a pronoun. And note that names like John or America are called “proper nouns”.

The problem with the simple definition above is that it does not explain why “love” is a noun but can also be a verb.

Another (more complicated) way of recognizing a noun is by its:

  1. ending
  2. position
  3. function

1. Noun ending

There are certain word endings that show that a word is a noun, for example:

  • -ity → nationality
  • -ment → appointment
  • -ness → happiness
  • -ation → relation
  • -hood → childhood

But this is not true for the word endings of all nouns. For example, the noun “spoonful” ends in -ful, but the adjective “careful” also ends in -ful.

2. Position in sentence

We can often recognise a noun by its position in the sentence.

Nouns often come after a determiner (a determiner is a word like a, an, the, this, my, such):

  • relief
  • an afternoon
  • the doctor
  • this word
  • my house
  • such stupidity

Nouns often come after one or more adjectives:

  • a great relief
  • a peaceful afternoon
  • the tall, Indian doctor
  • this difficult word
  • my brown and white house
  • such crass stupidity

3. Function in a sentence

Nouns have certain functions (jobs) in a sentence, for example:

  • subject of verb: Doctors work hard.
  • object of verb: He likes coffee.
  • subject and object of verb: Teachers teach students.

But the subject or object of a sentence is not always a noun. It could be a pronoun or a phrase. In the sentence “My doctor works hard”, the noun is “doctor” but the subject is “My doctor”.

What Are Nouns? (with Examples)

Nouns are words that represent people, places, or things. Everything we can see or talk about is represented by a word. That word is called a “noun.” You might find it useful to think of a noun as a “naming word.”

Often a noun is the name for something we can touch (e.g., “lion,” “cake,” “computer”), but sometimes a noun names something we cannot touch (e.g., “bravery,” “mile,” “joy”).

Easy Examples of Nouns

Here are some examples of nouns. (Notice that some have capital letters. The reason for this is explained in the next section on “Common Nouns and Proper Nouns.”)

  • Person: soldier, Alan, cousin, lawyer
  • Place: house, London, factory, shelter
  • Thing. This includes:
    • Objects: table, London Bridge, chisel, nitrogen, month, inch, cooking
    • Animals: aardvark, rat, shark, Mickey
    • Ideas: confusion, kindness, faith, Theory of Relativity, joy

Most nouns can be pluralized, which usually involves adding “s” to the end (e.g., “aardvark” becomes “aardvarks”).

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