English Grammar Overview - Parts of Speech - Nouns


Let's begin our examination of parts of speech with nouns. Nouns are our naming words. They name a person or people, such as Jack, Jill, brother, Prime Minister. We have a place or places such as kitchen, Tokyo. Things or the things around us: pen, light, camera. We have our concepts and ideas: beauty, democracy. These people, things, places and concepts fall into two basic subcategories. Those subcategories are countable and uncountable. As their name suggests, the differentiation here is whether or not we can count our nouns or if we cannot count them. We have our countable nouns: dogs, pens, are two examples. The very nature of the words means that we can count these nouns one dog or 5, 10. Then, we have our uncountable nouns. The nouns that cannot be separated: music, bread. It's important to notice and be able to identify the difference between countable and uncountable nouns, as often this dictates the rest of our sentence. We have to use certain words with countable nouns and certain words with uncountable nouns. I can say "I have many dogs in my neighborhood." or "I have a few pens here." However, if I want to talk about music or bread, I need to use words such as "I haven't much music at home." or "I have a little bread." Nouns that are uncountable, we cannot normally pluralize them. For example, I cannot say "I have many types of music at home." Further subcategories of nouns include common nouns, proper nouns, compound nouns and collective nouns. A few examples of common nouns would be: brother, city, street. These nouns are not typically capitalized unless they come at the beginning of the sentence. We have our proper nouns. A brother has a name like Tom. Tom needs a capital letter. It is a proper name. You have Tokyo. Tokyo is the proper name of a city and Downing Street. "Downing" needs the capital as it's the proper name of the street. We also have our compound nouns. Compound nouns put two nouns together and they're thought of as. One they can be listed as two words, a hyphenated word or one word, such as lifeboat, bookcase, car park. We also have our collective nouns. Collective nouns are the nouns that group individual things or people together. "Family" is one example. "Family" groups together relatives. We also have "herd", "a herd of cattle". Another example would be "a pride", "a pride of lions".

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