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Nouns Person, place, thing, idea, or quality Proper noun vs. common nouns o Common nouns The vast majority of nouns are common nouns. Common nouns represent unnamed or unspecific people, places, things, or ideas. They are not capitalized. Examples: dog, pen, truck, tissue, stapler, woman, worker, student, father, room, hallway, mountaintop, arena, grade, honesty, thought, child, house, grass, notebook, cat, shoe, selfishness, godliness, dishonesty, childhood, integrity, mother, cup, cell phone, stadium, police, cardiac hospital, car, joy, happiness, the white house, apple, Fiji apple, McIntosh apple, bugles, etc. o Proper nouns (also known as “proper names”): Proper nouns include people’s names, titles, nicknames, days of the week, months of the year, buildings, regional places, brands, planets, etc. They generally are capitalized. Examples: John, Debra Sue, Michael Jordan, Tiny, Ford Taurus, American Airlines Center, Methodists, First Methodist Church of Wylie, the Rocky Mountains, Mt. Everest, Huckleberry Finn, Of Mice and Men, “Pants on the Ground,” February, Pluto, the White House, Mars, Cadillac DeVille, Angel Fire, God, Allah, Buddah, Ukraine, Nissan Altima, Dr. Smith, U.S. Navy, Tuesday, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, Ramadan, George Bush, W., Father’s Day, English, Gatorade, the Grand Canyon, McDonald’s, JC Pennys, Wal-Mart, Melissa, M’Lissa, Malissa, Melisa, Apple, Barack Obama, the Caribbeans, the Pacific Ocean, the Pacific, Jesus Christ, Von Qui Qui, Shanana, The Martin Lawrence Show, Sweetness, New Year’s, Prince Edward Island, Wall Street Journal, etc. Some words are capitalized because they are based on proper nouns. Most often, this happens with adjectives. Methodist church, German shepherd, Hershey bar, American pit bull, Stafford pit bull, English professor, Quaker oatmeal, Please note: the nouns these adjectives are modifying are not capitalized because they are common nouns. “English Professor” or “American History” would be wrong. Some people are tempted to capitalize words they perceive as important, but it is generally a mistake. So…. even though “algebra” is an important school subject or the “police” are brave public servants, we do not capitalize them, for they are not proper nouns. Possible exception: if a common noun part of the title (of a book, of a course, of an event, etc.), it gets capitalized. For example, “statistics” isn’t normally capitalized, but if you are taking “Statistics 2301,” it would be because that is the name of the course, and, as such, it is treated as a proper noun. Similarly, a “spring dance” would not be capitalized, but if the event were named (i.e., Spring Fling), the words would be capitalized. Common Suffixes identifying words as a noun (not an exhaustive list) o -ist(s), -er, -or, -ism, -ness, -ment, -tion. –ation, -ion, -hood, -ence, -or, -ress, -ty EXAMPLES: government, writer, singer, actor, actress, scientist, sweetness, nation, gradation, intelligence, patience, breathing, worker, thinking, happiness, fidelity, neighborhood, sentence, employer, action, patriotism, retirement, artist, artists, university, etc. Not every word that has these word ending are nouns, so understand this information as a common pattern rather than an absolute rule. You still have to see a word used in a sentence and compare it against the basic definition of a noun: person, place, thing, quality, or idea. Example: Despite being interrogated for hours, he would not confess to the crime. “Confess” in this sentence is a verb, not a noun. It describes an action, not a person, place, or thing. As some of the earlier examples indicate, nouns are often created from adjectives, verbs, or other parts of speech. For example, “difficult” is an adjective, but adding the suffix “ty” creates the nouns “difficulty,” or adding “ness” to the adjective “bitter” creates the noun “bitterness.” The verb “to dance” becomes “dancer” in the noun form. Sometimes nouns are even created from other nouns as when “art” becomes “artist.” Singular and plural o The most common plural endings are –s and –es. add –s (the most common) fighters, dogs, football players, cars, bleachers, houses, environmentalists, scientists, groups, cookies, bananas, guns, teachers, drugs, trucks, cowboys add –es (often for nouns that already end in “s,” “ch”, and “x”) beaches, benches, foxes, potatoes, glasses, basses, boxes, waitresses, dishes, octopuses o There are numerous exceptions, however drop the y and add –ies for most nouns that end in -y baby/babies, gallery/galleries, company/companies, penny/pennies, city/cities, cry/cries o (there are notable exceptions) the rule does not apply to proper names: Kennedy/Kennedys, Fry/Frys, other exceptions involve words that have a vowel preceding the ending -y: attorney/attorneys, monkey/monkeys, key/keys, cowboy/cowboys odd patterns o child/children, goose/geese, die/dice, ox/oxen, woman/women, mouse/mice, person/people, datum/data some nouns stay the same o fish/fish, sheep/sheep, shrimp/shrimp, moose/moose, money/money (though “monies” is used within the financial world), water/water (though “waters” is often by environmentalists and others used to describe oceans and lakes) o Most native speakers of English get plurals correct instinctively, but dictionaries will confirm how to convert a singular noun to a plural one. Often it will show the information in the way that I’ve done in examples, with a hyphen and the ending letters of the plural version of the word (e.g., –ies), or if it’s a very unusual plural it might write out the plural form completely (e.g., louse pl. lice). Please note that, as a way to save space and ink, many dictionaries will not give the information for nouns following the –s pattern. On the other hand, if a word has two or three variations on how the plural may be formed, a dictionary will generally show you all of them (e.g., octopuses/octopi or genitals/genitalia) o You cannot create a plural noun with an apostrophe—EVER!!!!! Incorrect: three CD’s, MP3’s, 1980’s, ‘60’s, 10’s and 20’s, ten’s and twenty’s, orange’s, DVD’s Correct: three CDs, MP3s,1980s, 1960s, ‘60s,10s and 20s, tens and twenties, oranges, DVDs I grew up in the 1980s. (plural noun) I like 1980’s music. (adjective) I own thousands of DVDs. (plural) The DVD’s case is missing. (adjective) Countable vs. Non-countable nouns o countable nouns can actually be quantified (fairly easily). “flowers,” “towels,” and “fingers,” “cats,” “shoes,” “books,” “socks” “nouns,” “herds,” “rocks,” “bikes” o a dozen flowers, several towels, five fingers, more shoes, four cats, a shelf full of books non-countable nouns are not readily “countable” or they tend to be measured by weight, volume, dimensions, or mass. (FYI: Some grammar books and teachers, refer to non-countable nouns as “mass” nouns.) Examples: “hair” (too many strands to count), “music” (you’d never say “two musics), “water” (measured by cups, gallons, and so forth), etc. Other examples: “spaghetti,” “sugar,” “luggage,” “underwear,” “information,” “furniture,” “paper,” “grass,” “air,” “land,” “population,” “fruit,” “snow,” “glass.”* o * as in a pane of glass, not a drinking vessel A lot of non-countable nouns (not all) can be re-phrased to be countable. Examples: peanut butter/jars of peanut butter, hair/strand of hair, sand/grain of sand, music/piece of music, underwear/pairs of underwear, paper/sheets of paper, grass/blades of grass, glass/pane of glass/piece of glass/shard of glass, air/breaths of air, rain/drops of rain/sheets of rain/inches of rain, etc. Frequently non-countable nouns are abstract nouns: health, chemistry, happiness, swimming, sadness, madness, anger, depression, advice, physics, fear, courage, education, science, etc. One difficult issue with non-countable nouns regards what adjective to use with the nouns to indicate a comparative amount. o I’d like more water, not I’d like greater water. o There were fewer people here today than yesterday, not “There were less people…. o Ten items or fewer (even though the grocery signs say “ten items or less”) o INCORRECT: We want to increase the amount of contributors as well as the amount of the donations. To see more examples and a more complete discussion of countable and non-countable nouns, I encourage you to consult a grammar handbook or a reputable grammar webpage. Below are some links to the Purdue University Online Writing Lab, which I recommend as a good source to supplement your studying. http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/r esource/541/1 http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/r esource/541/02/ http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/r esource/541/03/ Collective nouns o Collect nouns refer to groups consisting of more than one individual or entity Examples include committee, herd, school (of fish, of thought, of painters), army, faculty, flock of birds, battalion, platoon, team, group, band, class, tribe, assembly, congregation, orchestra, fleet, council, club, gang, family, pack, organization, flock of ducks, etc. o Collective nouns can be either singular or plural, depending on context. In writing, this double status often causes agreement errors. How do you tell if a collective noun is singular or plural? What verbs and pronouns do you use with the collective noun? If the members of the group are acting together as a unit, the noun is singular, and therefore, you would use singular verbs and pronouns to match it. Every season, the team votes for its captain. Every season, the team votes for their captain. (error) The jury rendered its verdict of “guilty” in the Haas embezzlement trial. If the members of the group are acting as separate individuals, the noun is plural, and therefore would be accompanied by plural verbs and plural pronouns. After the game, the team showered and changed into their street clothes. As a legal tactic and with an appeal in mind, the defense attorney asked that the jury be polled for their votes. o Student sentences: The army changed its defense plans. (sing) The gang is like my family. (sing) The temple decided to close its doors due to a terroristic threat. (sing) The gang beat up someone in my family. (sing) 1. The football team paraded around the field after winning its first Super Bowl. 2. The band went on a field trip with its director. 3. The Wolf Battalion had its TFI inspection. 4. The team played their positions perfectly. 5. The band couldn’t decide what to play, so the lead guitarist flipped a coin to decide which of its songs to open with. 6. Last season, the team voted against its coaches. (singular or plural?) 7. At the end of the period, the class had their lunches. (singular or plural?) 8. The herd of buffalo was grazing on the green grass. (singular or plural?) 9. The pack of wolves made its way down the ravine toward the lonely deer that was spotted far off. (singular or plural?) 10. The basketball team played hard last night, which resulted in its twelfth win of the young season. (singular or plural?) 11. The committee voted by way of secret ballot. (singular or plural?) 12. Our basketball team won its first state championship in school history. (singular or plural?) 13. The teacher asked the group of students to study for their first exams. (singular or plural?) 14. The band gave its best performance at the ballpark. (singular or plural?) 15. After three straight losses, the basketball team went out of its way to practice harder with its coach. (singular or plural?) How to identify nouns when you see them o Many times (though not all the time), nouns are preceded by articles (a book, an owl, the mirror), various types of adjectives (green beans, my brother, several students), or even both (a purple purse, the noisy child) o Sometimes, the adjectives used in front of nouns look a lot like nouns themselves, but if a word’s main function is to describe the word that follows it, it is an adjective (even if, in another sentence, the same word could be used as a noun). o I ordered a slice noun of lemon adj cake noun at the deli adj counter noun. o I ordered lemon noun with my tea at the deli noun. In the examples below, the noun is in turquoise. Notice how often they are preceded by articles and adjectives (highlighted in grey). In a few cases, you might notice that a noun ends with one of the suffixes we discussed earlier, which often help you to identify a noun as a noun. And of course, don’t forget the basic noun test: is the word being used to represent a person, place, thing, quality, or idea. o I went to the college for admission, but there was a long line, so I decided to register online. o On my way to the school, I saw a pink, cute-looking car. o The last time that my cousin called she said that she was moving out of Texas. o Yesterday, I had a big piece of cheesecake after I ate my dinner. o The event was sponsored by an older man who broke his arm at the stadium. o I was asked about the book, and I said it was hers. o Jenna is the mom, and Ashley is the daughter. o John went to the mall with his friend Michael to buy some costumes for the party. o While I was on my lunch break, I saw Jack walking his dog at Bob Woodruff Park. o The tigers at the zoo like eating fish, pork, or beef in a secluded area. o Laura was sent to the hospital for a chest x-ray after her doctor’s office visit. Concrete vs. abstract o Concrete nouns are physical things or places Examples: paper, clock, eyebrows, rose, gum, head, watch, dog, rock etc. o Abstract nouns represent intangible things and concepts. Examples: freedom, love, intensity, difficulty, religion, faith, fate, memory, destiny, distance, etc. o Some nouns seem capable of being both concrete and abstract at the same time. Examples: fake, performance, assignment, etc. o In a lot of ways, whether a noun is abstract or concrete isn’t all that importance, but a lot of beginning grammar students don’t recognize abstract nouns as nouns. They tend to focus on “person, place, or thing” and overlook “quality or idea,” and most abstract nouns fall into the latter categories. A nouns is a part of speech, but parts of speech play certain roles, or functions, within sentences. Some functions are played on by certain parts of speech, and, vice versa, some parts of speech only function certain ways. Nouns, however, are pretty versatile. They appear all over sentences, playing various roles and occupying certain functions. Nouns most often serve in the following capacities: subject, direct object, indirect object, object of the preposition, subject complement, etc. o Before looking at examples, please note, we will focus on some of these concepts more thoroughly later, but this discussion previews those future lessons. o A prepositional phrase is a group of words that begins with a preposition and ends with the object of the preposition. They are frequently included in sentences as a way to add description and information to whatever we are writing. The object of the preposition is always either a noun or a pronoun (down the street, to the woman, under the covers at the end of the bed). o Nouns often serve as the subject of a sentence. The subject is the thing/person doing whatever the verb says. The girl sang. Joan sang. o Nouns can serve as a direct object of an action verb or as the subject complement of a linking verb. Jason hit a homer. (A direct object is said to receive the action of the verb and answers the question, what did Jason hit?) (“Jason,” by the way, is a proper noun serving as the subject of the sentence.) He is an accountant. (A subject complement—in this case a predicate noun—is said to rename the subject, and answer the question, what is he? Subject complements are only used with linking verbs.) o Nouns can serve as indirect object of an action verb. I baked Mary a cake. (An indirect object indicates the person/thing that received the direct object, usually asking the question for whom or to whom? Here the direct object--a cake--was baked for Mary. o Example sentences: The woman from Minnesota sang the national anthem during the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Sarah was the winner of several talent shows and was chosen to perform tonight after a long audition process. The performance was a success, and the crowd cheered and applauded for her. After dealing with a long evening the previous night, she chose to gargle with lemon juice and water before she performed again. Upset that he lost the tennis match (direct object), John (subject) threw his racquet (direct object) across the net (object of the preposition), and when his opponent (subject) came over to the sidelines (object of the preposition) to shake his hand (direct object), he spit in the man’s face (object of the preposition). Later in the week (object of the preposition), John (subject) was fined a substantial amount (direct object) of money (object of the preposition) by the World Tennis Federation (object of the preposition), which said its organization (subject) would not tolerate such bad sportsmanship (direct object). o After hearing on the radio (object of the preposition) that there was a tornado watch (subject), we all sought shelter (direct object). o The penguin (subject) jumped into the ocean (object of the preposition) from the glacier (object of the preposition) in search of food (object of the preposition) for his hungry family (object of the preposition). o During the spring season (object of the preposition) in Ohio (object of the preposition), we used to get tornado watches (direct object) almost every week (part of adverb an phrase). o The tornado (subject) from Houston (object of preposition) damaged the mall (direct object) of our town (object of the preposition). o Today, I got out of my work (object of the preposition) around six o’clock (object of the preposition), got in my car (object of preposition), and started to drive when, suddenly, I started to hear a very strong noise (direct object). I bought my daughter (indirect object) a plastic elephant (direct object) at the zoo’s gift shop (object of the preposition). The tiger (subject) jumped over the fence (object of preposition), walked freely among the people (object of the preposition) in the zoo (object of the preposition), and created a panic (direct object). The zookeeper (subject) was sent to the hospital (object of the preposition) after he was mauled by one of the tigers (object of the preposition) during the routine feeding time (object of the preposition). The lions (subject) at the zoo (object of the preposition) were chasing each other around their cage (object of the preposition) as we watched from the picnic table (object of the preposition) where we were resting. The zoo (subject) is near the amusement park (object of the preposition), and the park (subject) is beside the bookstore (object of the preposition). Gerunds are “verbals,” which are words that are based on verbs. Gerund function as nouns (whereas other verbals function as modifiers). o Gerunds end in –ing “skiing,” “writing,” “whistling,” “cooking,” “swimming,” and “dancing” o Please that gerunds can be a little tricky because at first glance, the –ing suffix makes them look like regular verbs. Just remember that the basic rule that a noun is a person, place, thing, quality or idea is still applicable with gerunds. In I enjoy hiking, “hiking” is a thing, an activity, a noun. In When I was hiking, I saw a squirrel, “hiking” is an action, a past tense verb. Sometimes, -ing words can function as adjectives (as in camping gear), so again, remember, not every –ing word is a gerund. Examples that involve a lot of –ing words (only some of which are gerunds): I enjoy cooking (gerund) so much, I’m considering (verb, am considering) enrolling in culinary school. In my sewing (adjective) class, the teacher was noticing (verb) the embroidering (gerund) I put on the dress I was making (verb), and she complimented me on my skills. The stitching (gerund) on my hiking (adjective) boots is unraveling (verb), so I’m thinking (verb, am thinking) about returning (gerund) them to the camping (adjective) store. o There are a few special grammar rules about gerunds that you can read about later, but the most violated one is that they should be used with possessive adjectives. Many inexperienced writers incorrectly use objective case pronouns or nouns instead of the required possessive form. Hence, it would be My husband’s snoring keeps me up at night (not My husband snoring keeps me up at night). My typing leaves a lot to be desire. Jerry’s excessive revving of his motorcycle engine has contributed to the bike’s stalling at nearly every intersection (not Jerry excessively revving his motorcycle engine has contributed to the bike stalling at nearly every intersection).