English Grammar: Nouns

A Noun is a word used as the name of a person, place or thing.

For example,

  • Asoka was a wise king.

The noun Asoka refers to a particular king, but the noun king might be applied to any other king as well as to Asoka. We call Asoka a Proper Noun, and king a Common Noun.

Common Noun

A Common Noun is a name given in common to every person or thing of the same class or kind. 

Proper Noun

A Proper Noun is the name of some particular person or place. Proper Nouns are always written with a capital letter at the beginning.

Proper Nouns are sometimes used as Common Nouns. For example, 

  • He was the Lukman (= the wisest man) of his age.
  • Kalidas is often called the Shakespeare (= the greatest dramatist) of India. 

Collective Noun

A Collective Noun is the name of a number (or collection) of persons or things taken together and spoken of as one whole. For example:

  • Crowd, mob, team, flock, herd, army, fleet, jury, family, nation, parliament, committee.

Abstract Noun

An Abstract Noun is usually the name of a quality, action, or state considered apart from the object to which it belongs. For example:

  • Quality - Goodness, kindness, whiteness, darkness, hardness, brightness, honesty, wisdom, bravery.
  • Action - Laughter, theft, movement, judgment, hatred.
  • State - Childhood, boyhood, youth, slavery, sleep, sickness, death, poverty.

The names of the Arts and Science (e.g., grammar, music, chemistry, etc.) are also Abstract Nouns.

Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Another classification of nouns is whether they are countable or uncountable.

Countable nouns are the names of objects, people, etc. that you can count. For example, book, pen, apple, boy, sister, doctor, horse.

Uncountable nouns are the names of things which you cannot count. For example, milk, oil, sugar, gold, honesty. They mainly denote substances and abstract things. 

Countable nouns have plural forms while uncountable nouns do not. For example, you say books but we cannot say milks.

Noun: Gender

You know that living beings are of either the male or the female.

  • Boy (Lion, Hero, Cock-sparrow)
  • Girl (Lioness, Heroine, Hen-sparrow)

A noun that denotes a male animal is said to be of the Masculine Gender. A noun that denotes a female animal is said to be of the Feminine Gender. 

A noun that denotes either a male or a female is said to be of the Common Gender. For example, Parent, child, friend, pupil, servant, thief, relation, enemy, cousin, person, orphan, student, baby, monarch, infant. 

A noun that denotes a thing that is neither male nor female (thing without life) is said to be of the Neuter Gender. For example, Book, pen, room, tree. 

Noun: Number

There are two Numbers in English - the Singular and the Plural.

A Noun that denotes one person or thing, is said to be in the Singular Number. For example, Boy, girl, cow, bird, tree, book, pen. 

A Noun that denotes more than one person or thing, is said to be in the Plural Number. for example, Boys, girls, cows, birds, trees, books, pens.

Noun: Case

When a noun (or pronoun) is used as the Subject of a verb, it is said to be in the Nominative Case. To find the Nominative, put Who? or What? before the verb. 

When a noun (or pronoun) is used as the Object of a verb, it is said to be in the Objective (or Accusative) Case. To find the Accusative put, Whom? or What? before the verb and its subject. 

A noun which comes after a preposition is also said to be in the Accusative Case.