Grammar Basics: Nouns

June 6, 2006

Standardized examinations test knowledge of nouns using several methods:

  1. collective nouns in subject/verb agreement errors
  2. countable and uncountable nouns in subject/verb agreement errors
  3. nouns as antecedents in errors in pronoun/antecedent agreement
  4. consistency of noun forms in errors of parallelism
  5. errors in pronoun choice with gerunds

A noun is a person, place, or thing.

  • musician
  • New York
  • guitar

Nouns may be common (musician, city, guitar) or proper (Elvis, New York, Stratocaster).

Nouns can be subjects or objects.

Bob ate the cookie.

  • "Bob" is the subject: he ate.
  • "Cookie" is the object: it was eaten.

Bob gave the cake to Sam.

  • "Bob" is the subject: he gave.
  • "Cake" is the direct object: it was given.
  • "Sam" is the indirect object: the cake was given to him.

A linking verb links a subject with a predicate that describes the subject. When a subject is linked to a noun, the noun is called a predicate nominative.

Bob is a man.

  • "Bob" is the subject.
  • "Man" corresponds to the subject: it is the predicate nominative.

Some nouns are countable (one guitar, two guitars, three guitars), and others are uncountable (one music? two musics? No.) The difference between countable and uncountable nouns is important in distinguishing between the usage of "number" and "amount."

Collective nouns describe groups and some can take singular or plural verbs and pronouns depending on context. These are a few common collective nouns:

  • team
  • jury
  • class
  • flock
  • police
  • herd

When a collective noun is performing an action as a single unit, use singular verbs and singular pronouns to refer back to the noun.

The class is going on a field trip with its teacher.

The class is going as a unit. The whole class has a teacher.

When the individual members of a collective noun are acting individually within the group, use plural verbs and pronouns to refer back to the noun.

The class are taking their books with them.

The individual members are taking individual books.

Certain forms of verbs can act as nouns. A gerund is a verb ending in "-ing" that acts as a noun.

I like swimming, hiking, and dancing.

An infinitive is the base form of a verb combined with "to." An infinitive can act as a noun.

I like to swim, to hike, and to dance.

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2 Responses to “Grammar Basics: Nouns”

  1. Caroline Says:

    Hi,
    Please tell me how to use proper noun and I, proper noun and me.

    Thanks
    Caroline

  2. ifeanyi divine Says:

    l luv ur examples


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