What is a Noun? Different Types of Nouns with Examples

Introduction:

In our today’s lesson, we will go deep to learn what a noun or what is or what are noun words and how many types they are with lots of examples. In addition to these, we will learn how we can recognize them, and how we can use them in sentences.

Primarily, we should remember that in a sentence, a noun can play the role of a subject of a verb, an object of a verb, an object of a preposition, and many others. If we understand what a noun is, it will be much easier for us to understand noun phrases and noun clauses.

What is a noun? What is a noun word?

A noun word or a noun is what tells the names of a

  • a person
  • a thing
  • a place
  • a quality
  • an act
  • a name of any other possible things or ideas.

Example:

  • Name of a man/person): William, Vanessa, Michel, Isabella.
  • Name of a thing: Computer, Mouse, Keyboard, Watch, Bag.
  • Name of a place: New York, Reno, Colorado, Wahington.
  • Name of a quality: Honesty, Sincerity, Punctuality
  • Name of an act or work: Study, Dance, Walk, Contest
  • Name of any other thing: Democracy, Hipocracy, Childhood, Pleasure, Friendship, Energy, Name, Love, Hate, Relation, Health.
what-is-a-noun
What is a Noun?

Interestingly enough, when we learn about a noun, we only understand the first three types of nouns (name of a person, place, and thing) very easily. But the last three types of nouns (name of a quality, act, and other names) create problems to understand. For example, a noun of an act is originally a verb word. But remember that a verb word can often be used as a noun what is called a noun of an act or work.

Examples of nouns of an act:

  • William is in his study.
  • Everybody likes Vanessa’s dance.
  • Michel has gone out for a morning walk.
  • It was a contest between Michel and William.

Types of Nouns: 

Nouns are of five different types. They are:

  1. Proper noun
  2. Common noun or Class noun
  3. Collective noun
  4. Material noun or Concrete noun
  5. Abstract noun.

1. – Proper Noun with examples:

A proper noun is a specific or definite or particular name by which we can recognize and differentiate a person from another person, a thing from another thing, a place from another place, a country from another country. It is because that person, thing, or place has his or their own name. That name can also be made up of more than one word.

No matter where the Proper Noun is used when writing, the first letter will be the capital letter. That is, Proper Noun has two characteristics:

  • First, the noun will have its own name, its own identity.
  • Second, the first letter of the Proper Noun will be capitalized in all cases or situations.

Let me give an example. Reno is a beautiful city. Here Mr. Willam lives. In these two sentences, the word ‘Reno’ is a specific name of a place. So, ‘Reno’ is a proper noun. In the second sentence, the word ‘Willam’ is a person’s own name, so the first letter of the word ‘William’ has been capitalized.

2. – Common noun or class noun with examples:

Common Noun or Class Noun is a noun that means the class or the generic name of an item or of something. That is, a Common Noun is a person without a specific name, an object without a specific name, an animal without a specific name, a place without a specific name, or anything without a specific name.

Example:

  • Persons without a specific name: Boy, girl, university
  • Objects without specific names: Car, chair, table, newspaper, television
  • Animals without specific names: Horse, cow, tiger, lion
  • Places without a specific name: Town, city, state, street, village
  • Anything without a specific name: Movie, day, internet, message, democracy.

But if these nouns are given specific names, then they will become Proper Nouns.

Example:

  •  Girl – common noun (because we do not know the specific identity of that girl)
  • Girl’s name (Vanessa, in this case) – proper noun

Another characteristic of a common noun is that it is not capitalized unless it is used at the beginning of a sentence, or in the title of the composition. That is to say, the Common Noun has two characteristics:

  • First, the noun will not have its own specific or particular name
  • Second, a Common Noun is not capitalized unless it is at the beginning of a sentence or in the title.

3. – Collective Noun with examples:

A noun that refers to more than one person, object, or group of things in the same class, and what is considered as a complete whole is called a Collective Noun.

Example:

  • a team (e.g. a team formed to play cricket consists of eleven players, or a team formed for a task- where there is more than one person).
  • a family (as consisting of father, mother, and children).
  • a class (a class consisting of several students).
  • a committee (a committee consisting of several people, for example: a school, college, or university management committee).
  • a parliament (consists of many members).

Thus, the army means soldiers, is a Collective Noun. But ‘soldier’ is a common noun. Again, audience means listeners (many). The audience is the Collective Noun, but the listener is the Common Noun.

4. – Material or Concrete noun with examples:

Material nouns or Concrete nouns are physical objects in our world that are or are found in a solid, liquid or semi-liquid state, used to make things for our use, and which can usually be weighed or measured but cannot be counted.

Example:

  • Gold: My dad purchased a gold ring for my sister.
  • Milk: All our family members drink milk daily at night.
  • Cotton: Cotton dresses are very comfortable to wear.
  • Salt: Add some more salt to the curry.
  • HoneyHoney is good for our health and mind.

Notice that these objects like gold, milk, cotton, salt, and honey, are either solid or liquid, or semi-liquid. We used these things. We can weigh them but we cannot count them. These are the reasons why these are Material Nouns.

5. – Abstract Noun with examples:

Abstract nouns are not physical objects and so we cannot see, touch, weigh or measure them but can feel or perceive them through our feeling and mind.

Example:

  • Anxiety: Anxiety is a bad thing for your health.
  • Beauty: The beauty of this place is unforgettable.
  • Comfort: Everybody loves comfort.
  • Happiness: Everybody wants happiness.
  • Pain: They gave me lots of pain.
  • Courage: The boy has the courage and energy to finish the work.
  • Pleasure: Rahim finds pleasure in reading books.

The fact of the matter about an abstract noun is that we can only feel the Abstract Noun by our mind or by our senses. The noun that we perceive by our mind, or by our senses is an Abstract Noun.

Compound noun:

When more than one word forms the idea of one single noun or one single thing, then it is a compound noun.

Example:

  • Drinking water should be pure.
  • We are going to the swimming pool to practice swimming.
  • Where is my looking glass?
  • I need a piece of writing paper. I want to write something.

Can a noun be an adjective?

Yes, a noun word can be used as an adjective. They are often called noun adjectives or adjectival nouns, attributive nouns, or noun modifiers. When two nouns are placed side by side the first noun will function as the noun-adjective, because this noun modifies or gives some more information about the second noun.

Example:

  • I will buy a table cloth for my table.[‘table’ is actually a noun word but in this sentence, the word ‘table’ has been used to modify the second noun ‘cloth’. So, the word ‘table’ is a noun-adjective.]
  • I have a wall clock in my bedroom. [‘wall’ is actually a noun word but in this sentence, the word ‘wall’ has been used to modify the second noun ‘cloth’. So, the word ‘wall’ is a noun-adjective.]
  • In the morning I often drink a cup of lemon tea. [‘lemon’ is actually a noun word but in this sentence, the word ‘lemon’ has been used to modify the second noun ‘tea’. So, the word ‘lemon’ is a noun-adjective.]
  • William lives in boys hostel for his study. [ The word ‘boys’ is actually a noun word but in this sentence, the word ‘boys’ has been used to modify the second noun ‘hostel’. So, the word ‘boys’ is a noun-adjective. Here it should be remembered that no apostrophe is needed between ‘boy’ and ‘s’. Because attributive nouns do not take or need the apostrophe to show possession.]

Uses of nouns in the sentences. What are the functions of nouns?

  1. The noun is used or can function as the subject of sentences. For example: William loves it.
  2. The noun is used or can function as the direct or indirect object of a verb. For example: I love William.
  3. The noun is often used after an article. For example: This is a laptop.
  4. If there is an adjective after an article, a noun will be used after that adjective. For example: I want a good laptop.
  5. The noun is used after a determiner. For example: This is my laptop.
  6. The noun is used after a preposition. This hardware is for my computer.
  7. The noun can be used after a ‘be’ verb when that ‘be’ verb is used as a main (linking) verb. For example: He is William.
  8. The noun can be used after a participle when a participle is not functioning as the main verb of a sentence. For example: Finishing my work, I will go to school.
  9. The noun can also be used after a gerund. For example: Reading books is a good habit.

How to recognize a noun?

The best way to recognize a noun is to see where the word has been used and how it is used in the sentence. That is to say, we can recognize a noun by its function. Secondly, you should remember that nouns can be made in plurals. In addition to these two, you should bear in mind that a noun can sometimes be recognized by their endings. You can apply the following technique to pick up nouns from the sentences.

  • If a word ends with the letters -tion, then that word will generally be a noun. For example, examination, calculation, fascination, attention, etc.
  • If a word ends with the letters -ition, then that word will generally be a noun. For example, abolition, composition etc.
  • If a word ends with the letters -sion, then that word will generally be a noun. For example, occasion, admission, decision, confusion, extension, etc.
  • If a word ends with the letters –ion, then that word will be a noun. For example, communion, union, etc.
  • If a word ends with the letters -ance, then that word will generally be a noun. For example, dance, advance, performance, etc.
  • If a word ends with the letters -ence, then that word will generally be a noun. For example, absence, difference, sentence, silence, etc.
  • If a word ends with the letters -ty, then that word will generally be a noun. For example, majority, honesty, etc.
  • If a word ends with the letters -cy, then that word will generally be a noun. For example, policy, conspiracy, prophecy, etc.
  • If a word ends with the letters -sy, then that word will generally be a noun. For example, hypocrisy, controversy, etc. [It should be remembered that the ending ‘-sy’ should sound like ‘ci’. If ending ‘-sy’ sounds like ‘gi’, then that word most likely be an adjective. For example, noisy, lousy, busy, etc.
  • If a word ends with the letters -ment, then that word will generally be a noun. For example, complement, enjoyment, etc.
  • If a word ends with the letters -ness, then that word will generally be a noun. For example, goodness, happiness, etc.
  • If a word ends with the letters -ture, then that word will generally be a noun. For example, structure, agriculture, feature, future, etc.
  • If a word ends with the letters -er, then that word will generally be a noun. For example, helper, dancer, computer, teacher, etc.
  • If a word ends with the letters -hood, then that word will generally be a noun. For example, boyhood, girlhood, babyhood, etc.

Conclusion:

Nouns can also be divided into two other different categories. They are countable nouns and uncountable nouns. But to go to those categories, one should first be acquainted with these five types of nouns in order to be able to understand what nouns are countable and what nouns are uncountable.

Rezaul Karim.

An English teacher, content writer, and tech enthusiast.

Rezaul Karim

Hi, my name is Rezaul Karim. I am an English teacher and founder of LearnEnglishWithRezaul.com. I work with non-native English learners to help them understand English grammar from basic to intermediate. I also help them improve their conversation skills, communication ability and to reduce their accent. I hope you may like my posts on this website.

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