Nouns – Grammar – Types – Examples

A noun is one of the most important words you use when speaking and writing. A noun names a person, place, or thing; a quality, idea, or action.

We can classify or group nouns into the following categories: proper, common, concrete, abstract, collective, and compound nouns. The following chart explains these classifications.

Types of Nouns

  • Proper

Proper nouns label specific people, places, or things. The first letter must be capitalized.

  • Common

Common nouns label general groups, places, people, or things.

  • Concrete

Concrete nouns label things experienced through the senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch.

  • Abstract

Abstract nouns label things not knowable through the senses.

  • Collective

Collective nouns label groups as a unit.

  • Compound

Compound nouns label a single concept composed of two or more words.

Note: A noun can belong to more than one group. For example, suntan lotion is both a common and a concrete noun, as well as a compound noun.

Singular and Plural Nouns

Nouns carry information about number. When a word refers to one person or thing, it is singular in number. When it refers to more than one of the same type of thing, it is plural in number.

The number of a noun is indicated by its ending. The final letters of a noun determine how its plural is formed.

The following examples illustrate how to change from the singular form of a noun to the plural form of a noun.

  • The plural of most nouns is formed by adding -s

Ball – Balls

  • For nouns ending in s, x, z, sh, and ch, add -es.

Watch – Waches

  • Nouns ending in f or fe form their plurals by changing the f or fe to v and adding –es.

Wifes – Wives

  • Nouns ending in y form their plurals by changing the y to i and adding –es.

Family – Families

A Closer Look at Noun Endings: Common Noun Suffixes

The main part of a word is called the root. Suffixes are added to the end of the root. A suffix consists of one or more letters or syllables added to the end of a root to change its meaning.

  • Adding –er indicates the person who is carrying out an action.

Example: A person who swims is a swimmer.

Note: Because of spelling rules, the -m- is doubled.

  • Adding –ance indicates the fact or state of carrying out an action.

Example: Someone who performs gives a performance.

  • Adding -ness indicates a quality or state of being.

Example: The state of being happy is happiness.

Note: Because of spelling rules, the -y changes to -i-.

  • Adding -ity indicates an action or state of affairs that is abstract.

Example: Something that is possible is a possibility.

Note: Because of spelling rules, the -e- is dropped.

Recognizing these suffixes can help you to identify nouns. The ability to distinguish nouns from other words is very useful.

The Biological Nature: Masculine, Feminine, and Neuter Nouns

English nouns do not have gender. That is, they are not inherently masculine or feminine. However, they may refer
to male or female people or animals. When things have no clear gender, they are often said to be inanimate objects or things, and they are thought of as being neuter.

Masculine Nouns

Nouns that refer to male people or animals are masculine nouns.
Examples: Mr. Miller, man, father, actor, bull

Feminine Nouns

Nouns that refer to female people or animals are feminine nouns.
Examples: Mrs. Miller, woman, mother, actress, cow

Neuter Nouns

Nouns that denote things of neither gender are neuter nouns.
Examples: locker, ball, towel, lotion.

What is a nouns job in a sentence

When you express a thought or idea in a sentence, you place words into what is called context. Nouns are assigned different roles or jobs to do when they are used in sentences. Here is an example to illustrate use and context.

The context for all these things is their use in water. Noun Starting with a Consonant Noun Starting with a Vowel

Example: a beach towel Example: an air mattress

What is wrong with this picture?
If Maria wants to wear her bathing suit, she needs a pool, a lake, or the sea to put it to use. Here in the desert, she is in the wrong environment to wear a bathing suit: It is not the right context. Similarly, words have jobs to do for which they are suited. When you put a sentence together that is grammatically correct,
you give each part the right job to do.

When Nouns Become Subjects

Nouns have specific jobs to do when placed within a sentence. These jobs are labeled as subjects, subject complements, possessive nouns, or objects. Let’s look at each.

The first, and most important, job that nouns can do in a sentence is to act as a subject.

The chart below shows how nouns become subjects. They are still nouns, but they are now called subjects in the form of a noun. They are the focus of the sentence, and their job is to carry out the action described by the verb.

A noun that names the person(s) or thing(s) about which a statement is to be made is labeled the subject.

Nouns as Subjects

Noun becomes Subject Verb
Maria Maria swims
pool the pool opens
party the party begins
friens the friends celebrate