A noun is a word that denotes a person, place, or thing, e.g. Tom, apple, laughter, Phoenix
Tom went around the world, from California to Cairo, by ship.
All underlined words are nouns.
Tom = Name of the person
World = place
California = Name of the place
Cairo = Name of the place
Ship = thing
CONCRETE & ABSTRACT NOUNS
Nouns can be either concrete or abstract, depending upon what type of entity they denote.
Concrete Nouns denote items that one can identify using any of the 5 senses – see, touch, taste, smell, & hear. E.g. all nouns in the sentence above are concrete nouns.
Abstract Nouns denote items that cannot be detected by the 5 senses. E.g. love, truth, pain, skill.
PROPER & COMMON NOUNS
Nouns can be either proper or common, depending upon whether they express specific names or generic entities.
Proper Nouns name specific persons, places, or things. They are capitalized. In the above sentence, the nouns ‘Tom’, ‘California’, and ‘Cairo’ are all proper nouns since they are the names of person or place.
Common Nouns are general nouns. In the above sentence, the nouns ‘world’ and ‘ship’ are common nouns.
SINGULAR AND PLURAL NOUNS
Nouns have a number associated with them. Since they express entities, they can either express a single entity or a plural entity. Thus, nouns can be singular or plural.
Singular means one. A noun in its native form is singular. e.g. – ship.
Plural means more than one.
Typically most nouns can be made plural by adding –s or –es after the noun. e.g.
ship is singular, ships is plural
injury is singular, injuries is plural
Certain other nouns can be converted into plural by changing the spelling. E.g.
man is singular, men is plural
child is singular, children is plural
mouse is singular, mice is plural
COUNTABLE AND UN-COUNTABLE NOUNS
Classification of nouns as countable and uncountable nouns is important because it governs the use of certain adjectives with these nouns as explained below.
WHAT IS COUNTABLE NOUN?
A countable noun is a word that can be counted and has a plural form. For example:
The word ‘onion’ is a countable noun because:
It can be counted as one onion, two onions, three onions etc.
It has a plural form (onions)
The word ‘person’ is a countable noun because:
It can be counted as one person, two persons, three persons etc.
It has a plural form (persons)
By the same reasoning as above, words such as ‘thing’, ‘job’, ‘coin’, ‘story’ etc. are Countable Nouns.
WHAT IS AN UN-COUNTABLE NOUN?
An un-countable noun is a word that cannot be counted and that usually does not have a plural form. For example:
The word ‘garlic’ is a non-countable noun because:
It cannot be counted as one garlic, two garlics, three garlics etc.
It does not have a plural form (garlics)
The word ‘knowledge’ is a non- countable noun because:
It can be counted as one knowledge, two knowledge, three knowledge etc.
It does not have a plural form (knowledges)
By the same reasoning as above, words such as ‘stuff’, ‘furniture’, ‘money’, ‘rice’, ‘anger’ are uncountable nouns.
HOW CAN I DETERMINE IF A NOUN IS COUNTABLE OR UN-COUNTABLE?
A noun is countable noun if:
It can be counted as 1 word, 2 words, 3 words
It has a plural form
A noun is un-countable noun if
It cannot be counted as 1 word, 2 words, 3 words
It does not have a plural form
WHAT ADJECTIVES CAN BE USED WITH COUNTABLE AND UN-COUNTABLE NOUNS?
Quantity adjectives such as ‘few’, ‘number’, etc. can only be used with countable nouns. For example, you can say ‘few songs’ because here ‘songs’ is a countable noun; but you can’t say ‘few music’ because ‘music’ is a non-countable noun. Similarly you can say ‘number of songs’; but you can’t say ‘number of music’.
Quantity adjectives such as ‘less’, ‘amount’ etc. can only be used with uncountable nouns. For example, you can say ‘less music’ because here ‘music’ is uncountable noun; but you can’t say ‘less songs’ because songs is a countable noun, and ‘less’ cannot be used with countable nouns.
Similarly the expression ‘amount of music’ is correct; while the expression ‘amount of songs’ is incorrect idiomatic usage.
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