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Definition of 'essay'

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Essay in american english, examples of 'essay' in a sentence essay, cobuild collocations essay, trends of essay.

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Meaning of essay in English

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  • I want to finish off this essay before I go to bed .
  • His essay was full of spelling errors .
  • Have you given that essay in yet ?
  • Have you handed in your history essay yet ?
  • I'd like to discuss the first point in your essay.
  • boilerplate
  • composition
  • dissertation
  • essay question
  • peer review
  • go for it idiom
  • go out of your way idiom
  • go the extra mile idiom
  • go to great lengths idiom
  • God helps those who help themselves idiom
  • step on the gas idiom
  • stick at something
  • stick to something
  • stick-to-itiveness
  • strain after/for effect idiom

essay | American Dictionary

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what is the noun for essay

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Definition of essay noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

  • I have to write an essay this weekend.
  • essay on something an essay on the causes of the First World War
  • essay about somebody/something Have you done your essay about Napoleon yet?
  • in an essay He made some very good points in his essay.
  • Essays handed in late will not be accepted.
  • Have you done your essay yet?
  • He concludes the essay by calling for a corrective.
  • I finished my essay about 10 o'clock last night!
  • Lunch was the only time she could finish her essay assignment.
  • We have to write an essay on the environment.
  • You have to answer 3 out of 8 essay questions in the exam.
  • the teenage winner of an essay contest
  • We have to write an essay on the causes of the First World War.
  • be entitled something
  • be titled something
  • address something
  • in an/​the essay
  • essay about

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what is the noun for essay

4-minute read

  • 25th September 2020

Nouns are a key element of language. But what exactly is a noun? Here, we’ll explain the basics of nouns in English and some common noun types.

What Is a Noun?

Nouns are naming words. This means we use them to name people, animals, places, objects, and ideas. Examples of nouns include:

  • People nouns – man, woman, doctor, chef, Lucy, Howard
  • Place nouns – school, home, city, park, Europe, China
  • Other nouns – cat, fish, bicycle, toaster, happiness, love, money

Nouns are often the subject or object in a sentence. For example:

Simon kicked the ball .

Here, “Simon” is a noun and the subject of the sentence (i.e., it names the person carrying out the action in the sentence). And the noun “ball” is the object of the sentence (i.e., it names the thing Simon is acting on).

Nouns can play other roles in English (e.g., modifying another word ). However, most of the time, they name things in a sentence.

Different Types of Nouns

We can also divide nouns into different types, including:

  • Proper and common nouns
  • Concrete and abstract nouns
  • Countable and uncountable nouns
  • Collective nouns
  • Noun phrases

It’s worth noting here that all nouns belong to more than one class. For example, “kindness” is a common, abstract, uncountable noun, whereas “Napoleon” is a concrete, proper, countable noun. But it helps to know these categories, as English sometimes has special rules for different noun types.

We’ll look briefly at all the above in the rest of this post.

1. Proper and Common Nouns

All nouns can be divided into proper and common nouns:

  • Proper nouns name unique people, places, organizations, and things. These words always begin with a capital letter .
  • Common nouns name generic things. Unlike proper nouns, these usually only begin with a capital letter at the start of a sentence.

For example, “person” is a common noun since it refers to a generic thing. But “Duncan” is a proper noun since it names a specific person. You can see the difference between more proper and common nouns in the table below.

2. Concrete and Abstract Nouns

We can also divide nouns into concrete and abstract nouns:

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  • Concrete nouns are things you can see, hear, smell, taste, or touch, such as “coffee,” “child,” “bed,” “water,” and “sunlight.”
  • Abstract nouns are things you cannot perceive with your senses, including ideas and emotions like “anger,” “knowledge,” and “truth.”

Despite this, we treat abstract and concrete nouns the same in writing.

3. Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Another way of classifying nouns is as countable or uncountable:

  • Countable (or count) nouns refer to things you can count. They can be singular or plural . Examples include “day,” “train,” “chair,” and “coin.”
  • Uncountable (also non-count or mass ) nouns describe things you cannot count as individuals. They are always singular. Examples include “patience,” “rice,” “money,” “work,” and “music.”

For example, “rabbit” is countable as you can count rabbits individually (e.g., “ seven rabbits”). But “water” is uncountable as we can’t divide a quantity of water into individual “waters.” Thus, we have to say how much , not how many , of an uncountable noun we mean (e.g., “ a gallon of water”).

4. Collective Nouns

Collective nouns name a group, such as “family,” “crew,” and “team.” People usually treat these group nouns as singular , especially in US English:

The team is celebrating its win.

But you can use plural terms with collective nouns when referring to the members of a group acting individually:

The team are arguing with one another.

Here, we use the plural verb “are” because we’re describing the members of the team arguing among themselves, not acting together as a group.

5. Noun Phrases

Finally, a noun phrase is a phrase that plays the role of a noun. This will always include a noun, but it will also include other words that tell us about the main noun. It could be just two words (i.e., a noun and a modifier):

My brother is going home tomorrow.

Here, for instance, the modifier “my” tells us about the noun “brother.” But noun phrases can be more complex and made up of several words:

I took the bus that was supposed to arrive this morning .

The main noun here is “bus.” But this is modified by “that was supposed to arrive this morning,” which tells us the specific bus the speaker has in mind.

Expert Proofreading

We hope this has clarified the basics of nouns in English for you! For more grammar tips, check out our Common ESL Writing Errors guide. If you would like a little help to check any aspect of your writing, though, why not try our expert proofreading services for free today?

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What is a Noun? Definition, Rules And Examples Explained Simply

As you start learning the English language, you’ll come across different grammatical components. Nouns are one of the essential parts of the language and are used in every sentence you speak or write. Understanding what a noun is, its definition, rules, and examples are crucial to your overall understanding of the language. In this article, we will explore what a noun is, its definition, and rules, and provide examples to help you comprehend this essential grammatical component.

Table of Contents

What is a Noun?

A noun is a word that represents a person, place, thing, or idea. In other words, a noun is anything that can be named or identified. Nouns can be singular or plural, and they are used in sentences as subjects, objects, or complements. A noun is the main subject of a sentence and gives meaning to what is being conveyed.

For example , “The dog barks” is correct, while “The dog bark” is incorrect. In the first sentence, “dog” is the noun, and “barks” is the verb. The subject is “dog,” which gives meaning to the sentence. In the second sentence, “dog” is still the subject, but “bark” is not the correct verb to agree with the subject.

Types of Nouns

There are different types of nouns that you will encounter in the English language. Understanding the different types of nouns will help you use them correctly and efficiently. Here are some of the most common types of nouns:

Proper Nouns

Proper nouns are specific and unique names of a person, place, or thing. They always begin with a capital letter, whether they are in the middle or at the beginning of a sentence. For example, New York City, John Smith, The Eiffel Tower are all proper nouns.

Common Nouns

Common nouns are general names for people, places, things, or ideas. They do not begin with a capital letter unless they appear at the beginning of a sentence. Examples of common nouns include city, person, building.

Concrete Nouns

Concrete nouns are things that you can see, touch, taste, smell, or hear. Examples of concrete nouns include tree, book, car.

Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns are things that you cannot see, touch, taste, smell, or hear. Examples of abstract nouns include love, happiness, peace.

Countable Nouns

Countable nouns are things that can be counted. Examples of countable nouns include cup, shoe, apple.

Uncountable Nouns

Uncountable nouns are things that cannot be counted. Examples of uncountable nouns include water, sugar, air.

Possessive Nouns

Possessive nouns indicate ownership. They can be singular or plural and can be used as a subject, object, or complement in a sentence. Examples of possessive nouns include dog’s toy, teacher’s book, student’s desk.

Rules for Using Nouns

There are specific rules for using nouns in the English language. Here are some of the most important rules:

Agreement with Verbs

Nouns can be singular or plural, and they must agree with the verb in the sentence. For example, “The dog barks” is correct, while “The dog bark” is incorrect.

Capitalization of Proper Nouns

Proper nouns always begin with a capital letter, whether they are in the middle or at the beginning of a sentence. For example, New York City is a proper noun, while city is a common noun.

Concrete vs. Abstract Nouns

Concrete nouns refer to physical objects, while abstract nouns refer to ideas, concepts and emotions. Understanding the difference between concrete and abstract nouns is essential for using them correctly in sentences.

Countable vs. Uncountable Nouns

Countable nouns can be singular or plural, while uncountable nouns are always singular. Countable nouns can be quantified, while uncountable nouns cannot. Understanding the difference between these types of nouns will help you use them correctly in sentences.

Possessive nouns indicate ownership and are formed by adding an apostrophe and an “s” at the end of the noun. For example, “The dog’s toy” is a possessive noun.

Examples of Nouns

To further illustrate what a noun is, here are some examples of nouns:

  • Proper Nouns : New York City, John Smith, The Eiffel Tower
  • Common Nouns : City, Person, Building
  • Concrete Nouns : Tree, Book, Car
  • Abstract Nouns : Love, Happiness, Peace
  • Countable Nouns : Cup, Shoe, Apple
  • Uncountable Nouns : Water, Sugar, Air
  • Possessive Nouns : Dog’s Toy, Teacher’s Book, Student’s Desk
  • What are some examples of proper nouns?

Some examples of proper nouns include New York City, John Smith, The Eiffel Tower, and Coca-Cola.

  • What is the difference between concrete and abstract nouns?

Concrete nouns refer to physical objects, while abstract nouns refer to ideas, concepts, and emotions.

  • Can common nouns be capitalized?

Common nouns do not need to be capitalized, except when they appear at the beginning of a sentence or are part of a proper noun.

  • What is the difference between countable and uncountable nouns?

Countable nouns can be singular or plural, while uncountable nouns are always singular. Countable nouns can be quantified, while uncountable nouns cannot.

In conclusion, understanding what a noun is, its definition, rules, and examples are crucial for effective communication in the English language. Nouns are one of the essential components of the language, and they are used in every sentence we speak or write. Knowing the different types of nouns, their rules, and examples will help you use them correctly in sentences, thereby enhancing your overall communication skills. So, the next time you write or speak in English, remember to pay close attention to your nouns!

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  • Nouns and pronouns

What Is a Noun? | Definition, Types & Examples

A noun is a word that represents a person, thing, concept, or place. Most sentences contain at least one noun or pronoun . For example, the sentences below contain anywhere from one to three nouns.

June is my favourite month .

Nouns are one of the main types of words in English, along with other parts of speech such as verbs. They are often, but not always, preceded by an article (‘the’, ‘a’, or ‘an’) or other determiner.

Table of contents

How are nouns used in sentences, nouns vs pronouns, common vs proper nouns, countable vs uncountable nouns, concrete vs abstract nouns.

  • Collective nouns

Other types of nouns

Frequently asked questions about nouns.

A complete sentence usually consists of at least a subject and a verb . The subject describes some person or thing, and the verb describes an action carried out by the subject.

In most cases, the subject is a noun or a pronoun. So the most basic role for a noun is to act as the subject for a verb that follows it.

David went out.

Nouns and pronouns can also play the role of object in a sentence. An object usually comes after the verb and represents something or someone that is affected by the action described. Objects can be direct or indirect:

  • The direct object is someone or something that is directly acted upon by the verb.
  • The indirect object is someone or something that receives the direct object.

Please give Jeremy some bread .

Noun phrases

When analysing sentence structure, it’s common to refer to noun phrases . A noun phrase is a noun or pronoun in combination with all the words that belong with it in the sentence, such as any articles, adjectives, or other determiners that modify the noun.

A noun phrase can consist of the noun or pronoun alone or of a much longer series of words (always including at least one noun or pronoun).

The boa constrictor is a well-known species of snake .

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Pronouns are a much smaller set of words (such as ‘I’, ‘she’, and ‘they’) that are used in a similar way to nouns. They are primarily used to stand in for a noun that has already been mentioned or to refer to yourself and other people.

Like nouns, pronouns can function as the head of a noun phrase and as the subject or object of a verb. You can have a complete sentence consisting of just a pronoun and a verb (e.g., ‘He walks.’), just as you could with a noun (‘Jack walks.’).

Unlike nouns, some pronouns (mainly the personal pronouns ) change their forms depending on the grammatical context they’re used in. For example, the first-person pronoun is ‘I’ when it’s used as a subject and ‘me’ when it’s used as an object, whereas a noun like ‘dog’ would look the same in both cases.

Have you ever met them before?

That is beside the point.

An important distinction is made between two types of nouns, common nouns and proper nouns.

  • Common nouns are more general. A common noun refers to a class of person, place, thing, or concept, but not to someone or something specific.
  • Proper nouns are the names of specific people, places, things, or concepts. They are always capitalised to distinguish them from common nouns.

Another important distinction is between countable and uncountable nouns :

  • Countable nouns (also called count nouns ) refer to things that can be counted. They can be preceded by an indefinite article or a number, and they can be pluralised. Most nouns are countable (e.g., ‘fact(s)’).
  • Uncountable nouns (also called noncount nouns or mass nouns ) refer to things that can’t be counted. They should never be preceded by an indefinite article or a number, and they cannot be pluralised (e.g., ‘information’).

A common mistake in English is treating uncountable nouns as if they were countable by pluralising them or using an indefinite article. The solution to these problems is usually to rephrase using a related term or phrase that is countable.

  • My previous two researches indicated that …
  • My previous two studies indicated that …
  • It’s important to account for bias in a research .
  • It’s important to account for bias in research.
  • It’s important to account for bias in a research project.

A distinction is often made between concrete nouns and abstract nouns.

  • Concrete nouns refer to physical objects, places, or individuals: things or people that can be observed with the senses, such as ‘apple’, ‘hill’, ‘zebra’, and ‘Dorothy’.
  • Abstract nouns refer to concepts, ideas, feelings, and processes that can’t be physically located, such as ‘grammar’, ‘justice’, ‘sadness’, and ‘relaxation’.

There’s no grammatical difference between concrete and abstract nouns – it’s just a distinction that’s made to point out the different kinds of things nouns can refer to.

A collective noun is a word used to refer to a group of people or things, such as ‘team’, ‘band’, or ‘herd’. A collective noun can also be a proper noun – for example, the name of a specific company or band.

A collective noun may appear to be singular (e.g., ‘team’) or plural (e.g., ‘The Beatles’) in form, and there’s some disagreement about whether they should be treated as singular or plural grammatically. The following applies for US vs. UK English .

  • In US English , it’s standard to treat collective nouns as singular, regardless of whether they look plural or not.
  • In UK English , the same words may be treated as plural or singular depending on the context – for example, treated as plural when you’re emphasising the individual members of the group, singular when you’re emphasising the overall collective.

A gaggle of geese is the most threatening thing you’re likely to encounter at the park.

There are many nouns in English (more than any other part of speech), and accordingly many ways of forming nouns and using them. Some other important types of nouns are:

  • Possessive nouns
  • Attributive nouns
  • Appositive nouns
  • Generic nouns

A possessive noun is a noun that’s followed by an apostrophe (’) and the letter ‘s’ to indicate possession (e.g., ‘my father’s house’).

To indicate possession with a plural noun that ends in ‘s’, you just add the apostrophe after the ‘s’, and don’t add an extra ‘s’ (e.g., ‘my parents’ house’).

A gerund is a noun that is identical to the present participle (the ‘-ing’ form) of a verb. These are typically nouns that describe the same activity as the verb they were formed from, such as ‘driving’, formed from the present participle of ‘drive’.

Attributive nouns are nouns that are used like adjectives, to modify another noun. For example, ‘company’ is an attributive noun in the phrase ‘company policy’.

Even though attributive nouns work similarly to adjectives, they’re still classed as nouns. This is because they don’t fulfill all the requirements of adjectives. For example, they have to appear before the noun – it wouldn’t make sense to say ‘a policy that is company’.

An appositive noun (or appositive noun phrase) is a noun that comes after another noun to provide additional information about it.

If the appositive provides essential information (i.e., it wouldn’t be clear who or what you are referring to without it), it’s written without any extra punctuation. If it provides extra information that is not essential, it’s surrounded by commas .

A generic noun is a noun that is used to refer to a whole class of things (or people, places, etc.). They can be plural or singular, and they may appear with a definite article, an indefinite article, or no article.

The same noun may be used generically in some contexts and not others. For example, it would be equally possible to use the nouns in the sentences below in a non-generic way (e.g., ‘the people I know best are my brothers’; ‘my father operated a printing press’).

A noun is a word that represents a person, thing, concept, or place (e.g., ‘John’, ‘house’, ‘affinity’, ‘river’). Most sentences contain at least one noun or pronoun .

Nouns are often, but not always, preceded by an article (‘the’, ‘a’, or ‘an’) and/or another determiner such as an adjective.

There are many ways to categorize nouns into various types, and the same noun can fall into multiple categories or even change types depending on context.

Some of the main types of nouns are:

  • Common nouns and proper nouns
  • Countable and uncountable nouns
  • Concrete and abstract nouns

Pronouns are words like ‘I’, ‘she’, and ‘they’ that are used in a similar way to nouns . They stand in for a noun that has already been mentioned or refer to yourself and other people.

Pronouns can function just like nouns as the head of a noun phrase and as the subject or object of a verb. However, pronouns change their forms (e.g., from ‘I’ to ‘me’) depending on the grammatical context they’re used in, whereas nouns usually don’t.

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Synonyms of essay

  • as in article
  • as in attempt
  • as in to attempt
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Thesaurus Definition of essay

 (Entry 1 of 2)

Synonyms & Similar Words

  • dissertation
  • composition
  • prolegomenon
  • undertaking
  • trial and error
  • experimentation

Thesaurus Definition of essay  (Entry 2 of 2)

  • have a go at
  • try one's hand (at)

Antonyms & Near Antonyms

Synonym Chooser

How does the verb essay differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of essay are attempt , endeavor , strive , and try . While all these words mean "to make an effort to accomplish an end," essay implies difficulty but also suggests tentative trying or experimenting.

When might attempt be a better fit than essay ?

While the synonyms attempt and essay are close in meaning, attempt stresses the initiation or beginning of an effort.

Where would endeavor be a reasonable alternative to essay ?

Although the words endeavor and essay have much in common, endeavor heightens the implications of exertion and difficulty.

When is strive a more appropriate choice than essay ?

While in some cases nearly identical to essay , strive implies great exertion against great difficulty and specifically suggests persistent effort.

How do try and attempt relate to one another, in the sense of essay ?

Try is often close to attempt but may stress effort or experiment made in the hope of testing or proving something.

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Cite this entry.

“Essay.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus , Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/essay. Accessed 2 Jan. 2024.

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  • What Is a Pronoun? | Definition, Types & Examples

What Is a Pronoun? | Definition, Types & Examples

Published on October 17, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on March 2, 2023.

A pronoun is a word that stands in for a noun , often to avoid the need to repeat the same noun over and over. Like nouns, pronouns can refer to people, things, concepts, and places. Most sentences contain at least one noun or pronoun.

People tend to use “pronouns” to mean personal pronouns specifically, but there are many other kinds of pronouns that are just as important to English grammar. The words highlighted in bold below are all pronouns.

It might rain tomorrow, but there isn’t much we can do about that .

These are the days that I like best.

Table of contents

How are pronouns used in sentences, pronouns vs. nouns, pronouns vs. determiners, personal pronouns (first-, second-, and third-person).

  • Demonstrative pronouns
  • Interrogative pronouns
  • Relative pronouns
  • Indefinite pronouns
  • Reciprocal pronouns
  • Dummy pronouns (expletives)

Other interesting language articles

Frequently asked questions.

The main function of pronouns is to replace nouns. Because of this, they are used in sentences in similar ways to nouns.

Like nouns, pronouns commonly serve as the subject of a sentence, followed by a verb (a word expressing an action).

We have never been to Germany before.

A pronoun can also function as the object in a sentence—either a direct or indirect object:

  • The direct object is something or someone that is directly acted upon by the verb.
  • The indirect object is someone or something that receives the direct object.

Can you promise her this ? Note A noun phrase is a noun or pronoun in combination with any determiners applied to it. Despite the name, noun phrases can just as well consist of pronouns as of nouns.

Pronoun antecedents

The antecedent of a pronoun is the noun that it refers back to. It’s usually mentioned in the text before the pronoun, but sometimes it comes just after it in a sentence. The antecedent may also be something the person you’re speaking to said. Pronoun-antecedent agreement means ensuring that the pronoun you use matches its antecedent in number, person, and gender.

As they debated the point, the students became increasingly animated.

Person A: What do you think of Julian ?

When you use any type of pronoun, it’s important to ensure that the antecedent is clear and unambiguous. If there is any ambiguity, use the noun instead. For example, below, “it” would be unclear, as it could refer to either the interview or the test.

  • After the interview and the written test were completed, it was checked for incomplete answers.
  • After the interview and the written test were completed, the test was checked for incomplete answers.

While pronouns constitute a relatively small class of words that tends not to change over time, nouns are a much broader class that is constantly expanding. Like pronouns, nouns refer to things, people, places, and concepts, but they do so with much greater specificity.

Like pronouns, nouns can function as the head of a noun phrase and as the object or subject of a verb . A complete sentence may consist of just a noun and a verb (“Jeremy spoke.”), just as it could of a pronoun and a verb (“He spoke.”).

Unlike pronouns, nouns are fixed in form—they don’t change spellings depending on their grammatical role in a sentence. For example, while the third-person masculine pronoun “he” becomes “him” when used as an object, the noun “man” doesn’t change.

Many pronouns are closely related to determiners, being spelled similarly (or identically) and expressing related meanings. For example, possessive pronouns like “yours” are closely related to possessive determiners like “your”; and demonstrative pronouns like “that” are identical to the demonstrative determiners.

The grammatical distinction between the two is that pronouns stand on their own as the subject or object of a verb, whereas determiners are only used to modify nouns, not acting as subjects or objects in their own right.

Personal pronouns are words like “he” that refer to yourself, the person you’re addressing, or other people and things. They usually refer to an antecedent but may occur without one when the reference is self-evident (e.g., “I” always refers to the person saying or writing it).

Personal pronouns can change their form based on:

  • Person ( first- , second- , or third-person )
  • Number (singular or plural)
  • Gender (masculine, feminine, neuter, or epicene)
  • Case ( subject , object , possessive , or reflexive / intensive )

The impersonal pronoun “one” is used in general statements about no particular person. It has fewer forms than the personal pronouns but is otherwise used in the same way.

Personal pronouns table

Download this table

The four demonstrative pronouns ( this , that , these , and those ) are used to indicate something previously mentioned or, in conversation, something that is clear from the context. For example, in the sentence “Take this,” “this” has no explicit antecedent, but it would be clear in context that it referred to whatever object you were being given.

The demonstrative pronouns give information about the relative closeness (literal or figurative) of the things they refer to, especially when they’re contrasted with each other:

  • The “near” demonstrative this (singular) or these (plural) indicates something close to you.
  • The “far” demonstrative that (singular) or those (plural) indicates something farther from you.

Interrogative pronouns are used (along with other types of interrogative words) to introduce questions. The interrogative pronouns are:

  • What and which , used to ask questions about things
  • Who and whom , used to ask about people
  • Whose , used to ask about ownership

What were your favorite classes at school?

A relative pronoun is used to introduce a relative clause—a phrase that usually supplies more information about the preceding noun. They have a lot in common with interrogative pronouns. The relative pronouns are:

  • Which(ever) , that , and what(ever) , used in relation to things
  • Who(ever) and whom(ever) , used in relation to people
  • Whose , used to indicate ownership

Relative pronouns are often omitted in practice (e.g., “the book [that] I read”). There’s nothing wrong with doing this as long as it doesn’t create ambiguity.

It doesn’t matter whose it was; it’s ours now!

Indefinite pronouns are words like “somebody” that refer to an unspecified person or thing. Many of them are formed using some combination of some- , any- , every- , or no- with -thing , -one , -where , or -body .

There are also various indefinite pronouns used to describe quantity, such as “little,” “many,” “none,” and “enough.” And there are distributive pronouns like “neither” and “each” that allow you to distinguish between options.

The impersonal pronoun “one” can also be regarded as indefinite.

No one likes him, and he doesn’t like anyone .

Some are born lucky, while others have to work hard for everything they get.

Reciprocal pronouns are used to indicate a reciprocal relationship between two people or things, where the members of a group each perform the same action relative to the other(s). The English reciprocal pronouns are each other and one another .

Some writers claim that “each other” should only be used to refer to groups of two and “one another” to groups of three or more. But this distinction is rejected by most style guides and not borne out in practice; you can use the two interchangeably.

A dummy pronoun (also called an expletive ) is a pronoun that doesn’t have any explicit meaning but is necessary to the sentence structure . Unlike other pronouns, dummy pronouns don’t actually replace a noun.

The two words used as dummy pronouns in English are it and there . Note that both words can also fulfill other grammatical roles. Dummy pronouns are commonly used to talk about the weather, to emphasize certain elements in a sentence, or to introduce the existence of something.

There are thousands of different species of birds in the world.

If you want to know more about nouns , pronouns, verbs , and other parts of speech , make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations and examples.

Nouns & pronouns

  • Common nouns
  • Proper nouns
  • Collective nouns
  • Personal pronouns
  • Uncountable and countable nouns
  • Verb tenses
  • Phrasal verbs
  • Types of verbs
  • Active vs passive voice
  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Interjections
  • Determiners
  • Prepositions

The term preferred pronouns is used to mean the (third-person) personal pronouns a person identifies with and would like to be referred to by. People usually state the subject and object pronoun (e.g., “she/her”) but may also include the possessive (e.g., “she/her/hers”).

Most people go by the masculine “he/him,” the feminine “she/her,” the gender-neutral singular “they/them,” or some combination of these. There are also neopronouns used to express nonbinary gender identity, such as “xe/xem.” These are less common than the singular “they.”

The practice of stating one’s preferred pronouns (e.g., in a professional context or on a social media profile) is meant to promote inclusion for transgender and gender-nonconforming people. The first- and second-person pronouns (“I” and “you”) are not included, since they’re the same for everyone.

A pronoun is a word that stands in for a noun. Like nouns, pronouns refer to people, things, concepts, or places. Most sentences contain at least one noun or pronoun.

A pronoun can serve as the subject or object in a sentence, and it will usually refer back (or sometimes forward) to an antecedent—the noun that the pronoun stands in for. Pronouns are used to avoid the need to repeat the same nouns over and over.

Pronouns can be categorized into many types, all of which are very commonly used in English:

  • Subject and object pronouns
  • Possessive pronouns
  • Reflexive pronouns and intensive pronouns
  • Impersonal pronouns

Pronouns are words like “I,” “she,” and “they” that are used in a similar way to nouns . They stand in for a noun that has already been mentioned or refer to yourself and other people.

Pronouns can function just like nouns as the head of a noun phrase and as the subject or object of a verb . However, pronouns change their forms (e.g., from “I” to “me”) depending on the grammatical context they’re used in, whereas nouns usually don’t.

Sources in this article

We strongly encourage students to use sources in their work. You can cite our article (APA Style) or take a deep dive into the articles below.

Caulfield, J. (2023, March 02). What Is a Pronoun? | Definition, Types & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved January 2, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/nouns-and-pronouns/pronouns/
Aarts, B. (2011).  Oxford modern English grammar . Oxford University Press.
Butterfield, J. (Ed.). (2015).  Fowler’s dictionary of modern English usage  (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.
Garner, B. A. (2016).  Garner’s modern English usage (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.

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Nouns in The English Language

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Published: Apr 11, 2019

Words: 2272 | Pages: 5 | 12 min read

  • Proper and common nouns
  • Personal names (both first names like Diana and Chris, as well as surnames like Popescu);
  • Nationalities (the Japanese, the British)
  • Languages (English, Romanian, Spanish);
  • Titles (Mr. John, Miss Deborah, Mrs. Kerry, Dr. Smith, Queen Elisabeth, Lord Byron, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Sergent Jackson, Professor Bright);
  • Animals (Spot, Missy);
  • Calendar items (January, Monday, Christmas);
  • Geographical names like:
  • continents (Europe, Africa)
  • countries (the United States of America, Greece)
  • rivers, lakes, oceans, seas (the Black Sea, the Danube, Lake Michigan)
  • mountains (the Alps) and so on.
  • Celestial bodies (the Moon, Venus)
  • Cardinal points, when they are not used geographically (North, West);
  • Institutions (the European Union, the National Theatre, the British Museum);
  • Newspapers, titles of books, magazines (the Guardian, Vogue, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
  • Countable and uncountable nouns
  • it has a plural form (girl – girls, table - tables);
  • it can be preceded by the indefinite article a/an (a cat, an argument);
  • it can be preceded by How many or (a) few (How many pencils have you got?; My cousin has a few books);
  • it can be preceded by numbers (one pencil box with three rulers).
  • it has not a plural form (sugar, silver, blood);
  • it cannot be preceded by the indefinite article a/an (Such fine weather!);
  • it can be preceded by How much or (a) little (How much honey do you want?; My parents have little furniture);
  • it cannot be preceded by numbers.
  • liquids (water, oil, milk);
  • gas (air, oxygen, steam);
  • food (spaghetti, butter, soup, bread, cheese, cookery, food, meat, toast );
  • abstract ideas (chaos, advice, education, fun, gossip, hospitality, information, knowledge, luck, news, nonsense, patience, progress, strength, stuff );
  • subjects / fields (mathematics, art, politics, poetry, vocabulary);
  • mass nouns (hair, transportation, furniture, grass, money);
  • grain and powder (sugar, rice, sand);
  • natural phenomena (rain, snow, darkness, lightning, sunshine, thunder);
  • sports (football, chess, poker);
  • activities (reading, swimming, working, dancing, laughter, leisure, shopping, smoking, spelling, work);
  • feelings (sadness, anger, courage, happiness, jealousy);
  • states of being (adulthood, power, sleep, stress, safety, stupidity, violence, wealth).
  • Concrete and abstract nouns; collective nouns

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what is the noun for essay

what is the noun for essay

What is a Noun? (Types, Definition, Examples, Word Lists)

nouns

What is a noun? How does a noun work? A noun typically refers to a person, place, or thing. There are many types of nouns and plural forms of abstract nouns. For example, a concrete noun, which is a type of noun that is perceived the senses (taste, touch, smell) would be Apple. Nouns are an essential part of speech.

What is a noun?

A noun is a word that identifies a place, thing, name, animal, or anything with an identity.A noun can be living, non-living, countable, non-countable, tangible, or non-tangible.

Deepen your understanding of nouns with a list of comprehensive noun examples.

Types of nouns

Nouns that name a person.

Some nouns identify a person’s name, irrespective of their gender. Use these nouns to address a specific person.

Nouns that name a place

Some nouns identify a place – a state, country, town , area, lane, apartment , street, or city. Or any location existing in the present, past , and future, reality or fictional world.

For example,  Hill Valley  (a fictional place in California) or  the USA  are nouns that name a place.

  • Central Perk
  • King Kong comic stores
  • Blue dart grocery
  • my living room
  • the bathroom
  • Fantasy land

Nouns that name things (intangible concepts, activities)

Nouns that identify intangible things – things that do not have a physical existence – are called abstract nouns .

Abstract nouns instead name a feeling , a perception, or a state of a being.

Abstract nouns rely on concrete nouns (nouns that have a physical existence) to complete their meaning.

Look at examples of abstract nouns in the given sentences.

  • I’m in  love  with the new sci-fi book by Issac Asimov.
  • Ron’s  happiness  was at its peak when he discovered that Lucas had brought him his favorite apartment.
  • Her  beauty  was mesmerizing.
  • Nina and Bonnie share great  chemistry .

Difference between a proper noun and a common noun

A  proper noun  is a distinctive identity given to a noun. It always begins with a capital letter, irrespective of its position in a sentence . For example,  Lucas  and  Maria  stay in  Germany .

On the other hand, a  common noun  is a group identity or a general identity given to a noun. They don’t begin with a capital letter. For example, A  boy  and a  girl  are studying Math.

Compare this list of examples to understand proper and common nouns better.

Examples of proper nouns vs. common nouns

City of New York

Girl Kristine

Animal Hippopotamus

Color Violet

Flower Rose

Subject English

University Oxford University

Apartment 21/B

Season Spring

Friend Mathew

Types of common nouns

There are three classifications for common nouns:

Concrete nouns

  • Abstract nouns

Collective nouns

Concrete nouns  identify a material thing. You can sense all the concrete nouns with human touch, sight, smell, taste, or sound.

  • Coffee beans

Abstract nouns  identify intangible and nonmaterial things. You can’t sense them directly, but you understand that it exists through external actions or signs.

For example, anger is an abstract noun . So you can’t see it directly but can gauge it through different (indirect) signs like a person yelling or throwing things forcedly.

Collective nouns  identify a group of things or nouns—for example, a bush of thorns, a bunch of flowers, or a pack of spades.

Use collective nouns when you want to address a group of nouns as a unit simultaneously.

Some other examples of collective nouns include:

  • A flock of bees
  • A pack of wolves
  • An army of ants
  • A crew of sailors
  • A troop of warriors
  • A grove of trees
  • A bushel of apples

Grammar rules

  • Only capitalize common nouns when they are the beginning word of the sentence.

For example:

1 – Lock the door.

Here, ‘door is a common noun, but it’s not capitalized.

2 – Coffee is the best therapy!

Here, coffee is a common noun, and it’s capitalized since it’s the beginning word of the sentence.

Here are some more examples to determine the proper capitalization of common nouns.

  • Incorrect: Nina is the  President  of the happy club.
  • Correct: Nina is the  president  of the happy club.
  • Incorrect: Samuel eats four  Bananas  a day.
  • Correct: Samuel eats four  bananas  a day.

Nouns as subject

A noun is also a subject. Therefore , you usually refer to the subject and construct the sentence around it.

Take the noun, Mandy, for example.

  • Mandy is cooking sausages.

Here Mandy is the noun and the subject, and you construct the sentence around it by placing an action –  cooking , and the object –  sausages  around it.

Take another noun, Melissa.

  • Melissa leads the content team at Blue House publishers.

Here Melissa is the noun and the subject, and you construct the sentence around it by placing an action –  leads  and the object –  content team at Blue House publishers  around it.

For  nouns as a subject , the noun used should be the performer of the verb in the sentence.

In Mandy and Melissa’s example, they are the performers of the verb ‘cooking’ and ‘leads,’ respectively.

Nouns as objects

A noun is also an object – direct or indirect. The ‘object’ is a noun at the receiving end of the verb. You usually refer to the object and construct the sentence around it.

Take the noun, laptop, for example.

  • Assemble the laptop.

Here, ‘laptop’ is a noun and an object – you construct the sentence around it.

Take another noun, bookshelf.

  • Clean the bookshelf.

Here, ‘bookshelf’ is a noun and an object – you construct the sentence around it.

Nouns as a subject and object complement

A complement is a part of a sentence that completes the sentence.

Nouns as a subject complement  is a noun that complements the subject in a sentence. It acts as the adjective of the subject.

Andy  is a  mechanic.

Here, ‘Andy’ is the subject, and ‘mechanic’ is the noun as a subject complement.

Robin  eats  grapes.

Here, ‘Robin’ is the subject, and ‘grapes’ is the noun as a subject complement.

Nouns as an object complement  is a noun that complements the object in a sentence. It acts as the adjective of the object.

They call  her crazy.

Here, ‘her’ is the object, and ‘crazy’ is the noun as an object complement.

Appositive nouns and nouns as modifiers

An  appositive noun  (or noun phrase) immediately follows another noun or noun phrase to give extra details about it.

For example, My sister, Brenda, looks after the farm.

Here,  Brenda  is the appositive noun next to another noun,  sister , and informs us about the sister’s name.

1 – A comma separates appositives that add extra information about a noun or noun phrase. You won’t change the sentence’s meaning even if you delete the ‘extra’ information.

  • The coat comes in two colors, red and black.

Here,  color  is a noun, and  red  and  black  are appositive nouns.

2 – Don’t add a comma for appositives that add essential information about a noun or noun phrase. If you delete the ‘essential’ information, you will change the sentence’s meaning.

  • She was sad over her lost pet.

Here, pet is a noun, and lost is an appositive noun. If you remove the appositive noun, the sentence won’t make any sense.

Regular nouns

A regular noun is any noun that forms plural by adding a -s or -es at the end.

For regular nouns ending with -x, -sh, -ch, -s, -z, or -ss, add an -es at the end of the word to form plurals. 

Regular nouns that form plurals by adding -es

Collective nouns identify a group of countable nouns—for example, team or audience.

Use a singular verb for a collective noun referring to a group as a unit.

For example, Joe’s  family   plans  a vacation every new year.

Here,  family  is a collective noun representing a unit. So, use the singular verb  plans .

Use a plural verb for a collective noun referring to a part that makes up the group.

For example, The Blue House  students   sing  in the choir on Tuesday .

Here,  students  is a collective noun representing every student from the Blue House. So, use the plural verb  sing .

Countable vs. uncountable nouns

Countable nouns are nouns you can count—for example, five numbers , one pen, and seven books.

On the other hand, uncountable nouns are nouns you cannot count—for example, water, rice, and air. So you can’t count them as one water, two rice, or nine air.

  • Use a determiner (a/an), if needed, with a countable noun . For example,  an apple  or a  table .
  • Uncountable nouns may identify abstract nouns.
  • Use a singular verb with uncountable nouns. For instance, she  puts   water  in the glass.

Verbal noun

A verbal noun is derived from a verb but doesn’t act like a verb.

For example, ‘build’ is a verb, and ‘building’ is a verbal noun.

Verb Verbal Noun

Arrive Arrival

Decide Decision

Draw Drawing

Repeat Repetition

Gender-specific noun

Gender-specific nouns identify a masculine or a feminine noun—for example, man and woman. ‘Man’ identifies as a male, and ‘woman’ identifies as a female.

Use names to identify particular gender-specific nouns—for example,  Sheldon  and  Melissa . ‘Sheldon’ identifies as a male, and ‘Melissa’ identifies as a female.

Tiger Tigress

Rooster Hen

Peacock Peahen

Actor Actress

Attributive nouns

An attributive noun is a modifier that works as an adjective—for example,  chicken soup.  Here  soup  is a noun, and  chicken  is an attributive noun that provides extra details about the noun  soup .

  • Use attributive nouns before and adjacent to a noun to make sense of its meaning.
  • Telephone  brand
  • Horror  movie
  • Hawaiian  island

Understanding plural nouns

How do plural nouns work.

Plural nouns refer to more than one quantity of a specified noun.

Examples of plural nouns

Common plural noun confusion.

Plural nouns are either regular or irregular nouns. To decide how to form the plural of a singular noun, look at the ending letters of the word and modify the noun accordingly. 

Refer to our detailed guide on Irregular plural nouns here to eliminate confusion regarding plural nouns.

understanding possessive

Possessive nouns show ownership. They usually have an apostrophe .

  • Tony has a car. 

Here Tony is not a possessive noun .

  • He is driving Tony’s car.

Here Tony is a possessive noun.

What are irregular plural nouns?

An irregular plural noun follows different rules than simply adding a -s or -es at the end of a singular noun.

  • Wolf becomes Wolves.
  • Person becomes People.

What are noun phrases?

A noun phrase is a group of words that pose as a single noun.

  • Ron and Edward study music.

The noun phrase is Ron and Edward, acting together as a single noun.

What are noun clauses?

A noun clause is a group of words containing a subject and a verb and works as a single noun. It may or may not make complete sense by itself.

Further , a noun clause can be both a subject and object of a verb in a sentence.

  • Patrick will do whatever you recommend.

Here, ‘whatever you recommend’ is a noun clause and works as a noun. The noun clause contains a subject ‘you’ and a verb ‘recommend.’

  • What you said was inspiring.

Here, ‘what you said’ is a noun clause and works as a noun. In the noun clause, you is the subject, said is the verb.

List of Nouns

Nouns

Nouns that start with A

  • Andrew – the name of a boy
  • Ambition – a feeling
  • A host of sparrows – a group of sparrows as a single unit
  • Amber – the name of a color
  • Australia – the name of a country
  • Ash – a powdery leftover from a burned object

Nouns

Nouns that start with N

  • Nose – part of a body
  • Noon – time of a day
  • Nina – the name of a girl
  • National Institute of Science – the name of an organization
  • Napkin – a piece of cloth
  • Nostalgia – a feeling of affection for the past

Nouns

Nouns that start with I

  • Ink – a fluid used for painting or writing
  • Irish – a person living in Ireland
  • Innovation – the process of finding something new
  • Igloo – a shelter-house built at snow
  • Icecream – a dessert
  • Impression – an impact of something

Nouns

Nouns that start with O

  • Ostrich – a bird’s name
  • Omen – a positive sign
  • Ontario – a Canadian province
  • Omnivores – someone who eats both plants and animals
  • Optimum – the best quality
  • Oman – the name of a country 

Nouns

Nouns that start with S

  • Serendipity – a joyous event that happened by accident
  • Salt – a substance used in cooking to add taste to the food
  • Sample – an example of something
  • Sandstone – a type of a rock
  • Solace – the feeling of peace
  • Sandwich – a food snack

Nouns

Nouns that start with P

  • Purifier – a machine that purifies water
  • Princess – a monarch’s daughter
  • Prime – the state of being at the top
  • Pellets – tiny, little droplets of a liquid
  • Penguin – a seabird 
  • Pastry – a dessert 

Nouns

Nouns that start with C

  • Cathy – a girl’s name
  • Christmas – a festive season
  • Chocolates – a sweet
  • Cookie – a sweet snack
  • Catalog – a list of things or items
  • Camel – the name of an animal

Nouns

Nouns that start with R

  • Radio – a machine to hear music
  • Remark – a statement made at someone or something
  • Rain – moisture
  • Remembrance – an act of remembering something
  • Reminiscence – a past story or memory
  • Rebel – a person who is risen with angst

Nouns

Nouns that start with M

  • Mall – a shopping complex
  • Mangroove – a shrub
  • Member – a part of a community or an organization
  • Mustache – growth of hair on the upper lip
  • Maria – a girl’s name
  • Medicine – a drug used to treat an illness

Nouns

Nouns that start with E

  • Eggplant – the name of a vegetable
  • Eminem – a boy’s name
  • Earth – the name of a planet
  • Effort – the quality of working hard
  • Ear – part of a body
  • Earthworm – a worm found in soil

Nouns

Nouns that start with W

  • Watercolors – the watery type of colors
  • Wafer – a crunchy snack
  • Wallpaper – a decorative paper to stick on the wall
  • Wage – payment
  • Warden – an authoritative person in an institute
  • Warmth – heat

Nouns

Nouns that start with B

  • Batman – a fictional comic character
  • Brother – a man or a boy 
  • Bribe – illegal money offered to someone 
  • Bristles – hair of a brush
  • Ben – a boy’s name
  • Biscoff – a cookie brand

Nouns

Nouns that start with V

  • Vanity – the quality of being useless
  • Veronica – the name of a girl
  • Vampire – a fictional character
  • Violin – a musical instrument
  • Vacation – holiday

Nouns

Nouns that start with K

  • Kim – the name of a boy
  • Kettle – a utensil to serve tea
  • Kite – a playing tool
  • Kenya – the name of a country
  • Krish – a boy’s name
  • Kangaroo – the name of an animal

Nouns

Nouns that start with G

  • Gains – achievement
  • Glitter – a shiny material
  • Gallon – a unit to measure fluids
  • Groom – the male in a wedding
  • Guitar – a musical instrument

Nouns

Nouns that start with J

  • Jim – a boy’s name
  • Jawbone – a type of a bone 
  • Jealousy – a negative emotion
  • Jitter – a state of being nervous
  • Juice – a fruit or vegetable extract in the form of a fluid
  • Joe – a boy’s name

Nouns

Nouns that start with F

  • Fan – the name of a machine
  • Fuschia – the representation of a color
  • Function – an event
  • Fun – state of enjoying oneself
  • Felton – the surname of an individual

A noun that receives the action performed by the subject usually interacts with a direct object. When a noun that is the recipient of a direct object can also get referred to as an indirect object.

Pronouns can identify a person. Although, they do not identify a place or thing.

Proper nouns are words that note names, like “America” or “Sam.” Proper nouns refer to a place or name.

Yes, depending on how many there are (and countable or uncountable), will depend on how their plural form is used. Some nouns have a plural form identical to that of the singular: sheep/sheep.

A noun phrase functions in a clause or sentence to play the role of a subject, object, or complement of a verb or preposition.

Mass nouns are used after the words “a” or “an” or after a number.

“Courage” is a great example of an abstract noun. Courage cannot be seen or sensed. Although, we know that it exists.

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Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

Core lessons

  • Abstract Noun
  • Accusative Case
  • Active Sentence
  • Alliteration
  • Adjective Clause
  • Adjective Phrase
  • Adverbial Clause
  • Appositive Phrase
  • Body Paragraph
  • Compound Adjective
  • Complex Sentence
  • Compound Words
  • Compound Predicate
  • Common Noun
  • Comparative Adjective
  • Comparative and Superlative
  • Compound Noun
  • Compound Subject
  • Compound Sentence
  • Copular Verb
  • Collective Noun
  • Colloquialism
  • Conciseness
  • Conditional
  • Concrete Noun
  • Conjunction
  • Conjugation
  • Conditional Sentence
  • Comma Splice
  • Correlative Conjunction
  • Coordinating Conjunction
  • Coordinate Adjective
  • Cumulative Adjective
  • Dative Case
  • Declarative Statement
  • Direct Object Pronoun
  • Direct Object
  • Dangling Modifier
  • Demonstrative Pronoun
  • Demonstrative Adjective
  • Direct Characterization
  • Definite Article
  • Doublespeak
  • Equivocation Fallacy
  • Future Perfect Progressive
  • Future Simple
  • Future Perfect Continuous
  • Future Perfect
  • First Conditional
  • Gerund Phrase
  • Genitive Case
  • Helping Verb
  • Irregular Adjective
  • Irregular Verb
  • Imperative Sentence
  • Indefinite Article
  • Intransitive Verb
  • Introductory Phrase
  • Indefinite Pronoun
  • Indirect Characterization
  • Interrogative Sentence
  • Intensive Pronoun
  • Inanimate Object
  • Indefinite Tense
  • Infinitive Phrase
  • Interjection
  • Intensifier
  • Indicative Mood
  • Juxtaposition
  • Linking Verb
  • Misplaced Modifier
  • Nominative Case
  • Noun Adjective
  • Object Pronoun
  • Object Complement
  • Order of Adjectives
  • Parallelism
  • Prepositional Phrase
  • Past Simple Tense
  • Past Continuous Tense
  • Past Perfect Tense
  • Past Progressive Tense
  • Present Simple Tense
  • Present Perfect Tense
  • Personal Pronoun
  • Personification
  • Persuasive Writing
  • Parallel Structure
  • Phrasal Verb
  • Predicate Adjective
  • Predicate Nominative
  • Phonetic Language
  • Plural Noun
  • Punctuation
  • Punctuation Marks
  • Preposition
  • Preposition of Place
  • Parts of Speech
  • Possessive Adjective
  • Possessive Determiner
  • Possessive Case
  • Possessive Noun
  • Proper Adjective
  • Proper Noun
  • Present Participle
  • Quotation Marks
  • Relative Pronoun
  • Reflexive Pronoun
  • Reciprocal Pronoun
  • Subordinating Conjunction
  • Simple Future Tense
  • Stative Verb
  • Subjunctive
  • Subject Complement
  • Subject of a Sentence
  • Sentence Variety
  • Second Conditional
  • Superlative Adjective
  • Slash Symbol
  • Topic Sentence
  • Types of Nouns
  • Types of Sentences
  • Uncountable Noun
  • Vowels and Consonants

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Home / Guides / Grammar Guides / Nouns: What’s in a Name?

Nouns: What’s in a Name?

With a name that means, literally, ‘to name’, it’s pretty impossible to imagine the English language—or any language—without the noun. But while we use them constantly to provide clarity and identify the things that we’re talking or writing about, this hugely essential word type still has some surprises up its sleeve. This guide should give you a deeper understanding of this seemingly simple element of language, and allow you to use them correctly in your work. You can also check out this  useful reference  to consolidate your learning. If you’re currently working on a paper and would find a quick and easy grammar check useful, upload your essay for free at EasyBib.com. You can also use our fantastic citation tool to help cite your sources using popular styles such as MLA and  APA format .

Guide Overview

  • What is a noun?
  • Controversy and crossover
  • Where the magic happens
  • Phrase or clause?
  • Types of nouns list
  • Can you count it?
  • Good and proper
  • Getting possessive
  • A blessing of unicorns
  • Friendly compounds
  • The pronoun takeover
  • Grammar help is here!

What is a Noun?

At first glance, the noun definition is fairly straightforward—they’re naming words used to refer to a person, place, thing or idea. They’re arguably the most important element of any sentence, as they’ll usually be its subject. They can also be the direct object of a sentence. Or the indirect object. Or the object of the  preposition . And they can do much more besides that. So you get the idea that we’d find it very difficult to communicate without these superstars of the grammar world!

Controversy and Crossover

As they’re so important, the question ‘what is a noun?’ has been debated and discussed at length by linguists and grammar experts, often sparking some disagreement about the definition. Some feel that to define them as “naming words” is far too simplistic, as they’re also used to reference abstract and intangible concepts, feelings and activities such as  birth, sport, joy, cookery  and  technology . There’s also huge crossover with other elements of language. For example: Rain

  • Verb — to rain
  • Name of weather type — rain
  • Adjective — red
  • Name of color — red
  • As an  adverb  — angrily
  • As an adjective — angry
  • Name of a feeling — anger

Because this single word type encompasses so many different things, some linguists feel that the definition should be narrowed. However, for now, we’re happy to stick with the generalization that it’s a naming word. For more on the various definitions of different parts of the English language, check out this  useful link .

Where the Magic Happens

Although it can lead to confusion, the fact the noun is multi-functional is part of its charm. Let’s take a look at some of the jobs that these hard-working words can perform in a sentence. Subject:  the subject of the sentence, i.e., someone or something performing the action of the  verb .

  • Example:  Harry  is angry.

Direct object:  the direct object of the sentence, i.e., someone or something who receives the action of the verb.

  • Example: Ashley baked  Noah  a cake.

Object of the preposition:  the object of the prepositional phrase.

  • Example: Ashley baked a cake on  Sunday .

Subject complement:  follows a linking verb.

  • Example: Ashley is a  teacher .

Object complement:  follows a direct object to rename or modify it.

  • Example: She named her dog  Benji .

Appositive:  immediately follows another to add more information.

  • Example: Her dog,  Benji , is black.

Modifier:  acts as an  adjective  to modify another noun.

  • Example: A  black  dog.

Phrase or Clause?

In addition to your run of the mill single naming words, you can also use a noun clause or phrase to name or identify a person, object, thing, place or idea. A phrase has a naming word as its head word but may also include other kinds of words. For example:

  • Head word  — car/cars
  • Determiner  — My car
  • Determiner and adjective  — My red car
  • Quantifier  — Some cars
  • Quantifier and adjective  — Some red cars
  • In a sentence  —  My red car  is very old. ( My red car  is the phrase that identifies which car we are talking about.)

Caution! Don’t confuse a phrase with a compound, i.e., two or more words together to create a stand-alone common or proper noun with a meaning of its own (more on compounds later!). A clause is a dependent clause (doesn’t make sense alone) that performs the naming function in a sentence. It usually contains a subject and a verb, but may not necessarily contain a naming word. For example:

This weekend we can do  whatever you want .

Types of Nouns List

There are multiple types of naming words to get a grip on, and plenty of crossovers between categories too—just to keep things interesting! For example:

  • You can have a mass, abstract, common name.
  • Or a singular, concrete, proper, compound, or possessive name (phew!).

Don’t worry! This should become clearer as we work through the different categories in turn. If you’d like to do some more in-depth reading on the subject, you can  find more info  online.

Singular or Plural

You can have singular or plural nouns, with regulars keeping things nice and simple with the addition of  s  or  es .

  • Car — cars
  • Book – books
  • Zoo — zoos
  • Box — boxes
  • Dish — dishes
  • Hero — heroes

However, there are lots of rule-breaking irregulars thrown into the mix to complicate matters.

  • Man — men
  • Person — people
  • Sheep — sheep
  • Elf — elves
  • Fish — fish
  • City — cities

Concrete vs Abstract

As noted earlier, these debate-sparking naming words can be difficult things to define. So it can help to think of them as either concrete or abstract. Concrete nouns are the simpler of the two. They’re tangible things that can be detected by the senses. For example:

  • You can touch, see and smell a  flower .
  • You can hold a  pencil .
  • You can see your friend  Emily .

Abstract nouns are far trickier to pin down—both literally and metaphorically speaking!

  • You can’t hold  anger  or  space  or  childhood .

However, some people might argue that you can identify some abstracts with your senses. For example:

  • You can see an expression of  anger .
  • You can sense  fresh air .

So it might be more helpful to think of them as something that you can’t physically hold, i.e., concepts, ideas, experiences, qualities and feelings.

Can You Count It?

Naming words can either be  count  or  noncount . Count type doesn’t tend to give you much trouble—they’re, as the name suggests, something that can be counted. Noncount type (also known as mass nouns), however, are a whole different ball game! These rebellious words are definitely the evil twin of the two, as they defy several of the usual rules of grammar and, if you’re not careful, can cause chaos and confusion. Count:  something that can be counted, e.g.,  books, people, cars. Simple! Noncount (Mass):  something that can’t be counted (often because it’s an abstract concept), e.g.,  air, red, peace.  Or an aggregation of people or things that are lumped together as a whole, like  luggage, information,  or  salt. Not quite so simple! Caution! Be careful not to confuse noncounts with collectives, words which are used to name a collection of people or things (e.g.,  group, herd, bundle ). An easy way to test whether a word is noncount or collective is:

  • Noncounts don’t follow indefinite articles ( a  and  an ).
  • Noncounts don’t  usually  have a plural form.

For example, you don’t have  a luggage  or  luggages .

An Awkward Bunch

Despite the fact that they often represent an aggregation of people or things, noncounts can be a rather anti-social and awkward word type! They like to stand alone, without an indefinite article:

Music  can help you relax.

Not ‘ a music  can help you relax.’

I sprinkled  salt  on my food.

Not ‘I sprinkled  a salt  on my food.’ However, they can sit nicely with a  determiner  or quantifier instead.

  • Determiner  —  The music  was loud.
  • Quantifier  — I sprinkled  some salt  on my food.

In fact, some quantifiers only work with noncounts. For example:

  • A little  salt
  • Not much  information
  • A bit of  music

However, we would never say:

  • A little  books
  • Not much  cars
  • A bit of  flowers

The Singular or Plural Conundrum

Another quirk of the noncount is that, even when it represents an aggregation or group of things, it can still count as singular for grammatical purposes. For example:

The  luggage  is  heavy.  It  filled the trunk of the car. This  information  is  useful.  It  has helped me with my paper.

Even if a noncount appears to take a plural form with an  s  on the end, don’t be fooled! It may still be classed as grammatically singular. For example:

Politics  is a  difficult  subject  to study. I find  it  hard to grasp. The  news  is  on at 10 pm.  It’s  on for an hour.

On the flip side, some noncounts are grammatically plural. For example:

My  clothes  are  wet. The  scissors  are  sharp. His  manners  were  fantastic.

However, these go against the grain of plurals by not mixing well with numbers—we never say five clothes or six scissors!

Enumerating a Noncount

These awkward noncounts on the whole don’t mix well with numbers, although there are sneaky tactics that you can sometimes employ to enumerate them. These include:

  • Grammatically plural  — if concrete, add  a pair of , e.g., a pair of  scissors .
  • Grammatically singular  — if concrete, add  a piece of , e.g., a piece of  cutlery .
  • Singular and plural  — both concrete and abstract noncounts can be enumerated by adding an indefinite adjective (quantifier), e.g.,  any, some, less, much .

For example:

  • Pass me  some  cutlery .
  • I don’t have  any  scissors .
  • It contains  more  information .

Fewer vs Less

A quick note on fewer versus less as these are indefinite adjectives (quantifiers) that often trip people up!

  • Fewer  — used for count type, e.g., I have  fewer   books  than Sarah.
  • Less  — used for non-count type, e.g., I have  less   money  than Sarah.

Good and Proper

A proper noun is used to name very specific people, places, things and ideas. As their ‘proper’ title suggests, they’re formal names and, as such, deserve capitalization. Examples include:

  • People  —  Sarah, Jack, Mrs. Smith, Prince George, Father Brown, Beethoven
  • Specific places  —  America, Europe, Paris, George Street, Roman Empire, Times Square
  • Natural and man-made landmarks  —  River Nile, Central Park, Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building, Mount Etna
  • Religions and related words  —  Christianity, The Bible, God, Allah, Buddhism
  • Races and nationalities  —  African American, Russian, White, Eskimo, Japanese
  • Languages  —  French, Spanish, Chinese, English
  • Periods in history  —  Stone Age, Middle Ages
  • Events  —  Olympic Games, Coachella, Wimbledon, Rio Carnaval, Oktoberfest
  • Days, months and holidays  —  Sunday, Friday, June, October, Thanksgiving, Memorial Day  (note that the seasons are, somewhat contentiously, classed as common)
  • Organizations, charities and businesses  —  New York Police Department (NYPD), Harvard University, Microsoft, Red Cross, Walmart, Forbes
  • Product brand names  —  Tresemme, Adidas, Apple, Coca-Cola
  • Well-known documents and acts  —  Declaration of Independence, Bill of Rights, Magna Carta, Slavery Abolition Act 1833
  • Names of specific things and works  —  Hope Diamond, Mona Lisa, Symphony No. 5, Star Wars, War and Peace
  • Titles of publications and courses  —  The Washington Post, Introduction to Computer Science
  • They can be singular  —  Sally, Australia, Picasso, iPad
  • Or plural  —  the Smiths, the Rockies, the Americas, two iPads

From Proper to Common

Sometimes, they bend the rules to put themselves into a ‘common’ context. For example:

I made a mistake of  Titanic  proportions.

This is taken to mean a big mistake and isn’t literally referencing the Titanic ship.

I’m an  Einstein  when it comes to science.

Here Einstein is taken to mean a person who is smart, rather than referencing the man himself specifically. Similarly, over time, some have developed common ‘spin-off’ words. For example:

  • Famous porcelain from   China  — a china cup (note, not a China cup)
  • Coca-Cola  — coke (to describe a generic cola drink, not necessarily the Coca-Cola brand)

The Humble Common Noun

Common nouns  give a name to a general type of person, thing, object, place, concept or feeling. They’re not ‘formal’ names and, as such, they don’t demand capitalization. Examples include:

  • People  —  man, woman, girl, boy, vicar, teacher, children
  • Places  —  city, beach, library, street, garden
  • Things  —  tiger, leg, sleep, beard
  • Objects  —  watch, cake, shoe, ball
  • Concepts  —  peace, justice, talent, religion
  • Feelings  —  anger, joy, love, envy

In many cases, both a common and proper noun can be applied to the same thing. For example:

  • A  Baby Ruth  (proper) is a  chocolate bar  (common).
  • Rihanna  (proper) is a popular  singer  (common) in the US.
  • Mrs. Smith  (proper) is a  teacher  (common).
  • Benji  (proper) is a  dog  (common).
  • The  Nile  (proper) is a  river  (common).

Of course, you can define proper noun words as having a far narrower application as they can only apply to one very specific thing. Common noun examples have a much wider application—hence their label as ‘common’! For example:

There are thousands of  singers  (common) in the world, but there’s only one  Taylor Swift (proper).

When a Commoner Becomes Proper

Occasionally, a commoner can move up the ranks to become proper—gaining that all-important capitalization along the way. This usually happens when a word becomes synonymous over time with a very specific type of thing. For example, a  parka jacket  depicts a type of long, all-weather coat. But you could argue that the term  Parka  is so synonymous with a very specific type of jacket that it should be classed as proper. This is definitely one for the grammar experts to slog out between themselves!

Getting Possessive

Possessive nouns are usually followed by another naming word, indicating that the second thing ‘belongs’ to the first. There are different ways to indicate this possession, depending on the word in question. These can become confusing, so let’s look at them in turn. Singular possessives  are usually indicated with ‘s. For example:

  • the  girl’s  coat
  • Emma’s  car
  • the  city’s  main landmark

As are  plural possessives  that don’t end in  s . For example:

  • the  men’s  bathroom
  • children’s  toys

In the case of a  plural possessive  that ends in  s , you simply need to add an  apostrophe (‘). For example:

  • the  girls’  coats
  • the  Smiths’  house
  • the  tigers’  pen
  • the  computers’  manufacturer

When we come to  singular possessives  that end in  s , the waters get a little bit muddier. The most popular method used to form a singular possessive is to add  ‘s , as detailed above. For example:

  • James’s  book
  • the  bus’s  engine

However, just adding the  apostrophe  is also commonly accepted. For example:

  • James’  book
  • the  bus’  engine

The Importance of the Apostrophe

You’ll notice that subtle differences in your sentence structure can completely alter its meaning, so it’s important to get your grammar on point. For example:

  • the girl’s coat  — belonging to one particular girl
  • the girls’ coat  — a coat designed to be worn by a girl
  • the girl’s coats  — more than one coat belonging to one particular girl)
  • the girls’ coats  — a group of coats belonging to a group of girls

If you find yourself struggling to figure out where the apostrophe needs to go, why not run a free grammar check on your essay with EasyBib Plus? You can also use EasyBib.com to help cite the sources that you use when conducting  research  and writing your papers . The handy online tool can create citations in the popular APA and  MLA format , plus  more styles  including Chicago/Turabian. Simply find out which style of citation you need to use (ask your professor or lecturer) and let EasyBib Plus help you create them the easy way.

A Blessing of Unicorns

A collective noun is a name given to a collection or group of things. Although they represent more than one, they are usually classed as grammatically singular (in American English). For example:

  • The  pride  of lions made  its  way to water.
  • The  cast  of actors collected  its  award.
  • The  class  of students  was  dismissed early.

They can often stand-alone, if the context makes it clear what collection or group of things is being referred to. For example:

  • We followed the  herd  on safari.
  • I got the  cast  to sign my autograph book.
  • The  class  went on its field trip.

But be careful with this, as they can be used to represent very different things. For example:

  • flock  of tourists  or  flock  of birds  **  cluster  of spiders* or  cluster  of stars

So saying “I stared open-mouthed at the  cluster  before me” could have two very different meanings—you might be staring in wonder or staring in horror! Some collective nouns have developed a more general or colloquial meaning. For example, you get a  bunch  of flowers or a  bunch  of bananas. However,  bunch  is also used more generally to denote ‘several’ or ‘lots’. For example:

  • I saw a  bunch  of people that I knew.
  • Thanks a  bunch .

Kooky Collectives

Collectives are one of the quirkiest word types in the English language and include some unusual naming words. For instance, it’s difficult to imagine where the examples below came from. For example:

  • A  shiver  of sharks
  • A  quiver  of cobras
  • A  blush  of boys
  • A  disguising  of tailors
  • A  drunkship  of cobblers
  • A  worship  of writers
  • A  nest  of rumors

Friendly Compounds

Compound nouns consist of two or more words that have come together to form a new word with its own meaning. These are words that have decided they don’t want to stand-alone—they can work better together with another word! Both proper and common words can be compounded, and within these compounds are three sub-types. Proper

  • Closed  —  PlayStation, YouTube
  • Hyphenated  —  Coca-Cola, Chick-fil-A
  • Open Spaced  —  New York, Ritz Carlton Hotel
  • Closed  —  football, textbook
  • Hyphenated  —  mother-in-law, well-being
  • Open Spaced  —  bus stop, swimming pool

Wal-Mart Or Walmart?

Fun fact! Some popular brands have dropped their hyphens in recent years. For example, Wal-Mart switched to Walmart in 2009. This could possibly be because hyphenated domain names can cause issues for a brand’s online presence. Brands now have a whole host of digital considerations that simply weren’t on the table when they first decided on a name.

The Pronoun Takeover

While both concrete and abstract noun words are undeniably super useful and essential parts of the English language, they can be a bit much at times. Especially when you’re referring to the same thing several times in a sentence or section. For example:

Sally  loves  Fanta .  Sally  drinks  Fanta  every day.

This is where pronouns come in handy. These often small but ever so mighty words have the power to replace names and make your sentences flow much better. For example:

Sally  loves  Fanta .  She  drinks  it  every day.

This works for both proper and common types.

  • The  Empire State Building  (proper) is very tall.  It  stands at 443m.
  • Sally  (proper) loves  chocolate  (common).  She  eats  some  every day.
  • My  dog  (common) has a red  ball  (common).  He  likes to chase  it .

The antecedent nouns give a reference point for the pronouns.

Is I a Noun or a Pronoun?

Commonly used ‘people’ pronouns include  he, she, me, his  and  hers . However, there’s some debate as to the word  I . While  I  is commonly accepted as a first person  pronoun , it may not follow the usual antecedent rule. For example, if you were Sally, you wouldn’t write:

Sally  loves Fanta.  I  drink it every day.

Instead you’d simply write:

I  love Fanta.  I  drink it every day.

I  is also classed as a naming word in the following contexts:

  • I  — the name of a letter of the alphabet.
  • I  — the subject or object of self-consciousness, i.e. the ego.

This guide should hopefully have answered lots of naming word questions for you, such as ‘what is a possessive noun?’, but if you’re still struggling you can  learn more here . The list of nouns can be difficult to remember, for the simple fact that there are so many different categories and variations of these naming words. People, objects, places, ideas and feelings are things that don’t seem to have much in common—yet they all have names, which lumps them grammatically into the same (very large!) category.

Grammar Help is Here!

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Nouns starting with A-Z

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IMAGES

  1. Noun

    what is the noun for essay

  2. 5 examples of noun sentences in english

    what is the noun for essay

  3. 50 proper nouns, Definition and Examples

    what is the noun for essay

  4. 10 Types of Nouns in English Grammar (with Useful Examples) • 7ESL

    what is the noun for essay

  5. Nouns: Types of Nouns with Definition, Rules & Useful Examples

    what is the noun for essay

  6. Noun Clauses: Definition, Functions And Example Sentences

    what is the noun for essay

VIDEO

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  2. What Are Nouns? Definition & Examples (With Worksheet) 🛑 noun #english #englishgrammar #viral #yt

  3. English-Noun- Definition, Types with Examples

  4. Noun Phrase and the examples (Review)

  5. Pronoun

  6. Nouns

COMMENTS

  1. Essay Definition & Meaning

    essay 1 of 2 noun es· say ˈe-ˌsā senses 2, 3 & 4 also e-ˈsā Synonyms of essay 1 a : an analytic or interpretative literary composition usually dealing with its subject from a limited or personal point of view b : something resembling such a composition a photographic essay 2 a : effort, attempt especially : an initial tentative effort b

  2. ESSAY definition and meaning

    noun. 1. a short literary composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and generally analytic, speculative, or interpretative. 2. anything resembling such a composition. a picture essay. 3. an effort to perform or accomplish something; attempt. 4.

  3. ESSAY

    a short piece of writing on a particular subject, often expressing personal views In a school test, an essay is a written answer that includes information and discussion, usually to test how well the student understands the subject. (Definition of essay from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press) Examples of essay

  4. ESSAY

    ESSAY definition: 1. a short piece of writing on a particular subject, especially one done by students as part of the…. Learn more.

  5. essay_1 noun

    a short piece of writing on a particular subject, written in order to be published essay (by somebody) a collection of essays by prominent African American writers essay on somebody/something The book contains a number of interesting essays on women in society. essay about somebody/something Pierce contributes a long essay about John F. Kennedy.

  6. ESSAY Definition & Usage Examples

    noun a short literary composition on a particular theme or subject, usually in prose and generally analytic, speculative, or interpretative. anything resembling such a composition: a picture essay. an effort to perform or accomplish something; attempt.

  7. What Is a Noun?

    A noun is a word that represents a person, thing, concept, or place. Most sentences contain at least one noun or pronoun. For example, the sentences below contain anywhere from one to three nouns. Examples: Nouns in a sentence The dog ran very fast. June is my favorite month. Teachers emphasize the importance of grammar.

  8. What is a Noun? Definition and Examples

    What is a Noun? Definition and Examples | Chegg Writing Nouns are the building blocks for the English language. They name a person, place, thing or idea. Learn the basics in this comprehensive guide. Certain features require a modern browser to function. Please use a different browser, like Firefox, Chrome, or Safari Skip to content Books Rent/Buy

  9. essay, n. meanings, etymology and more

    late 1500s. The earliest known use of the noun essay is in the late 1500s. OED's earliest evidence for essay is from 1597, in the writing of Francis Bacon, lord chancellor, politician, and philosopher. It is also recorded as a verb from the Middle English period (1150—1500). essay is a borrowing from French. Etymons: French essai. See etymology.

  10. Writing Tips: What Is a Noun?

    These words always begin with a capital letter. Common nouns name generic things. Unlike proper nouns, these usually only begin with a capital letter at the start of a sentence. For example, "person" is a common noun since it refers to a generic thing. But "Duncan" is a proper noun since it names a specific person.

  11. What is a Noun? Definition, Rules And Examples Explained Simply

    A noun is a word that represents a person, place, thing, or idea. In other words, a noun is anything that can be named or identified. Nouns can be singular or plural, and they are used in sentences as subjects, objects, or complements. A noun is the main subject of a sentence and gives meaning to what is being conveyed.

  12. Nouns: Types of Nouns With Examples

    Nouns are everywhere in our writing. But what are all the types of nouns you come across, and how do you use them? A noun is a word that names something, such as a person, place, thing, or idea. In a sentence, nouns can play the role of subject, direct object, indirect object, subject complement, object complement, appositive, or modifier.

  13. What Is a Noun?

    A noun phrase is a noun or pronoun in combination with all the words that belong with it in the sentence, such as any articles, adjectives, or other determiners that modify the noun. A noun phrase can consist of the noun or pronoun alone or of a much longer series of words (always including at least one noun or pronoun).

  14. Noun

    A simple definition of nouns indicates that they are words that refer to people, places, or things (including abstract concepts like events and ideas). In most languages, including the English...

  15. ESSAY Synonyms: 76 Similar and Opposite Words

    noun Definition of essay 1 as in article a short piece of writing typically expressing a point of view school essays on what it means to be a patriot Synonyms & Similar Words Relevance article paper dissertation theme thesis composition treatise editorial column report commentary feature study review discussion write-up discourse causerie tract

  16. Introduction to nouns (video)

    It's a kind of noun called a proper noun, just like Raul is but we'll get to that later. So, Argentina is a noun. Argentina incidentally is a country and the word country is also a noun because it is a thing. So, sentence the third. He is a penguin. Now, a penguin is a living being or a thing so we can say oh yes, penguin, that is a noun as well.

  17. What Is a Pronoun?

    A pronoun is a word that stands in for a noun, often to avoid the need to repeat the same noun over and over. Like nouns, pronouns can refer to people, things, concepts, and places. Most sentences contain at least one noun or pronoun. People tend to use "pronouns" to mean personal pronouns specifically, but there are many other kinds of ...

  18. Nouns in the English Language: [Essay Example], 2272 words

    A noun is one of the eight parts of speech that is used to name a person, an animal, a place, a thing, a quality, a job title, a state and even an action: writing. Nouns are the largest class of words that one uses to name all the things we know about, have, see, hear, taste, smell, or feel .

  19. Nouns: Functions, Meaning of and How to Use

    Types of Nouns 1. Common Noun is a noun in general referring to person, animal, place, or thing. For example: man, boy, monkey, bank, gun, and television. A young man walks along the road. A monkey likes to eat banana. Sally work in a bank. A policeman sees a gun near the river. The children want to watch a television. 2.

  20. What is a Noun? (Types, Definition, Examples, Word Lists)

    A noun is a word that identifies a place, thing, name, animal, or anything with an identity.A noun can be living, non-living, countable, non-countable, tangible, or non-tangible. A noun is a word that names a person, place, thing, or idea. Deepen your understanding of nouns with a list of comprehensive noun examples.

  21. Free Essay: The Noun

    1. A determiner must be used before noun. 2. The article " a " or "an" can be used. 3. Only the number one can be used to state the amount. 4. Possessive adjectives can be used such as : my, his, our. 5. Quantifiers can't be used. 6. A demonstrative adjective can be used such as this, those. RULES FOR USING PLURAL COUNTABLE NOUNS

  22. Noun guide from EasyBib.com. Learn about the common and proper noun

    What is a noun? Controversy and crossover Phrase or clause? Can you count it? A blessing of unicorns