Words can be considered as the smallest independent elements in language and communication. In the English language, words can be classified under 8 major word types or parts of speech namely, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, verbs, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections. In this article, you will learn more about the most common and simplest word type, which is the noun.
What is a Noun?
In the simplest sense, a noun is any word that names people, things, animals, places, events, or ideas. Take a look at the sentences below:
- Jack Gleeson, the actor who plays as Joffrey in Game of Thrones, was the boy saved by Batman in Batman Begins.
- Beatrice and Carla will meet at the coffee shop on Tuesday.
- For me, birthdays are just ordinary days.
All of the underlined words in the sample sentences above are nouns. Now that you already know the answer to the question, “What is a noun?” it’s time to discuss the different functions, genders, and plural forms of nouns.
What are the Functions of a Noun?
A noun can function as a subject, an object (object of the preposition, direct object, indirect object), and a subject complement in a sentence.
- Arya Stark is really cool.
- In this example, the underlined noun serves as the subject in the sentence.
- They were supposed to meet at noon.
- The noun in this sentence functions as an object of the preposition. (at is the preposition)
- Jeremy is a swimmer.
- This sample sentence has two nouns, “Jeremy” and “swimmer”. “Jeremy” is a noun that serves as the subject, while the underlined noun acts as the subject complement.
- The beavers built a dam.
- In this sentence, “beavers” is the subject, the word “built” is the verb, and the underlined word is the noun that serves as the direct object (the thing that is acted upon).
- He gave Maria a love letter.
- This example has two nouns, “Maria” and “love letter.” The thing that is acted upon (direct object) is the “love letter,” while the indirect object is “Maria.” Simply put, an indirect object refers to the recipient or the one who gets the direct object.
What are the Different Genders of Nouns?
Aside from providing the answer to the question, “What is a noun?” and discussing the various functions, this article will also explore noun genders. Basically, there are four genders of nouns, and these are: masculine, feminine, common, and neuter.
- Examples: computer, city, pizza, bus, brownies, oven
2. Common– is the gender of nouns which can refer to either the male or female sex.
- Examples: student, driver, lawyer, criminal, leader, visitor
- Examples: sorcerer, actor, tiger, rooster, prince, fox, stag, bull, ram
- Examples: sorceress, actress, tigress, hen, princess, vixen, doe, cow, ewe
What are the Different Forms of Nouns?
Nouns normally come in their singular form, however, if these nouns name more than one person, place, thing, animal, event, or idea, it is necessary for you to transform them into their plural form.
These are most common ways of pluralizing nouns:
1. Add “s”
- bike- bikes
- trap- traps
- coin- coins
- game- games
- swimming pool- swimming pools
2. Add “es”
- beach- beaches
- potato- potatoes
- hero- heroes
- box- boxes
- torch- torches
3. Change “y” to “i,” and then add “es”
- butterfly- butterflies
- party- parties
- reply- replies
- factory- factories
- baby- babies
Note: Sometimes, you just have to add “s” without changing “y” to “i” (e.g., chimney- chimneys; trolley- trolleys)
4. Change “f” to “v,” and then add “s” or “es”
- wife- wives (“s” only)
- thief- thieves (“es”)
- loaf- loaves (“es”)
- knife- knives (“s” only)
- wolf- wolves (“es”)
Note: Sometimes, you only need to add “s” without changing “f” to “v” (e.g., cliff- cliffs; chef- chefs).
Other ways of pluralizing nouns:
1. For some nouns ending in “um,” change “um” to “a”
- medium- media
- curriculum- curricula
- bacterium- bacteria
- ovum- ova
- datum- data
2. For some nouns ending in “is,” change “is” to “es”
- crisis- crises
- analysis- analyses
- thesis- theses
- axis- axes
- oasis- oases
3. For some nouns ending in “us” change “us” to “i”
- radius- radii
- nucleus- nuclei
- fungus- fungi
- stimulus- stimuli
- bacillus- bacilli
4. Some nouns have the same singular and plural form
This article entitled “Parts of Speech: What is a Noun?” can be a good starting point in your exploration of the different types of words that can be regarded as the building blocks of grammar. If you want to have great grammar skills and improve your writing, you really need to have a good grasp of what is a noun, as well as the other parts of speech. These things can be considered among the most basic yet essential concepts in grammar, so it’s really important for you to be well acquainted with these before moving on to the more advanced topics.