The Writing Centre HyperGrammar
The Parts of Speech
What is a Noun?
A noun is a word used to name a person, animal, place, thing, and abstract idea. Nouns are usually the first words which small children learn. The
highlighted words in the following sentences are all nouns:
Late last year our neighbours bought a goat.
Portia White was an opera singer.
The bus inspector looked at all the passengers' passes.
According to Plutarch, the library at Alexandria was destroyed in 48 B.C.
Philosophy is of little comfort to the starving.
A noun can function in a sentence as a subject, a direct object, an indirect object, a subject complement, an object complement, an appositive, an
adjective or an adverb.
Many common nouns, like "engineer" or "teacher," can refer to men or women. Once, many English nouns would change form depending on their
gender -- for example, a man was called an "author" while a woman was called an "authoress" -- but this use of gender-specific nouns is very rare
today. Those that are still used occasionally tend to refer to occupational categories, as in the following sentences.
David Garrick was a very prominent eighteenth-century actor.
Sarah Siddons was at the height of her career as an actress in the 1780s.
The manager was trying to write a want ad, but he couldn't decide whether he was advertising for a "waiter" or a "waitress"
Most nouns change their form to indicate number by adding "-s" or "-es", as illustrated in the following pairs of sentences:
When Matthew was small he rarely told the truth if he thought he was going to be punished.
Many people do not believe that truths are self-evident.
As they walked through the silent house. they were startled by an unexpected echo.
I like to shout into the quarry and listen to the echoes that returned.
He tripped over a box...