There are a number of different parts of speech, according to multiple sources like Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition, Wikipedia, And Morenberg’s Doing Grammar, there are eight. In the following weeks, I plan to talk about all eight of them but today I wanted to start with Nouns.

Nouns are words that stand for people, places and things, as your kindergarten teacher must have explained. However, nouns are much more than that; nouns also refer to ideas and concepts.

Here are some examples:

Person: Glen Beck

Place: Manhattan

Thing: car

Idea: liberty

Concept: hate (but it depends on how it is used in a sentence.)

Nouns take a number of different places within sentences. They are often the Subject of the sentence, for example, Glen Beck talks. In the sentence, Glen Beck is the Noun that performs the action of talking. Sometimes they are the direct object of the verb like in this sentence “President Obama talks to Glen Beck.” In the sentence President Obama is the Subject Noun, talking is the action verb, and Glen Beck is the Direct Object of that action.

Obama and Beck: are they really friends?

Furthermore, the noun can take the form of an Indirect Object of the verb. Try this sentence. Let us pretend like Glen Beck and President Obama are hanging out at a pool party and Glen Beck wants a hot dog.

Glen Beck asks President Obama for a Hot Dog.

Obama knows how to make one hell of a hot dog!

In the above sentence, “Glen Beck” is the noun subject of the sentence. “President Obama” is the direct object of the verb “asks”. Hot dog would be the indirect object of the verb “asks” and the object of the prepositional phrase “for a hot dog”. There is a little more to this whole indirect and direct object thing. You are going to have to wait until after I teach you about verbs because it is confusing unless you learn about the different type of verbs.

Therefore, as you see a noun can be the subject, the direct object, the indirect object and even a modifier of another noun. If you notice the sentence “President Obama talks to Glen Beck” President Obama is the subject but it is more like that Obama is the subject whereas the noun president modifies the word Obama.

Furthermore, there are different classifications for nouns. You have proper and common nouns. In the above sentences, the nouns Manhattan, “Glen Beck,” and “President Obama” are all proper nouns. These nouns are distinguished by their status as being the specific name for a place, and people.

Proper Nouns:

Ford Focus

Glen Beck

Staten Island

“No Country for Old Men”

Common Nouns:

car

man

borough or place

movie

As you see not only are proper nouns characterized by using capitalization but also as the very specific nature of their reference. If a person wanted a car from a lot and said “I’ve come for a car” the person could be referring to any car on the lot, but if the person said “I’ve come for a Ford Focus” they have given the salesman a very specific request. The same goes with the difference between man and Glen Beck, place and Staten Island, movie and “No Country for Old Men.”

There are also Countable and uncountable nouns or count and mass nouns. A count noun is a noun that has the ability of being pluralized or combined with numeral or quantifiers. An example is gun, rock, or bottle.

One gun (number + noun) = gun

Two guns (number + noun) = guns = more than one gun

The most bottles = more bottles than x

Several rocks = a number of rocks (a pet peeve of mine is that several equals more than two as a couple refers to two and several would be three or more.)

In contrast to these countable nouns would be the mass or non-count nouns. Examples of mass nouns would be water, beer, furniture. As it is impossible (even if you hear moronic people in Manhattan or L.A. say so) to have “three waters”, you can only have water so when your waiter says “Three waters” respond by saying “No, three bottles of water.” Make sure to leave immediately afterwards as you might be subject to some tomfoolery for correcting the person.

Additionally, collective nouns are nouns that refer to groups of more than one, like committee, gaggle and more.

Moreover, there are concrete and abstract nouns. Concrete nouns are words that refer to tangible entities like cars, guns, and bottles of Jack Daniels. Abstract nouns are words that refer to intangible objects, like ideas and concepts like the original examples above like liberty and hate, although hate isn’t always a noun.” One way to identify an abstract noun is if you see the suffix –ness, -ity, or –tion, attached to a verb or adjective you have an abstract noun see words like happiness, indignation, and serenity.

References: Doing Grammar; Warriner’s Guide to English Grammar, Wikipedia, Lingual Links.

I hope this study into the different types of nouns helps you to become a better writer. In the coming weeks I will try to enhance your knowledge of Pronouns, Adjectives, Verbs, Adverbs, Prepositions, Conjunctions, and Interjections. In addition, even further into the year I will expand on the different punctuation marks and even phrases within sentences. I look forward to talking about grammar with you.

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