Principal Functions of Nouns (1)

Posted by on July 19, 2014 – 9:55 am

The Principal Functions of a noun in a sentence are:

1. Subject of a Verb6. Apposition
2. Predicate Noun7. Objective Complement
3. Direct Object of a Verb8. Nominative Absolute
4. Indirect Object of a Verb9. Direct Address
5. Object of a Preposition
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Subject of a Verb. A noun may be used as a subject of a verb.

The birds flew away.

The man jumped off the bridge.

Here comes the train.

The subject names the person or thing about whom or which something is said by the verb. In some sentences the subject follows the verb, as in the last example above.

Predicate Noun. A noun may be used as a predicate noun.

Hitler became the dictator of Germany.

The president of Russia is Vladimir Putin.

My grandfather was a clockmaker.

The gangster turned snitch.

Normally a predicate noun follows the verb and answers the question who? or what? It also stands for the same person or thing as the subject. For example, “Hitler became what?”—Answer, the dictator. “The president of Russia is who?”—Answer, Vladimir Putin. The dictator is the same person as Hitler (subject); Vladimir Putin is the same person as the president (subject).

Direct Object of a Verb. A noun may be used as the direct object of a verb.

The carpenter built a house.

The soldier killed the enemy.

The direct object names the receiver of the action denoted by the verb; it answers the question what? or whom? and it stands for a person or thing different from the subject. For example, “The carpenter built what?”—Answer, a house. “The soldier killed whom?” Answer, the enemy. The house is not the same person or thing as the carpenter (subject); the enemy is not the same person or thing as the soldier (subject).

Both the predicate noun and the direct object of a verb answer the same question, what? or who? (whom?). They are easily distinguished, however, by their relation to the subject: the predicate noun stands for the same person or thing as the subject; the direct object stands for a different person or thing. The only exception occurs in the use of a reflexive pronoun as the object of a verb.

The direct object occasionally precedes the subject of the verb.

These shoes she bought in Paris.

Indirect Object of a Verb. A Noun may be used as the Indirect Object of a Verb.

The man gave his wife a gift.

Mary bought her grandmother a Christmas card.

The indirect object tells to whom or to what, for whom or for what something is done. In the first sentence above, the direct object gift tells what the man gave, and the indirect object wife tells to whom he gave it; in the second sentence, the direct object Christmas card tells what Mary bought, and the indirect object grandmother tells for whom she bought it.

A phrase beginning with the preposition to or for can be used in place of an indirect object. Thus, the first sentence would become “The man gave a gift to his wife”; the second sentence would become “Mary bought a Christmas card for her grandmother.” With an indirect object, the to or for is never expressed in the sentence; when expressed, the noun is an object of a preposition and not an indirect object.

Also included in the class of indirect objects are certain nouns that are equivalent to of whom when used after the verb ask. Thus, the sentence, “The teacher asked the student a question,” is equivalent to “The teacher asked a question of the student.” In this instance the idea of to is also present because asking something of a person is the syntactic equivalent of addressing one’s self to him or her.

As a general rule only the possessive case is not used with inanimate objects. A phrase with of is used instead: thus, “the cover of the book” (not “the book’s cover”); “the branches of the tree” (not “the tree’s branches”). There are exceptions to this rule: time’s delay, ship’s mast, earth’s surface, tree’s fruit, etc.

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Properties of Nouns (2)

Posted by on July 7, 2014 – 9:06 am

Case

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Case is that property of a noun or pronoun that indicates the relation of the noun or pronoun to the rest of the sentence.

Nouns have three cases.

(1) The Nominative Case is used in the subject of a verb and in the predicate noun.

The politician spoke with emphasis.

The boy is an athlete.

(2) The Objective Case is used for the object of a verb or preposition.

The farmer built a fence.

He drove across the country.

(3) The Possessive Case denotes possession.

This is the gentleman’s hat.

Forms.

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The three cases have the following forms.

SINGULARPLURALSINGULARPLURAL
Nominativeboyboysladyladies
Possessiveboy'sboys'lady'sladies'
Objectiveboyboysladyladies
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The Nominative and Objective cases of a noun have the same form. Thus, there can be no confusion in the use of them.

The Possessive Case of a noun is marked by the use of an apostrophe (’).

(1) The possessive case of a singular noun is regularly formed by adding an ’s to the end of the noun: as, woman’s, mayor’s, girl’s.

(2) The possessive case of a plural noun is formed:

(a) By adding an apostrophe to the simple plural when the plural ends in s: as, dogs’ (simple plural, dogs), girls’ (simple plural, girls).

(b) By adding ’s, as in the singular, when the simple plural does
not end in s: as, women’s (simple plural, women), children’s (simple plural, children).

For singular nouns that end in s or an s-sound (like ce) add only an apostrophe: as, Moses’ story, Jesus’ crucifixion, for conscience’ sake. This is also true when other s-sounds follow: as, Odysseus’ adventure. Use of the regular ’s in such instances is not, however, incorrect.

(3) In compound nouns or in titles or names having a unit idea,
an apostrophe (’) or an apostrophe s (’s) is added to the last member of the group: as, mother-in-law’s, the Prince of Wales’, the Queen of England’s. Usage is divided for some compounds: attorneys general’s or attorney generals’.

The possessive case usually denotes possession.

John’s car was stolen.

A crowd occupied the city’s square.

Sometimes the possession is of a modified type. For example, in the expressions, “Einstein’s theories” and “Wordsworth’s poems,” Einstein and Wordsworth are the possessors only in the sense that they are the theorists or creators. Compare the two kinds of possession indicated in the following sentence: “This is David’s copy of Wordsworth’s collected poems.”Some instances of possession indicate a lack of ownership entirely: a day’s work, my year’s salary, the law’s delay. These phrases mean “the work of a day,” “my salary for a year,” “the delay of the law.”

A noun in the possessive case is usually equivalent to a phrase beginning with of. For example, we may say either “Hardy’s poems” or “the poems of Hardy”; “the governor’s mansion” or “the mansion of the governor”; “the President’s agenda” or “the agenda of the President.” We would not, however, say “the car of Johnny” for “Johnny’s car,” or “the law of Murphy” for “Murphy’s law.” When making such distinctions in usage, the student must be guided by his or her ear for what sounds correct.

As a general rule only the possessive case is not used with inanimate objects. A phrase with of is used instead: thus, “the cover of the book” (not “the book’s cover”); “the branches of the tree” (not “the tree’s branches”). There are exceptions to this rule: time’s delay, ship’s mast, earth’s surface, tree’s fruit, etc.

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Properties of Nouns (1)

Posted by on July 6, 2014 – 10:01 am

Nouns have Number, Gender, and Case.

Number

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Number is that aspect of a noun that designates whether one or more objects is indicated.

(1) The Singular Number indicates one object only: as, cat, lake, woman.

(2) The Plural Number indicates two or more objects: as, cats, lakes, women.

The plural number in most instances is formed by adding -s or -es to the singular form: as spoon, spoons; glass, glasses; house, houses; fax, faxes.

Gender

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Gender is that property of a noun or pronoun that indicates the sex of an object. In English these distinctions are a matter of biology or custom, not actual grammatical gender, as it is in French, for example.

There are three genders: Masculine, Feminine, and Neuter.

(1) The Masculine Gender indicates a being of the male sex: as, man, son, nephew, bull, father, Anthony.

(2) The Feminine Gender indicates a being of the female sex: as, woman, lady, sister, niece, hen, sow, Sophia.

(3) The Neuter Gender indicates an object of no sex: as, tree, rock, carton, city, ground, clouds, tomatoes.

In addition to these three genders, the term Common Gender refers to nouns that may be either masculine or feminine but don’t designate any particular gender specifically: as, ancestor, baby, schoolmate, spouse, parent, teacher.

Note. Some inanimate objects are often spoken of as if they were feminine. For example, ships are often spoken of as she, as are automobiles and trains; also the Catholic Church has traditionally been referred to as feminine. Sometimes in poetry, celestial objects such as the moon are referred to as she; the sun, as he. These uses are chiefly historical or poetical. In ordinary prose, especially in science, these words are treated as neuter, with the possible exception of ship, which stubbornly retains its feminine reference.

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