Properties of Nouns (1)

Written by Tom Fasano 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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