by Tom Fasano
A noun is a word that names something. The something that a noun names may be:
(1) An animate or an inanimate thing with physical existence: as, person, dog, plant, stone, winner, town.
(2) An abstract or spiritual concept: as, compassion, honor, hatred, honesty, love.
(3) Some quality or property belonging to an object; as, color, weight, thickness, density.
(4) An action: as, singing, exercising, dancing.
Note: In the sentence, “Studying is necessary to pass the exam,” studying is a noun because it is the name of an act and is the subject of the verb is; but notice that in “He was studying all night” studying is not a noun: it is a part of the verb was studying, which tells what he was doing.
Nouns fall into two classes; Common Nouns and Proper Nouns
(1) A Common Noun is the name for all the members of a class of objects — that is, the name is common to all the members of the class: as, state, country, man, bank, lake.
(2) A Proper Noun is the distinctive name of an individual member of a class: as, Virginia (a member of the class of state), Germany (country), William (man), Erie (lake).
The word “proper” traces its root through the word “property” and has the meaning of “one’s own.”
In writing, proper nouns are capitalized. Such words as Pepsi (That drink is a Pepsi), the French, a Canadian, a Moose (a member of the Moose Lodge), Democrats, Protestants, etc., are also capitalized. Although these nouns are names common to all the members of a class, they are the names of particular classes.
Special Classes. The two classes — common and proper — cover all nouns, but included in those two are some special classes.
(1) An Abstract Noun names a mental or abstract concept: as, benevolence, courtesy, trust, tranquility.
(2) A Collective Noun is the name of a collection or group of similar objects: as, mob, herd, club, team, company (a commercial organization), U.S. Navy, United Nations, Republican Party, Army Corps of Engineers.
(3) A Compound Noun consists of two or more nouns, or a noun combined with some other type of word, which forms a single idea: as, grandmother, highway, businessman, commander-in-chief, brother-in-law, sales department, payroll, Marriott Hotel, Apple Computer.
(4) A Count Noun names something that can be counted and can be either physical or abstract: as, pencil, pencils; mouse, mice; idea, ideas; dream, dreams.
(5) A Noncount Noun (also known as a Mass Noun) is the name of something that cannot be counted and is used only in the singular; it may or may not also be abstract: as, clutter, wisdom, silence, satisfaction, music.
Note: A collective noun can also be compound.
Copyright © 2012 Thomas Fasano.
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