by Tom Fasano
Object of a Preposition. A noun may be used as an Object of the Preposition.
The barista served the coffee to the customer.
King Lear and his fool walked across the heath.
The plane arrived from New York.
Here customer, heath, and New York are the objects of the prepositions to, across, and from, respectively. (Prepositions are words like to, from, under, through, during, between, above, by, over, before, after, etc.)
The object of the preposition answers the questions what? or whom? after the preposition: thus, “He swam across the lake.” Across what? — Answer, the lake.
In Apposition. The noun may be used in Apposition with another noun.
My brother, the taxi driver, has his own blog.
I heard my neighbor’s dog, Carson, barking.
We visited Richmond, the former capital of the Confederacy.
A noun in apposition stands for the same person or thing as the other noun: in other words, it is another name for the same person or thing. In a combination of two nouns with this sort of relation, the one that follows the first is said to be in apposition with the first, not the first with the second.
Note. A predicate noun and a noun in apposition with the subject of the sentence both stand for the same person or thing as the subject. What distinguishes them is that the predicate noun is connected to the subject by a verb.
My neighbor is a professor (predicate noun).
My neighbor, the professor, arrived at the party (apposition)
A noun in apposition may be separated from its related noun by several words, if the relation between the two nouns is clear.
A lone man walked across the desert, a solitary figure in the scorching landscape.
Objective Complement. A noun may be used as an Objective Complement.
We elected Barack Obama president.
They made my uncle supervisor.
The objective complement is so called because it is added to the direct object in order to complete the meaning expressed by the verb (“complement” is something that completes). Thus, in the second example, they didn’t make my uncle; they made my uncle supervisor. A simple test is to insert to be between the direct object and the noun following: for example, “They made my uncle to be supervisor.” If to be can be inserted in this position without changing the meaning of the sentence, then the second noun is an objective complement.
The objective complement is commonly used with verbs expressing the idea of choosing, making, electing, appointing and similar ideas, but there are exceptions.
Concertgoers considered Mozart a prodigy.
The police found the man a raving lunatic.
Nominative Absolute. A noun may be used Absolutely with a Participle to form what’s known as a Nominative Absolute construction.
The curtain rising, the audience anticipated the start of the play.
The book being short, I read it in two hours.
Her eyes rolling upwards, the girl made no effort to hide her disgust.
For now it is sufficient to say that a participle is a verb form ending in -ing, such as being and rising — although in a future podcast we will have to modify this definition. The nominative absolute construction consists of a noun followed by a participle.
When such a construction is placed at the beginning of the sentence, it must be carefully distinguished from the noun used as the subject of the verb.
For example, in the sentence, “The soldiers needing backup, the helicopters soon arrived,” soldiers is in the nominative absolute construction with the participle needing, and helicopters is the subject of the verb arrived. On the other hand, in “The soldiers, needing backup, radioed command for helicopters,” soldiers is not in a nominative absolute construction: it is the subject of the sentence (subject of the verb radioed).
Note. The word absolute, as used here, means “free” or “loose.” The noun in a nominative absolute construction is “free” from the traditional uses of a noun in a sentence, such as the subject or object of a verb.
Direct address. A noun may be used in Direct Address.
David, it would be better to explain that in an e-mail.
My illness, dear friend, is worse than imagined.
Sandy, come here.
Students, listen up.
Here David, friend, Sandy, and students are the names or words by which the persons are addressed. These nouns do not function as the subject of the verbs. The subject of the first sentence is it; in the second, illness; in the third and fourth the subject is you understood (the subject is usually omitted in a direct command because it is always you). With the third example, compare “Sandy comes here every day” — in which Sandy is the subject.
Take note that a word used in direct address is set off from the rest of the sentence by a comma or commas.
Any word having one of these nine uses in a sentence (covered in this and the previous podcast) is a noun or noun-equivalent in that sentence, despite the fact that it may be used as another part of speech in other sentences.
Run is a verb.
He mispronounced superfluous.
The poor pay more.
Nouns Used as Other Parts of Speech. Some words that are usually nouns may be used:
(1) As Adverbs (adverb-equivalents), to denote time, place, measure, etc.
We’re going on vacation tomorrow.
I went home.
She ran ten kilometers.
In etymology these words are nouns since they are the names of things; but in the above sentences they are used as adverbs (in a future podcast we will discover that any word that tells when, where, how, how much, or how far is an adverb.
(2) As Adjectives (adjective-equivalents).
This is my brother’s camera.
The football game was Sunday night.
Copyright © 2012 Thomas Fasano.
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