Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Cleaning up that grammar #4

Nouns

Alright, so there won’t be a lot of drivel in this post, mainly because there is a lot to get through but also because I haven’t got much time!

There are 7 types of noun- including pronouns- in the English language. Bet you didn’t know that! It may sound like a lot to learn but we use them every day without realising. Once you read a short definition of each you’ll realise how simple it actually is. So here we go:

Common noun: we use common nouns for everyday names, objects, places, animals and abstract ideas (concept, quality or idea). Such as book, flower, vegetable, door, England, China, Moscow and- for abstract ideas- happiness, boredom, success, failure, rejection.
    Common nouns are split into two sections: concrete noun and abstract noun. A concrete noun is something you can classify with one or more of the five senses. However, an abstract noun describes something that has no physical existence such as a feeling.

Proper noun: proper nouns are used when you are speaking about a specific person/place/event. These are nouns such as Easter, Stephanie Meyer, Thursday, February, St Valentines Day, Spain and Tower of Pisa. Proper nouns are always started with a capital letter- even if it consists of more than one word- to show the importance of the noun.

Compound noun: a compound noun is made up of more than one word. It can be two nouns, which is more common, or a noun and an adjective; this makes a new ‘word’ with a completely unique meaning. They can be written as two separate, but coupled, words or as a hyphenated word. Examples are childhood, movie star, self-interest, chalkboard, cooking-oil and changing-room. Note that some words such as paperclip can be spelt in more than one way; paperclip, paper clip and paper-clip.
Countable noun:
believe it or not a countable noun is the name used for something that can be counted. Ergo three kittens, a hundred men, seven spoons. When we ask about a countable noun we often as how many are there? Or if we aren’t asking we are stating how many there are a number of chairs/goats/buttons. You can always easily count the specific number of items.

Mass (non-countable) noun:
unlike the countable noun, you can’t specifically give an amount. These always have no plurals- for the previous reason. Examples are sugar, fun, wisdom, curiosity, air, milk, to name but a few. We describe these as an amount of instead because we are referring to an unspecified amount of stuff or if there are too many individual bits (e.g. sand.) We can’t ask how many otherwise we’d ask how many milk? Instead we ask how much milk?

Collective noun: this noun talks about a group of individuals. Common examples are audience, team, group, flock, school, jury, family, class and many, many more. Unfortunately, collective nouns can be used for singular and plural verbs. The rule is: use a singular verb with the collective noun when the whole ‘group’ is acting as one. When you are describing the actions of individuals within a group you use plural verbs. (These are sometimes referred to as the formal agreement and the notional agreement.)

Simples! I will do a separate post for pronouns as there are 9 types of pronoun and this post would end up waaayy too lengthy!


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