Nouns: What is a noun? Collective Nouns, Abstract Nouns, Common Nouns, Proper Nouns, Noun Meaning and Definition with Examples for Types of Nouns

Nouns: What is a noun? Collective Nouns, Abstract Nouns, Common Nouns, Proper Nouns, Noun Meaning and Definition with Examples for Types of Nouns

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Learning Pundits Content Team

Written on Sep 30, 2017 12:05:03 AM

Grammar Rules with 10 Tips on using Nouns

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What is a Noun?

A noun is a word that denotes the name and quality of a person, animal, place, thing, or idea.

Functions of Noun:

a)    Noun as a subject: tells us what that sentence is all about. Harish plays with a cricket bat.

b)    Noun as a direct object: receives action from verbs. Harish plays with a cricket bat.

c)    Noun as an indirect object: receives the direct object. Harish threw Arun the ball.

d)    Noun as the object of a preposition: follows the prepositions in prepositional phrases. John threw the ball at Arun.

e)    Noun as a predicate nominative: follows linking verbs and renames the subject. Harish is a cricket player.

f)     Noun as an object complement: completes the direct object. They named their dog Rusty.

g)    Noun as an appositive: renames other nouns. My friend Harish likes to play cricket.

Types of Nouns:

a)    Abstract noun names an idea, event, quality, or concept that can’t be seen or touched. (Bravery, determination, freedom, love, courage, joy etc.

b)    Concrete noun can be seen or touched and is recognizable through the senses. (Tree, hammer, table, dog, house etc.)

c)    Collective noun denotes a group of things or people as a unit. (Team, choir, pack, family, flock, audience etc.)

d)    Common noun is the name of a class or a group of similar things. (Girl, boy, dog, table, book, window etc.

e)    Proper noun refers to the given name of a single person, place or thing. Proper nouns begin with a capital letter. (New Delhi, Himalayas, New York etc.)

f)     Compound nouns refer to two or more nouns combined to form a single noun. (Rainfall, bedroom, passer-by, sister-in-law, schoolboy, fruit juice etc.)

g)    Countable nouns can be counted and they have a singular and a plural form. (Books, cars, dogs, friends, chairs, houses, boys etc.

h)    Uncountable nouns can't be counted and can only be used in the singular form. (Milk, food, music, money, bread, water, coffee etc.)

i)     Animate noun refers to a person, animal, or other creature. (Bird, man, elephant, chicken etc.)

j)     Inanimate or Material noun refers to a material object. (Gold, stone, wood, table etc.)

k)    Possessive noun shows ownership or a relationship of belonging between one thing and another using apostrophe with‘s’. (Jeet’s car, mother’s house, day’s work etc.)

l)     Verbal noun is derived from verbs but has no verb-like properties. (A good building, a fine drawing etc.)

m)  Singular noun refers to one person, place, idea or thing. (Man, box, hand etc.)

n)    Plural noun refers to more than one person, place, idea or thing and generally ends with‘s’ except for Irregular Nouns. (Men, boxes, hands etc.)

o)    Gendered noun shows Masculine, Feminine, Common and Neuter gender by different forms or different words when referring to people or animals. (Example of Masculine-Feminine are: man-woman, father-mother and rooster-hen. Nouns like cousin, teenager, teacher, doctor, student and friend are Common Gender, can be used for either a masculine or a feminine context. Neuter Gender denotes a thing that is neither male nor female like book, pen etc.)

Capitalization of Nouns:

1.    When noun is at beginning of a sentence. Dogs are barking.

2.    Always use capital letters for Proper Nouns: capital letters for the names of people, places, planets, titles of rank or relationship (when joined to person’s name, e.g., Sergeant Singh, Uncle Tom), months, holidays, departments, clubs, companies, institutions, bridges, buildings, monuments, parks, ships, hotels, streets, historical events, documents, titles of books, works and movies, months of the year, days of the week, holidays and names of countries, continents, rivers, cities, towns etc.

3.    Do not use a capital letter for a common noun unless it is at the beginning of a sentence.


a)    The next church the tourists visited was the Church of England. (The word ‘church’ is a common noun. Church of England is a proper noun and is the name of the particular church.)

b)    The day is celebrated as Friendship Day. (‘day’ is common noun but ‘Friendship Day’ is proper noun)

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Tips on using Nouns:

Tip #1: Advices, an Advice, Some Advice

Advice, Employment, Information, Equipment and Machinery: Uncountable Nouns like these are used in singular form only.

§ I don’t like taking advices.

Indefinite article is not used before Uncountable nouns.

a)    She gave me an information.

b)    She gave me a piece of information. (Indefinite article used to denote singularity)

c)    Remain true to your words. (‘Word’ in sense of message, discussion, promise)

‘Much’ and ‘some’ is used to denote Plurality in place of ‘Many’.

  • He gave me some advice.

Tip #2: Collective Noun

Team Staff, Herd, Committee, House, Jury, Family, Mob, Crowd, Board, Police and Public: These Collective Nouns can be singular or plural depending on the context of the sentence.

Singular: Used with a singular verb when they focus on the individual elements acting together as one unit.

  •  The audience was spellbound. (Here ‘audience’ is a single unit)

Plural: Used with plural verb when they focus on the individuals among the group.

  •  The audience were asked to take their seats. (Here ‘audience’ is seen as many individuals)

Cattle, Gentry, Peasantry, Poultry, Clergy, People, Majority and People: these are always used with a plural verb.

  • Cattles are grazing in the field.

Tip #3: Plural Nouns with Singular Verb

News, Series, Innings and Summons: Some nouns have a plural form but take a singular verb.

  •  News is broadcasted in the evening.

Branches of Learning: Mathematics, Physics, Economics, Statistics (as subject, not collection of data)

  •  Mechanics is gaining popularity.

Games and Sports: Billiards, Athletics, Aquatics, Gymnastics

  • Athletics is encouraged among kids.

Diseases: Mumps, Measles, Rickets

  •  Is Mumps a contagious disease?

Titles of Books: The Three Musketeers, Arabian Nights

  •  Gulliver’s Travels is my favorite book.

Descriptive Names of Countries: United States, Unites Arab Emirates

  •  The United States is a great country to live in.

Tip #4: Plural Nouns with Plural Verb

Thanks, Proceeds, Alms, Riches, Contents, Orders, Manners, Servings, Ashes, Archives, Rations, Customs and Requirements: Some nouns have a fixed plural form and take a plural verb.

a)    Savings are deposited in the bank.

b)    Statistics are collected from surveys. (Here ‘statistics’ is not a subject but collection of data)

Articles of Dress: Trousers, Breaches, Jeans.

a)    My trousers are too tight.

b)    Her jeans are blue.

Names of Instruments: Scissors, Spectacles, Shears, Scales.

a)    Those glasses are his.

b)    Scissors are made of metal.

Tip #5: Nouns with Numbers

Numerical + Noun: when a Compound Noun is made of numerical and acts as an Adjective, it is used as a Singular noun.

a)    It is a ten-mile race.

b)    Give me a five-rupee note.

Nouns expressing number: used in singular with numerical adjectives.

a)    Give me two dozens apples.

b)    I gave him two hundreds rupees.

Use of Fractions: With words that indicate portions—percent, fraction, part, majority, some, all, none, remainder—if the object of the preposition is singular, use a singular verb. If the object of the preposition is plural, use a plural verb.

a)    One-third of the city is unemployed.

b)    One-third of the people are unemployed.

Tip #6: Possessive Noun with Apostrophe and ‘S’

If the noun is plural, or already ends in‘s’, just add an apostrophe after the‘s’:.

a)    Which way is the Girls’ hostel?

b)    I have a complete collection of Kalidas’ works.

In Compound Noun, apostrophe with‘s’ should be added with last word only.

  •  She went to her mother’s-in-law’s place.

Apostrophe is not used with Pronouns but‘s’ is retained.

  •  We write ‘yours truly’ at end of letters.

Tip #7: Possessive Noun with and, Else

Two nouns in possessive case joined by ‘and’ denote plural:

  • Sumeet’s and Raghav’s mothers are coming to meet the teacher. (the mother of Sumeet and Raghav, two different persons.)

Two nouns joined by ‘and’ but only one is in possessive case, it denotes singular:

  •  Sumeet and Raghav’s mother is coming to meet the teacher. (the mother of two brothers Sumeet and Raghav, same person.)

‘Else’ takes the apostrophe with‘s’ when combined with Indefinite Pronouns:

a)    This is somebody else’s book.

b)    Whose else can it be?

[Note: Possessive case of “Who else” is “Whose else” and NOT “Who else’s”]

Tip #8: With Adjective and Preposition

Two adjectives with different meanings but both qualifying the same noun are considered plural and used with plural verbs:

a)    Social and political scenario are changing in the country.

b)    Summer and winter vacations are planned before the beginning of a new session.

If a noun is repeated after a preposition, the noun will be in singular form.

a)    We went door to doors looking for the boy.

b)    She took the notes of the lecture’s speech, word for word.

Tip #9: Making Plurals

Irregular Nouns make plurals without adding ‘s’ to it: woman-women, child-children, tooth-teeth, foot-feet, wife-wives, cactus-cacti, diagnosis-diagnoses, oasis-oases, thesis-theses, crisis-crises, phenomenon-phenomena, datum- data, criterion- criteria, life-lives, elf-elves, loaf-loaves, potato-potatoes, tomato- tomatoes, focus-foci, fungus- fungi, nucleus-nuclei, syllabus-syllabi/syllabuses, analysis- analyses.

a)    The king had four wives.

b)    She is his wife.

Some irregular nouns have the same form in the singular and the plural: Sheep-Sheep, Deer-Deer, Species-Species and Aircraft- Aircraft

a)    Ten aircraft are waiting on the tarmac.

b)    The aircraft is waiting for take-off.

Tip #10: Change in Meaning with Plural

Some Noun take different meaning when converted to plural adding‘s’:

a)    water: material; waters: sea

b)    Asset: quality; assets: property

c)    Wood: material; woods: property

d)    Custom: ritual; customs: tax

e)    Arm: organ; arms: weapon

f)     Cloth: material; clothes: dress

g)    Iron: material; irons: chains

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Spot the Errors:

Each of the following sentences will contain a mistake in the usage of Nouns. See if you can spot that mistake.


Coffee keep me awake at night. (Incorrect)

Coffee keeps me awake at night. (Correct)


The next Lake I want to visit is lake Michigan. (Incorrect)

The next lake I want to visit is Lake Michigan. (Correct)


There are a pack of hyenas outside. (Incorrect)

There is a pack of hyenas outside. (Correct)


Economics are the study of demand and supply in market structure. (Incorrect)

Economics is the study of demand and supply in market structure. (Correct)


The binoculars was very expensive. (Incorrect)

The binoculars were very expensive. (Correct)


Sheeps are grazing in the field. (Incorrect)

Sheep are grazing in the field. (Correct)


Alms is given as an act of charity. (Incorrect)

Alms are given as an act of charity. (Correct)


Measles are very common among children. (Incorrect)

Measles is very common among children. (Correct)


The poultry is mine. (Incorrect)

The poultry are mine. (Correct)


She lives with her two daughter-in-laws. (Incorrect)

She lives with her two daughters-in-law. (Correct)


The Japanese is a hard-working people. (Incorrect)

The Japanese are a hard-working people. (Correct)


There are many different people in Europe. (Incorrect)

There are many different peoples in Europe. (Correct)


Dot your i-s and cross your ts. (Incorrect)

Dot your i's and cross your t's. (Correct)


I brought somebody’s else book from the library by mistake. (Incorrect)

I brought somebody else’s book from the library by mistake. (Correct)


He studies in the Municipality Boys’s school. (Incorrect)

He studies in the Municipality Boys’ school. (Correct)


He has committed many mischiefs. (Incorrect)

He has committed much mischief. (Correct)


The summons have been served on him. (Incorrect)

The summons has been served on him. (Correct)


A five-kilometer races are arranged during annual sports events. (Incorrect)

A five-kilometer race is arranged during annual sports events. (Correct)


I cannot find my wallet but your’s is on the table. (Incorrect)

I cannot find my wallet but yours is on the table. (Correct)


Dev and Ruhi’s family are coming for the party. (Incorrect)

Dev and Ruhi’s family is coming for the party. (Correct)

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Nouns: What is a noun? Collective Nouns, Abstract Nouns, Common Nouns, Proper Nouns, Noun Meaning and Definition with Examples for Types of Nouns


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