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  • Writer's pictureKat Taylor

Understanding nouns: Definitions and examples for clearer communication

Updated: Mar 5

A tanned male hand is dropping the last scrabble tile for the word noun

What is a noun?

A noun is a word that represents a person, place, thing, or idea. It is a fundamental part of grammar and is one of the eight parts of speech. Nouns are used to name or identify things, and they can be singular or plural.

Some examples of nouns are:

  • Person: Sarah, teacher, parent

  • Place: New York, beach, school

  • Thing: book, car, chair

  • Idea: love, freedom, friendship

Types of noun

Nouns can also be classified as common or proper. Common nouns are general names while proper nouns are specific names given to people, places, or things. For example, the word “city” is a common noun, while “Paris” is a proper noun.

Nouns can also function as subjects, objects, and possessives in a sentence. Subject nouns are the entity that performs an action in a sentence, object nouns are the entity that receives the action, and possessive nouns indicate ownership or possession.

Nouns may be singular or plural.

A singular noun refers to one person, animal, thing, place, or concept. Examples of singular nouns are "dog", "book", and "city". To make a singular noun possessive, add an apostrophe (') and "s" to the end of the word. For example, "the dog's bone", "the book's cover", and "the city's skyline".

A plural noun refers to more than one person, animal, thing, place, or concept. Examples of plural nouns are "dogs", "books", and "cities". To make a plural noun possessive, add an apostrophe (') after the "s" at the end of the word. For example, "the dogs' bones", "the books' covers", "the cities' skylines".

There are several rules for forming plural nouns in English. For most nouns, you can add an "s" at the end of the word to make it plural. For example, "book" becomes "books," "pen" becomes "pens," and "chair" becomes "chairs."

There are some exceptions to the "-s" rule, such as nouns that end in consonant -y, in which case the "y" is changed to an "i" before adding "-es" (e.g. "city" becomes "cities"). Some nouns have irregular plural forms, such as "child" becoming "children" and "tooth" becoming "teeth."

How to use nouns in your writing

Sentences can have one noun or more than one, and some have none, as shown in the examples below.

One noun:

  • The dog barked.

  • I ate an apple.

  • He is a teacher.

Two nouns:

  • The cat chased the mouse.

  • What is your favourite hobby or interest?

  • My sister loves chocolate.

More than two nouns:

  • The red car with the black tires and the blue rims drove by.

  • The students in the classroom listened to the teacher's lesson and took notes.

  • The park ranger patrolled the forest and checked the campsite for unattended fires.

No nouns:

  • Running wildly, she laughed and danced.

  • He ran fast.

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