While learning anything, never be afraid of committing mistakes. Commit as many mistakes as you like since every unsuccessful attempt teaches you a new lesson and eventually leads you to a great triumph.#AKWords The Noun: Types of Noun

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The Noun: Types of Noun

A noun, one of the parts of speech, appears to be one of the most widely used words in the language. It is perhaps the second most frequently used part of speech after the verbs. It refers to a person, place, thing, bird, insect, imagination, emotion, or else that physically exists or that does not have any physical existence but realized/perceived. Anshika, Alina, Kathmandu, radio, telephone, rose, snake, unicorn, anger, for examples, are all nouns. A noun functions as the name of not only the abovementioned but also of an action (rain), and quality (red).

Nouns other being adjectives, verbs, and adverbs belong to the major word class. Nouns can be understood on the basis of number, function, countability, reference, or characteristics. They functionally appear as one of the major elements in the composition of sentences. They have different many roles: they function as a subject, object of a verb, object of a preposition, and a complement of the subject or object.

            a) Students labour hard to secure a good position. (Noun as a subject)
            b) I bought books. (Noun as an object)
            c) Children participated in games. (Noun as an object of the preposition "in")
            d) My sister is a teacher. (Noun as a complement of the subject "My sister")
            e) We chose him our leader. (Noun as a complement of the object "him")

Types of Nouns

Nouns are categorized into countable nouns and uncountables nouns on the basis of countability. Countable nouns are also called count nouns whereas uncountable nouns are known as mass nouns. All nouns are broadly divided into two types  regular nouns and irregular nouns. Regular nouns are those which take either -s, -es or -ies to be in a plural form like books, matches or stories and irregular nouns are those that do not take any of -s, -es or -ies; instead, they remain the same in both forms (singular and plural); or a kind of change in spelling is made like sheep-sheep, deer-deer, woman-women, foot-feet, ox-oxen, etc.

Countable nouns are usually those which can be counted. These nouns can be either singular or plural in grammatical number.


 Singular  Plural
 book                              books                     
 wallet wallets 
 wife wives
 kiss kisses 
 key keys 
 baby babies 
 foot feet 
On the other hand, uncountable nouns, aka uncount nouns or mass nouns, are those which cannot be counted like one, two, three... and they refer to a general kind of thing rather than to an individual item, and thus have only one form - singular.

water        hair,        rice,        air,        paper,        iron,        diamond,
money,        furniture,        intelligence,        education,        love, etc.


In English grammar, there are two numbers which denote a kind of difference between singular forms and plural forms of nouns, pronouns, determiners and verbs. The singular number generally gives the sense of "one" whereas the plural number brings the concept of "more than one".

There are different rules to form a plural number from a singular one. A singular number of nouns is without any change in its form whereas a plural number is formed by an inflectional change, that is, by adding a suffix. Let us observe how a singular noun is changed into a plural noun.

# The spelling of nouns which is ending in either -s, -ss, -sh, -ch, -o, -x, or -z is changed into a plural number by adding a suffix -es.
 Singular Plural
bus                                 buses                            
kiss kisses
bench benches
potato potatoes
affix affixes
dish dishes
fez fezzes

# If nouns end in other than the mentioned above -s, -ss, -ch, -o, -x, or -z, they take a suffix -s to go into a plural form. Nouns that have -k, -g, -ng, -t, -d, -n, -p, -b, -m, or -r take a suffix -s.
 Singular  Plural
book                                 books                        
bat bats
dog dogs
ring rings
pad pads
can cans
camp camps
boar boars
coat coats

# Nouns that end in -y following any consonant sound, a suffix -es is added after changing -y into -i but if -y follows any vowel letter, only -s is added after -y.
 Singular Plural                        
 baby                               babies                       
 city cities 
 country countries 
 boy boys 
 donkey donkeys 

Although we often look at the spelling of words to form their plural, a better way to change a singular form into a plural one is to consider their sounds (pronunciation) for this purpose. Because of considering spelling only, sometimes we may get confused or commit a mistake while picking up -s, or -es for the plural forms. For instance, in accordance with one of the rules of forming plural, words ending with -y being preceded by a vowel letter take -s only to be into plural. According to this, "soliloquy" should be "soliloquys" which is wrong because when this word is pronounced, it ends with a vowel sound /i/ preceded by a consonant sound /w/. Therefore, the plural of "soliloquy" is "soliloquies".

The pronunciation of plural suffixes -s, -es or -ies varies based on a preceding sound. The plural suffixes -s is pronounced as either /s/ or /z/, and -es/-ies is pronounced as /iz/. If the words have voiceless sounds /k/, /p/, /t/, /f/. /ɵ/, /s/, /ʧ/, /ʃ/ and /h/ in their final positions, then the plural marker suffix -s is pronounced as /s/, and it is pronounced as /z/ after voiced sounds. Likewise, plural morpheme -es/-ies is pronounced as /iz/ after sibilant /s/, /z/, /ʃ/, /ʒ/, /ʧ/, and /ʤ/. Examples are benches, kisses, bushes, judges, etc. Any words either nouns or pronouns that end in either of the sibilants sounds are pronounced with /iz/ after being attached with a plural suffix -es/-ies.

# If nouns end in -f or -fe, the plural is formed by changing -f or -fe into -ves.
 Singular Plural 
 calf                                  calves                            
 thief thieves 
 leaf leaves 
 elf elves 
 knife knives 
 wife waives 

But nouns dwarf, hoof, scarf and wharf take either -s or -ves like dwarfs/dwarves, hoofs/hooves, scarfs/scarves, wharfs/wharves. Similarly, some nouns like belief, handkerchief, gulf, proof, etc. take only -s and become beliefs, handkerchiefs, gulfs and proofs in plural forms.

# Although nouns ending in -o being preceded by a consonant letter take -es for their plural forms, all words ending in -oo, -io, -eo or -yo and some words ending even in -o being preceded by a consonant letter take -s, but not -es.
 Singular Plural 
 mango                             mangos                          
 cuckoo cuckoos
 stereo stereos
 memento mementos/momentoes
ratio ratios
 embryo embryos

# There are irregular nouns that do not have any change in their forms even in plural forms, their inside vowel is changed or -en is added to them.
 Singular Plural 
 sheep                               sheep                              
 deer deer
 fish fish/fishes
 furniture furniture
 louse lice
 tooth teeth
 goose geese
 ox oxen

# We generally add -s to the head/principal word in compound nouns to form the plural.
 Singular Plural                             
 steep-daughter                 step-daughters 
 step-mother step-mothers 
 father-in-law fathers-in-law 
 mother-in-law mothers-in-law
 son-in-law sons-in-law 
 passer-by passers-by 
 maid-servant maid-servants 
 foot-man foot-men 
 governor-general governors-general 
 court-martial courts-martial 
 looker-on lookers-on 

But if the headword of compound nouns is a verb, the plural suffix -s must be attached to the last part of the entire words like hand-out:hand-outs, look-out:look-outs, check-out:check-outs, grown-up:grown-ups, and so on.

# There are nouns which have their origin in other languages like Latin, Greek, French. These nouns are in the plural form as they are in their original languages.
 Singular (Latin origin) Plural 
datum                                data                                 
 species species
 Singular (Greek origin) Plural 
parenthesis                        parentheses
 crisis crises

Some nouns are always used in plural only. These are, for example, trousers, shirts, binoculars, spectacles, scissors, pincers, tongs, jeans, shorts, thanks, congratulations, nuptials, assets, alms, and the like.

# Plural of letters and numbers are not formed by simply adding -s. Instead, their plural is formed by adding -'s like ten A's, five P's, three 2's.

There are two m's in grammar.
We have ten 1's to write from 11 to 20.

# Some nouns look like a plural but they are singular. They are physics, linguistics, news, mathematics/maths, electronics, rickets, measles, draughts, and so on.

Nouns are categorised in other different types. On the basis of reference, they are of five different types. They are proper nouns, common nouns, collective nouns, material nouns, and abstract nouns.

Proper Noun

A proper noun is a special/particular name of a person, place, or thing. It is a very special name of an entity. Its first letter is always written in a capital letter, no matter in which position it occurs. It denotes a particular entity.

            Examples:   Monica        Chicago
                                 Mars            Mt. Everest
                                 Maths          Toyota

Normally proper nouns are not changed into plural forms. They are always singular.

            Examples:   Donald         Donalds
                                 France         Frances
                                 Nile             Niles

However, in some cases, they can be used into plural form when there is more than one of the same proper noun. If there are two or more people of the same name, for instance, then that very noun can be used into the plural form like "There are four Monicas in our classroom." This sentence means there are four people whose names are the same "Monica". The same is the case with numbers as 9's, 15's, and the like.

Proper nouns usually do not take any article before them since they are special and particular ones. When nothing is clear about an entity except for its name, an indefinite article is used as "I met an Angelina yesterday." It means except for the name of the girl, the speaker knows nothing. Not only an indefinite article is used, but a definite article the can also be used.

            A:    In Eden Garden, I talked to Tendulkar.
            B:    What?! Tendulkar?!
            A:    Not the Tendulkar.

In the above conversation, definite article the has been used to differentiate the name of an ordinary person and the well-know person. Note the pronunciation of the is /ði:/.

Common Noun

A noun that represents its whole class or kind to which it belongs is a common noun like girl, teacher, country, bird, book, and so on. These nouns talk about all those that share the same class. Girl means any girl of anywhere like Martha, Archana, Sania, etc. Animal which is again a common noun refers to tiger, lion, rhinoceros, elephant, deer, and the like.

Common nouns never commence with a capital letter except in the initial position of the sentence. They have two grammatical numbers - singular and plural. These nouns can easily be changed from singular to plural and vice versa.

            Examples:    Girl    ↔    Girls
                                 Bench  ↔  Benches
                                 Bus        Buses
                                 Baby        Babies
                                 Mango        Mangos

Sometimes a proper noun also becomes a common noun when it is used to describe a person or thing, and then it is preceded by an article "the".

            Kalidas is often called the Shakespeare of India.
            He is the Laden of the world of terrorism.

Sometimes nouns that seem to be common nouns can also be proper nouns and they always begin with a capital letter. Lily, cobra, red, for instance, are of course the names of a specific flower, reptile, and colour. In this sense, they - Lily, Cobra, and Red - all are proper nouns. To be much clear about the distinction between proper nouns and common nouns, let us cast light on hypernymy and hyponymy. It is because the relationship between hypernym and hyponym will make the concept of and distinction between proper nouns and common nouns clear. A hypernym is a broad or umbrella term like flower that covers other semantically related words, i,e, hyponyms which are more specialized ones as rose, marigold, lily. Similarly, rose can also be a hypernym and its different types like red rose, pink rose, yellow rose, white rose are hyponyms. This relationship helps to make the concept clear to differentiate proper nouns and common nouns from each other. In this sense, Rose can also be treated as a proper noun and can begin with a capital letter.

Collective Noun

A collective noun is a name assigned to a number, group or collection of persons or things considered as one complete whole instead of understanding them separately. Crowd, team, government, army, etc.

            Examples:    Crowd    =    a group of people
                                 Swarm    =    a group of bees
                                 Shoel    =    a group of fish
                                 Army    =    a group of soldiers
                                 Pack    =    a group of wolves
                                 Flock    =    a group of birds/sheep
                                 Gang    =    a group of criminals
                                 Staff    =    a group of employees
                                 Crew    =     a group of sailors
                                 Board    =    a group of directors
                                 Troupe    =     a group of monkeys
                                 Stack    =     a collection of books
                                 Fleet    =    a group of ships
                                 Class    =    a collection of students

Collective nouns are a kind of common noun as well. These can be made plural and can stand for many different groups. Whereas class denotes a group of students, classes mean many groups of students.

Sometimes many of us get confused with a collective noun and a noun of multitude. Both are different from each other. A collective noun means one undivided whole, and thus usually gets a singular verb.
                Example:    A crowd of people is out of control.

A noun of multitude denotes the individuals of the group, and hence the verb that comes with it is a plural one although the noun is singular.

                Example:    The government have denied passing the bill of capital punishment.

Material Noun

A noun which denotes material or substance of which something is made is called a material noun. It includes solid, liquid, and gas. The substance (e.g. wood) itself is a material noun and the thing (e.g. chair) that is made from it is a common noun. Material nouns are not normally changed into plural; they are considered singular.

                Examples:    iron    plastic    blood
                                     water    milk    oxygen
                                     air    hydrogen

Abstract noun

A noun which is used to describe a quality, action (theft, movement, laughter, etc.), state, idea, art and science (grammar, music), or experience rather than something physical or concrete is an abstract noun. These nouns are not changed in the plural.

                Examples:    hatred,    sadness,
                                    goodness,    honesty,
                                    love,    hatred,    sleep,
                                   childhood,    sickness, etc.

Except for this last type of noun, all four types are connected with something that physically exists and can be perceived through the sense organs. They can be seen, heard, touched, felt and tasted, but an abstract noun cannot be perceived physically; rather it is realized only.

Abstract nouns which have never any physical existence; thus not touched or seen, can be formed from either adjectives, common nouns or verbs.

  • Abstract Nouns formed from Adjectives:

 Adjectives                         Abstract Nouns
 smart smartness
 good goodness
 deep depth
 long length
 wise wisdom
 humble humility
 false falsehood
 prudent prudence
 hot heat
 broad breadth
 intelligent intelligence
 true truth
 poor poverty

  • Abstract Nouns formed from Common Nouns:

Common Nouns               Abstract Nouns
 boy boyhood
 thief theft
 rogue roguery
 mother motherhood
 man manhood
 captain captaincy
 king kingship
 slave slavery
 child childhood
 infant infancy
 friend friendship
 owner ownership

  • Abstract Nouns formed from Verbs:

 Verbs                                 Abstract Nouns
 free freedom
 see sight
 die death
 born birth
 live life
 laugh laughter
 unite union/unity
 arrive arrival
 hate hatred
 please pleasure
 warm warmth
 choose choice
 serve service

  • Abstract Nouns same as Verb forms:

 Verbs                                  Abstract Nouns
 ride ride
 rise rise
stay stay
 move move
 walk walk
 love love
 cry cry
 order order
 step step
 fall fall
 taste taste
 desire desire
 fear fear

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