The Grammar Guardian Presents: Nouns

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Note: All Images are courtesy of Quanta Ignis Photography

What is a noun?

Would you like the simple answer? Even before Mrs. Ramsey’s 5th grade class I could tell you that nouns represent a person, place, or thing. Consider the sentence:

Millie Black walked to the store to buy milk.

In this sentence Millie would be a person; the store would be a place and milk would be a thing.

However, there is so much more to know about nouns and the proper usage of nouns. Also, there is so much more to learn about Millie.

For example nouns can represent more than just people places, and things.

A noun could represent an animal.

Millie saw a dog on her walk.

A quality

The softness of the dog’s fur saddened her.

An idea

Stopping to pet the dog, she was overcome with guilt.

Or even an action

From now on walking down this street would remind Millie of this dog.

(wait, an action? Isn’t that called a verb? – This is a special kind of noun called a gerund. Lets save that discussion for a future Grammar Guardian. For now, its only important that it exists)

Types of Nouns

Common Vs. Proper

Nouns can be common or proper. A common noun refers to a general person, place, thing etc. A proper noun refers to a specific person, place, thing, etc. It usually, but not always, begins with a capital letter. In the above example Millie is a proper noun and dog is a common noun.

Concrete vs. Abstract

A concrete noun can be perceived by one of your five senses. We can see Millie; we can hear the dog barking. An abstract noun, on the other hand, cannot be perceived by a sense. It represents an idea or a quality. Injustice, for example, is an idea. You cannot hear, see, or smell injustice. Yet it exists.

Singular vs. Plural

This comparison is fairly easy. A singular noun refers to 1 of something, whereas a plural noun represents more than one.

Of all the dogs she could have run into on this street, why did it have to be this one?

In the above sentence the word dogs is plural and street is singular.

Possessive Nouns

A possessive noun shows ownership by adding an apostrophe, an s or both to the end of the noun. Read the next sentence and ask yourself, what belongs to Millie in this sentence?

Millie’s breath caught as her mind pictured the owner of this particular dog.

Compound Nouns

A compound noun is a single noun made up of two or more words. They can be made up of combinations of two nouns, nouns and adjectives, or nouns and verbs. Let’s learn some more about Millie and see if we can spot any compound nouns:

The dog belonged to Millie’s brother-in-law, Jake. Millie will never forget the night she spent with Jake under the full moon.

In this instance brother-in-law is a single noun made up of three separate words. Full moon is also a noun. It is made up of an adjective (full) and a noun (moon).

Collective Nouns

A collective noun is a single noun that represents a group of things: a school of fish for instance, or a herd of buffalo. Consider the following example:

That night had changed everything and torn her family apart, yet Millie would not change it if she could.

Notice in this sentence the word family is used to represent all of the people related to Millie. It is a singular noun that represents more than one person.

In conclusion, lets review.

Let’s take a look at the story thus far and see what we have learned about nouns and what we have learned about Millie. As you read, pay attention to how many nouns are in this one passage. Nouns are integral parts of any sentence. They come in many forms and shapes, yet they form the bones of the thought and the foundation upon which the action works.

The Story of Millie Black – Chapter 1

Millie Doe walked to the store to buy milk. Millie saw a dog on her walk. The softness of the dog’s fur saddened her. Stopping to pet the dog, she was overcome with guilt. From now on walking down this street would remind Millie of this dog. Of all the dogs she could have run into on this street, why did it have to be this one? Millie’s breath caught as her mind pictured the owner of this particular dog.

 The dog belonged to Millie’s brother-in-law, Jake. Millie will never forget the night she spent with Jake under the full moon. That night had changed everything and torn her family apart, yet Millie would not change it if she could.

Brandy

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