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Introduction

1.1 History
Word classes (parts of speech) were described by Sanskrit grammarians from at
least the 5th century BC. In Yska's Nirukta, the noun (nma) is one of the four
main categories of words defined.
The Ancient Greek equivalent was noma (), referred to by Plato in the
Cratylus dialog, and later listed as one of the eight parts of speech in The Art of
Grammar, attributed to Dionysius Thrax (2nd century BC). The term used in
Latin grammar was nmen. All of these terms for "noun" were also words
meaning "name". The English word noun is derived from the Latin term, through
the Anglo-Norman noun.
The word classes were defined partly by the grammatical forms that they take. In
Sanskrit, Greek and Latin, for example, nouns are categorized by gender and
inflected for case and number. Because adjectives share these three grammatical
categories, adjectives were originally placed in the same class as nouns. For
example, in The Art of Grammar, words of adjectival type are largely contained
in the subclass of noma described as paraggn (plural paragg), meaning
"derived". Similarly, the Latin nmen included both nouns (substantives) and
adjectives, as originally did the English word noun, the two types being
distinguished as nouns substantive and nouns adjective. (The word nominal is
now sometimes used to denote a class that includes both nouns and adjectives.)
Many European languages use a cognate of the word substantive as the basic
term for noun (for example, Spanish sustantivo, "noun"). Nouns in the
dictionaries of such languages are demarked by the abbreviation s. or sb. instead
of n, which may be used for proper nouns instead. In English, some modern
authors use the word substantive to refer to a class that includes both nouns
(single words) and noun phrases (multiword units, also called noun equivalents).
It can also be used as a counterpart to attributive when distinguishing between a
noun being used as the head (main word) of a noun phrase and a noun being used
as a noun adjunct. For example, the noun knee can be said to be used
substantively in my knee hurts, but attributively in the patient needed knee
replacement.

A noun is a word that functions as the name of some specific thing or set of
things, such as living creatures, objects, places, actions, qualities, states of

existence, or ideas. Linguistically, a noun is a member of a large, open part of


speech whose members can occur as the main word in the subject of a clause, the
object of a verb, or the object of a preposition.
Also noun is a kind of word that is usually the name of something such as a
person, place, thing, quality, or idea. In English, nouns can be singular or plural.
Nouns often need a word called an article or determiner (like the or that). These
words usually do not go with other kinds of words like verbs or adverbs. (For
example, people do not say "I will the go to school" because go is a verb.)
Adjectives can also describe nouns. In English, there are more nouns than any
other kind of word.
Every language in the world has nouns, but they are not always used in the same
ways. They also can have different properties in different languages. For
example, in some other languages, nouns do not change for singular and plural,
and sometimes there is no word for the.
Lexical categories (parts of speech) are defined in terms of the ways in which
their members combine with other kinds of expressions. The syntactic rules for
nouns differ from language to language. In English, nouns are those words which
can occur with articles and attributive adjectives and can function as the head of
a noun phrase.

Chapter 1. Noun In English Language


A noun can be defined as a word used to name a person, place, or thing. By a
thing here, it means that it comprises something which can be perceived by human
senses, or that which cannot be perceived but can be thought of.
The system of English nouns, for most of the Indonesian-learners of English, is
complicated. According to their kinds, logically English nouns can be classified into
2 kinds, i.e. (1) proper, and (2) common nouns which are divided into (a) abstract,
(b) individual, and (c) collective nouns. Based on their grammatical distinction,
these common nouns can be made into (1) countable and (2) uncountable nouns. In
other words, countable nouns belong to individual and collective nouns, and most
uncountable nouns belong to abstract and individual nouns. When they are
categorized according to their number, these countable nouns can be divided into (1)
singular and (2) plural nouns; when they are categorized according to their gender,
they can be divided into (1) masculine, (2) feminine, (3) common, and (4) neuter
gender. Noun classification according to the case will be discussed after the topic on
the concord between subjects and their verbs is given. For clarification, this system
can be diagrammatically drawn as the following.
NOUNS
Classified according to

kinds
proper
2) common

1) countable

1) singular

1) masculine 1) nominal

2) plural

2) feminine

2) accusative

3) common

3) genitive

4) neuter
a) abstract

b) individual

c) collective

A. Kinds
According to their kinds, nouns can be classified into proper and common
nouns.
1. A proper noun is, referring to Maurer (2000:105), a name of a particular, individual
person, place, or thing who/which is usually unique. It is written is a capital letter.
2. A common noun is, according to Wren and Martin (1990:5), a name given in
common to every person or thing of the same class or kind. Different from proper
nouns, this sort of nouns is not written in a capital letter. The following chart shows
how these two categories work in practice.
proper nouns

common nouns

Karen

girl

Daniel

boy

Yogyakarta

city

Indonesia

country

Sarjana Wiyata

university

When classified into their particular details, common nouns can be divided
into 3 classes, i.e. abstract, individual, and collective nouns.
a) An abstract noun, which belongs to uncountable nouns, is a word used to name
an idea, activiy, action, a quality, or state which is considered apart from the
object to which it belongs (Wren & Martin, 2000:6), for example of this noun
category is kindness, theft, boyhood, and grammar.
b) An individual noun, which belongs to countable nouns, is a word that represents
a typical member of a group and may include most f the concrete nouns, i.e.
words which can be perceived by human senses. This caegory can be
exemplified by these words: student, lawyer, flower, and plant.
c) A collective noun names a group, number, or collection of persons, objects, or things
taken together and spoken f as one whole (Whren & Martin, 2000:5), for example,
fleet, police, and crowd. Noticed how they are used in the followings.

1) A fleet may mean a number of warships or vessels, under one commander.


For example, Admiral Sudomo led the Indonesian combat fleet to attack the
Dutch fleet.

2) Police is men and women belonging to a departememnt of goverment


concerned with the keeping f public order: Several hundred police were on
duty at the demonstration (Hornby, 1974:644).
3) A crowd means a large number of people together, but without order or
organization : He pushes his way through the crowd (Hornby, 1974:206).
B. Grammatical Distinction and Number
When the classification is made on the basis of their grammatical distinction, as
stated above, common nouns may be grouped into 2. They are (1) countable nouns
which are made up from individual and collective nouns and (2) uncountable nouns
which are mostly made up from abstract nouns. According to their number, these
countable nouns can be made into (1) singular and (2) plural nouns. Although the note
on countable and uncountable nouns in this section is trustworthy, it is not always easy
to distinguish countable from uncountable nouns. Swan (1983:164) states that

It is not always obvious whether a word is countable and uncountable; if you


are not sure, check in the Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of Current
English (nouns are marked C or U). Sometimes words can be uncountable
with one meaning and countable with another, ...
1. A countable noun refers to nouns denoting persons or things that can be counted.
Therefore, it is only the nouns in this category which can be made into the plural
form. In their singular form, they are preceded by the indefinite article a/an.
The plural form of the singular countable nouns are normally made by adding
s, as a book books, a pen pens, and a cow cows. However, nouns ending in

s, sh, ch, or x, and o, form their plural by adding es to their singular form,
like a kiss kisses, a match matches, a tax taxes, and a mango mangoes,
a dynamo dynamos

a solo

solos

a canto

cantos

a memento mementos

a piano

pianos

a photo

a quarto quartos

photos

But all nouns ending in -o preceded by a vowel take only the s form, e.g.
a cuckoo cuckoos

a curio curios

a bamboo bamboos

a radio radios

a portfolio portfolios

a ratio ratios

except the followings:

a stereo stereos

Nouns ending in y, preceded by a consonant, form their plural by changing y into


ies, as an army armies, or a story stories, but when the y ending is preceded
by a vowel, the plural form simply takes s, e.g. a valley valleys, a donkey
donkeys, a boy boys, or a key keys.
Many nouns ending in f or fe form their plural by changing f or fe into
ves, as a thief thieves, or a calf calves, except:
a chief chiefs

a dwarf dwarfs

a proof proofs

a roof roots

a safe safes

a leaf leaves

a gulf gulfs

a serf serfs

a belief beliefs

a grief griefs

a brief briefs

But there are words in the category above which have both plural forms.
a scarf scarfs or scarves

a staff staffs or staves

a wharf wharfs or wharves

a hoof hoofs or hooves

A few nouns form their plural in an irregular away.


a louse lice

an ox oxen

a woman women a tooth teeth

a mouse mice

a child children

a datum data

a nucleus nuclei

a man

men

a goose geese
a foot feet

Some nouns have the similar singular and plural forms: swine, sheep, deer, fish
(but also fishes) cod, trout, salmon, pair, dozen, score, gross, hundred, and thousand
(when used after numerals). Some are used only in plural:
a) Names of instruments having two parts forming a kind of pair: bellows, scissors,
tongs, pincers, and spectacles.
b) Names of certain articles of dress: trousers, drawers, and breeches.
c) Certain names of games: billiards, draughts, cards, and dominoes.
d) A compound noun normally forms its plural by adding s to the principal word, as

a commander-in-chief

commanders-in-chief

a coat-of-mail

coats-of-mail

a son-in-law

sons-in-law

a daughter-in-law
a step-son
a step-daughter
a maid-servant
a passer-by
a looker-on
a man-of-war

daughters-in-law

step-sons

step-daughters
maid-servants

passers-by

lookers-on

men-of-war

But in the following both elements are made plural.


a man-servant

men-servants

a woman-servant

women-servants

a gentleman-farmer

gentlemen-farmers

a man-student/doctor
a lord-justice
a Knight-Templar

men-students/doctors
lords-justices

Knights-Templars

Notice that the plural forms of a spoonful, a handful, and a mouthful are spoonfuls,
handfuls, and mouthfuls because each of these words is regarded as one word.
e) There are nouns which have two forms for the plural, each with somewhat
different meaning, some of the are
singular

Plural
cloth kinds or pieces of cloth

cloth

clothes garment
die

fish

dies

stamps for coining

dice

small cubes used in games

fishes

taken separately

fish

collectively

geniuses persons of great talent

genius

genii

spirit

f) Conversely, there are nouns which have two meaning in the singular but only
one meaning in the plural. Some of them are
singular
light radiance

plural
lights

lamps

a lamp
people

nation

peoples nations

men and women


powder a dose of medicine in fine

powders doses of medicine

grains like dust


practice habit
exercise of a profession

practice s habits

g) Some nouns have a different meaning in the singular and plural forms.
singular form

plural form

advice

counsel

information

air

atmosphere

affected manners

good

benefit, well-being

merchandise

compass

extent, range

an instrument for drawing circles

respect

regard

compliments

physic

medicine

natural science

iron

a kind of metal

fetters

force

strength

troops

2. An uncountable noun or a non-count or mass noun, as Maurer (2000:106) asserts,


names things that cannot be counted in their normal sense because they exist in a
mass form whereas Eckersley and Eckersley (1973:20) affirm that this noun
stands for substances that cannot be counted but can only be measured.
Therefore, they cannot be made into the plural form, and in their normal meaning,
they cannot be preceded by the indefinite article a/an. The nouns of the like
normally take a singular verb. The following nouns are usually uncountable

accommodation, behaviour, bread, chaos, furniture, luggage, scenery, traffic, travel,


and weather. An uncountable noun is frequently made into countable by adding such
phrases as a piece of, a cup of, a grain of, a game of, a bolt of, a flash of, a clap of,
or five kilos of.
It should be noted that there are uncountable nouns which take the plural form
but with a singular meaning, and therefore they always take a singular verb. These
words are only a few examples: news, mathematics, economics, physics, linguistics,
measles, and mumps.
Maurer (2000:107) and Murphy (1987:138) advise that there are words which
can be used in either a countable or uncountable sense. Compare the followings.
a) I bought a paper. (a newspaper)
Each student is asked to submit a paper on grammar. (an essay, esp. one
to read to a learned society)
I need a sheet of paper. (material for writing on)
b) There is a hair in the soup. (one single hair)
She has beautiful hair. (hair on the head)

c) We had many interesting experiences during our holiday. (things


that happened to us)
You need experience for this job. (knowledge of something because you
have done it before)
d) I ate meat for dinner.
Different meats are available at the supermarket. (types f meat)
e) We need to take water along on the camping trip.
There are carbonated and uncarbonated mineral waters. (brands f
mineral water)
f) TV is both good and bad.
Yesterday we bought a TV. (informal for a television set)
g) I drink coffee every morning.
Please bring us three coffees. (informal for three cups of coffee)
h) France produces wine.
Cabernet Sauvignon is a wine produced in France. (a brand of wine)
i) It takes work to prepare an elegant meal. (use of bodily or mental powers
with the purpose of doing or making something)
Your meal is a work of art. (a product of the intellect or the imagination)

C. Gender
Although Eckersley and Eckersley (1973:41) state that the concept of gender has no
grammatical function in modern English, it is this phenomenon that the appreciation of the
grouping of English nouns into their gender categories will broaden ones horizon. Wren and
Martin (1990:78) introduce four technical terms to classify these nouns, namely, masculine,
feminine, common, and neuter gender. These categories will form the basis to classify whether
a certain noun may be replaced by the pronouns he, she, or it. In practical English, animals
are normally referred to by it but when their sex is privileged, they may be spoken of as he
or she.
As it happens, these four classifications are entirely based upon a matter of sex or the
absence of sex. All nouns that designate males are classified as masculine gender, those
designating females are classified as feminine gender, those designating either males or females
are classified as common gender, and those designating neither males nor females are classified
as neuter gender. The example of these categories is seen in the following table.
masculine

feminine

boy

girl

son

common

neuter
book

daughter

} child/person

father

mother

parent

house

king

queen

sovereign/monarch/ruler

table

man

woman

person

lake

schoolmaster

schoolmistress

principal/head teacher

train, etc

kingdom

It should be noted that collective nouns, even when they denote living beings, and
young children like infants or babies and the lower animals like worms are referred to as the
neuter gender. The masculine gender is often employed for such objects which are remarkable
for strength and violence as the sun, summer, winter, time, and death whereas the feminine
gender is often applied to those remarkable for beauty, gentleness, and gracefulness as the
moon, the earth, spring, autumn, nature, liberty, justice, mercy, peace, hope, and, charity (Wren
& Martin, 1990:8). They further assert that there are certain nouns which are personified. A
ship and a country are spoken of as she.
There are four ways by which the masculine gender is distinguished from the feminine
one.

1. By using entirely different words


masculine

feminine

masculine

feminine

bachelor

maid/spinster

boar

sow

boy

girl

buck

doe

bridegroom

bride

bullock

heifer

brother

sister

colt

filly

earl

countess

drake

duck

monk

nun

drone

bee

widower

widow

gander

goose

wizard

witch

stallion

mare

2. By simply adding ess from the masculine to form the feminine (as in the first two columns
of the table below), and sometimes with some slight changes (as in the last two columns of
the table below).
masculine

feminine

masculine

feminine

author

authoress

abbot

abbes

baron

baroness

actor

actress

count

countess

benefactor

benefactress

heir

heiress

duke

duchess

lion

lioness

enchanter

enchantress

mayor

mayoress

marquis

marchioness

steward

stewardess

negro

negress

viscount

viscountess

seamster

seamstress

3. When words of common gender are made use of to distinguish the masculine from the
feminine, it simply forms these words into compound words by adding words which denote
the sex.
masculine

feminine

masculine

feminine

boy cousin

girl cousin

great uncle

great aunt

bull-calf

cow-calf

he-bear

she-bear

cock sparrow

hen sparrow

he-goat

she-goat

grandfather

grandmother

billy-goat

nanny-goat

manservant

maidservant

jack-ass

jenny-ass

tomcat

tabby cat

man friend

woman friend

4. English may also have adapted a number of foreign endings as ine, trix, or a to
show the sex distinction.
masculine

feminine

masculine

feminine

administrator

administratix

hero

heroine

beau

belle

signor

signora

czar (tsar)

czarina (tsarina)

sultan

sultana

executor

executrix

testator

testatrix