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The Parts of Speech: Nouns, I

Defining Nouns
Types of Nouns
Tips for Identifying Nouns

Griffin Technical College

Learning Support Center
Written by Cynthia Baynham/adapted by Scott Victor
A noun is the name of a person, place,
thing, concept (idea), or quality.

Student Teacher Uncle Mother Gardener

Poet Musician Writer Sculptor Child


College Home Garden Library Mall Beach City Park Zoo


Apple Game Movie Book Test Homework Dinner

Bracelet Desk Poem Painting Song Thumb

These are Concrete Nouns because you can experience them with at least one
of your senses.
Abstract nouns are nouns that you cant see, touch, smell, hear or taste.
Both ideas (or concepts) and qualities are ABSTRACT nouns.

Ideas or Concepts Qualities

Freedom Love Honesty Stubbornness
Honor Feelings Friendliness Happiness
Wish Idea

Can you see freedom? Can you see an idea? While you can see the effects of
both freedom and love, you cannot actually experience either one with any of
your five senses. This is why they are called abstract nouns. To test to see if
they are nouns, place a possessive pronoun in front of each one.
Our freedom, His love, Your Honesty

Yes, they are nouns.

Common Versus Proper Nouns

Concrete nouns can be divided into two other categories:

Common vs. Proper.

Common nouns name a general person, place, or thing such as book or


Proper nouns name a specific person, place, or thing such as the

title of a book, Of Mice and Men or the name of a friend, Alison.

Notice that because proper nouns are the names of

specific people, places, or things, they are
Here are some more examples of common and proper
Common Proper
country Italy
president Thomas Jefferson
teacher Ms.
game Monopoly
museum High Museum
song Amazing Grace
lawyer Johnnie Cochran
newspaper The New York Times
uncle Uncle Ray
doctor Doctor Hall
Notice that because proper nouns name specific people, places, or
things, they are all CAPITALIZED.
Note that as common nouns neither president, doctor nor
uncle is capitalized.

For example, if I say:

I am going to my uncles house,
I am not naming a specific uncle, so uncle is not capitalized.

But if I say:
I am going to my Uncle Rays house,
I am naming a specific person, and uncle is his title, so uncle is capitalized.

The same thing happens to any other common noun that is used as a title in front of
a persons name: Doctor Hall, Father Tim, Mister Connery, President Washington,
and Aunt Joan.

So the rule to remember is that when a common noun is used in front of a

persons name as a title, you MUST capitalize it.
A common noun that is used as someones name
is also capitalized.

For example, If I say:

I am going to my mothers house.

The word mother is not capitalized because I am not using it as her name. I am using
the word to express a relationship not a name.

But if I say:

I am going to Mothers house.

The word Mother is capitalized because I am using it as her name. It is what I

am calling her.
We have looked at concrete and abstract nouns, as well as proper and
common nouns. Now it is time to look at another type of noun:

The Collective Noun

The collective noun is one collection of many parts.

We have one forest, but it is made of many trees.

We have one class, but it is made of many students.
We have one audience, but it is made of many people.
We have one team, but it is made of many players.
We have one troop, but it is made of many soldiers.

A collective noun names a group, a collection. While it is

made of many parts, it is ONE collection.
One last type of noun is know as the compound noun. Lets
look at these and see how they work.

The Compound Noun

A compound noun is made up of two or more nouns

put together to make a new word. These words can be
separated, hyphenated, or simple joined together.

1. The seventh grade students are new to middle school.

2. Mr. Victor hit a bulls-eye on his dart board.
3. Many people have seen the Golden Gate Bridge.
4. You probably want to avoid getting into a teachers doghouse.

So, the rule to remember is that when two nouns are

joined together, they form a new word with a new
meaning and are called compound nouns.
Forming Possessive Nouns

With the exception of a plural noun with an s on its end, all possessive nouns are
formed by adding an s.

There are two types of plural nouns, regular and irregular. A

regular noun is one which is made plural by adding an s or
an es. An irregular noun is made plural with either an
internal change (foot/feet) or the addition of another suffix
(child/children). Still other irregular nouns have the same
form whether they are singular or plural (fish/fish).
Chart of Possessive Nouns

Regular Nouns Irregular Nouns

boxs boxes foots feets
hats hats tooths teeths
toys toys oxs oxens
boats boats fishs fishs
childs childrens

Note: The apostrophe is not used if the noun is

simply plural, but shows no ownership.
1. The articles a, an, and the are noun indicators. That is, they indicate a
noun is coming, so to test if a word is a noun, place a the in front of the
word in question:

the air Yes! Air is a noun.

the empty No! Empty is not a noun.

2. Place a possessive pronoun in front of the noun( such as our, his, my)

Yes! idea is No! follow is not

my idea - our follow-
a noun. a noun.

Caution: Many English words can be more than one part of speech, so
make sure you leave the word in its sentence context when using this
You are now ready to identify nouns.
Practice identifying them and
identifying their functions in the
sentence by going to this link.

Noun Practice