Common nouns can be preceded by determiners: a, the, some, a few, my, ...
If a word is a common noun, then the following sentence makes sense
when the word is inserted:
My [insert noun]
For instance, house is a noun, so:
My house is
The word happy,
however, isn't a noun, so:
My happy is here,
does not make sense.
on Using the Tests
show whether a word could be a noun - sometimes. They do not indicate the
word is a noun in the given sentence. To do this, we need to apply the
test in that sentence. Consider this sentence:
The delicate and
Using our test [My [insert
My work is here.
makes sense. So the word work
can sometimes be a noun. (Sometimes it is a verb, of course).
To determine whether a word is a noun, we need to apply the test in the
sentence. In the sentence:
The delicate and
time-consuming work is important.
We note that 'work' is preceded by the determiner 'The', so it is a
In this sentence:
They work till they drop.
We cannot precede the word work with my:
My work till they
Therefore work isn't a noun in this sentence. (It is, of course, a
verb, in that sentence).
of Nouns and Non-Nouns
Here are some examples of applying the test on nouns and non-nouns:
My cat is here
My bread is here
My principal is here
My envelope is here
often have plurals; whereas other parts of speech do not. So if a word
has a plural, it is a noun. Uncountable Nouns, however, do not have
MP (Member of Parliament)
Nowadays, in Standard English, acronyms do not have periods. So M.P.
MP. Plurals are made by adding an s – MPs. If
periods are retained,
then apostrophe s is used – M.P.'s. The 's
plural is sometimes used when confusion might result – Dot the i's and crosss the t's,
1's and 2's (because 1s might look like Is, and 2's for consistency).
We can check whether a word is a noun, by asking whether it has a
possessive form. For instance:
the dog's dinner.
We indicate possession by adding the apostrophe (') s.
If Mary is the owner of the book we write – Mary's
book. When the word
for the owner ends in s anyway, we would normally add only an
apostrophe at the end of the word. So we write and say the boys' school.
However, especially with proper names, we add the apostrophe s when
sound requires it – Charles's book, Odysseus's
Quest. But ... if this
would mean we end up saying a sound like "iz-iz", we do not add the
final s. So if the owner of the book is Mr Bridges, we write and say Mr Bridges' book
(without an s after the apostrophe).
Notes: In older
English, Charles' book and Odysseus' Quest would have been correct,
although almost everyone would have said Charles's book,
although some might have tried to say Odysseus' Quest
(because it sounds more literary).
The apostrophe is not used with pronouns – its,
apostrophe is sometimes called a mark of elision to indicate some
letters have been omitted – it's going (it is
going), it'll go fine
(it will go fine).
and Concrete Nouns
are concrete and abstract nouns?
In grammar, it is often said:
nouns name something you can see or touch. They name people, objects,
animals and places. Abstract nouns name things you cannot see, touch,
etc. They name qualities, ideas, states of mind and events and actions.
The following nouns are abstract: walk, jump, intelligence and
embarrassment. However, a thoughtful reader might object and say:
I saw Mr Jones take a walk with her dog.
I saw the record-breaking jump
I can hear the intelligence
in her words. [Hear intelligence? ]
was obvious [clearly seen].
Actually, abstract nouns arenouns
that name things that we clearly cannot see or feel. For instance,
luck, freedom and justice are more or less intangible. With other
abstract nouns, we might be unsure. After careful thought, we might
wonder whether we can see 'a walk'. Or see a 'jump'. Can we really hear
'intelligence', and see 'embarrassment'. It seems we infer
'intelligence' and 'embarrassment' rather than perceive them directly
through the senses – we see a red face and infer
hear someone speaking logically and infer they are intelligent. And
while we can see someone or something jumping or walking,
when these become nouns – 'the jump' and 'the walk' – we have omitted
or abstracted the subject.
I saw the jump on the tv.
note there cannot be a 'real' jump without a jumper (subject), and the
jumper has been omitted or abstracted. So 'jump' is an abstract noun.
In writing 'the jump' we have made a verb into a noun and abstracted
the person, animal or thing that did 'the jumping' (jumping is also an
abstract noun). If the writer wished to avoid the abstract noun 'jump',
she would have written:
I saw the horse jump the
hurdle on the tv.
We can perceive a horse jumping, but we cannot perceive the jump
without the horse, so 'jump' is not sensory after all.
a similar way, when we make an adjective or an adverb a noun, we
abstract some important grammatical part, such as a subject and the
word becomes an abstract noun.
I can hear the intelligence in her
I heard her speaking intelligently [adverb].
was obvious [clearly seen].
I could see he was embarrassed.
of Concrete and Abstract Nouns
Concrete nouns are perceivable by the senses.
Tom, woman, man, doctor,
turnip, wind, bed, test-tube, chair,
basket, atom, DNA, cell, tree
puppy, lion, animal, germ, virus,
England, country, island, mountain, lake
nouns are not perceivable by the senses. For instance, we can see a
person is joyful, but we cannot perceive joy apart from someone being
joyful. The word joy is therefore an abstract noun.
The classes above are not exclusive. So a word, such as day could be an
action (series of actions) or event, or an idea.
nominalization is a noun which has been made from another part of
speech, such as a verb, adjective or adverb. They are abstract nouns.
summarizing Previous Ideas
The nominalizations are shown in bold.
By excluding details, you
produce an abstract idea. Therefore, an abstraction has
fewer details than the original.
He campaigned against
violent behaviour on the streets. He would not tolerate street violence.
They selected the
important books. This selection
naming the Verb's Subject or Object
can be used to replace a wordy subject or object. In the sentences
below, the subjects or objects are in italic, and the nominalizations
I was wondering about what they concluded.
I was wondering about their conclusions.
He inferred a number of
things about the new substance. What
he had inferred, however, was invalid.
He inferred a number of things about the new substance. However, his inferences were
A nominalization can be used to succinctly express
a common idea, when it becomes a short-hand way of referring to a
For the new year, I
resolved to do some new things.
I made some New Year
He believed that
individuals should be free to inspect what organizations held about
them on computer.
He believed in freedom
They objected to women
being allowed to ask doctors to abort their foetuses, for non-medical
The objected to abortion
and Specific Nouns
A general noun or expression can be concrete or abstract.
Even More Specific
cat, lion, tiger
table, chair, sofa,
meat, vegetables, fruit, fish,
beef, turnip, apple, cod
mathematics, English, science
calculus, grammar, chemistry
running, swimming, football, cricket
sprint, back-stroke, soccer, bowling or batting
bakery, grocers, supermarket
men, women, children
thinking, remembering, loving, hating
and Uncountable Nouns (Mass Nouns)
Most nouns have a plural and a singular form. For instance:
All such nouns are countable.
Other nouns are uncountable
in certain uses. For instance:
bread, art, luck,
greed, flour, data
We cannot use the determiner a
before uncountable nouns: we can, however, use the
In American English, data
is regarded as plural, but in English it is singular:
The data is
The data are
We can sometimes quantify such nouns using words like:
slice, piece, bits,
a slice of bread
some slices of bread
a piece of fish
some pieces of fish
an ounce of salt
several ounces of salt
a snippet of music
several snippets of music
a book on film
several books on film
Uncountable nouns are sometimes called mass nouns. We think of them as
a mass. For instance, fish
is uncountable when used to refer to food, but is countable when we
think of a number of individual fish, when its plural is fish or fishes. Similarly,
we can say:
I spent the weekend
When we think of watching several films. But when we think of the
subject, film, we do not use the plural. We might say:
I spent the weekend
studying film. (Reading books about film or films, watching films, etc).
Nouns (Group Nouns)
Collective nouns identify groups of things. Examples are:
audience, council, jury,
The group is considered as a unit.
The Union refuses to negotiate.
The jury is hung.
The staff has objected.
The team plays well.
The flock turned and flew away
The herd is about to stampede.
Collective nouns are normally singular, except when this seems
Considered as a unit.
Considered as a number of
are clapping their hands.
of birds is
Now, the flock
of birds are
competing for food.
is working together.
is going to the cinema.
are at loggerheads.
The audience is clappings
is obviously wrong.
In the following sentences, the quantity nouns take a plural verb:
A number of books are on the table. A few people
today. One half of
the animals are
trained. The couple over
In the following sentences, the quantity nouns take a singular verb:
The number of
small. The quantity
of sand is large. The weight
of the truck is
ten tons. The measure
of success is
Where the number
is definite, we use a singular verb:
The number of applicants has increased
But when it is indefinite, we use a plural form:
A number of people are coming.
In the following sentence, the author says a combination
instead of a
increased physical activity and suitable weight reducing diets are recommended for
overweight/obese adults who wish to lose weight.