To have a better understanding of a noun you must also know the kinds of nouns and what they are. This is simply because knowing the definition of a noun is not alone sufficient to help you identify a noun when you are learning the English language. A noun has a very important role to play in English language as a sentence needs a noun. As we all know, in the most initial stage, a sentence is a combination of a subject and a verb. The subject of a sentence is usually a noun. So, let us first see the definition of a noun and then go on to discuss about the kinds of nouns in the English language.
Definition of noun
In the simplest way, one can define the noun as the word that we use as a name to identify a person, place or a thing. For example, consider the following words.
Roy, dog, pen, New York
Roy is the name of a person. Dog is the name of an animal species. Pen is the name of a thing. New York is the name of a city, so, it is a name of a place. As you can see, all four of these words are used as names to identify each of these things and, therefore, these are nouns.
Kinds of Nouns
There are mainly two kinds of nouns. They are Common Nouns and Proper Nouns. Then, Collective Nouns and Abstract Nouns come under common nouns. Let us see what each noun kind is all about.
A common noun is the name that we give to every person or everything in the same group, kind, or class. Look at the following examples.
King Asoka was a famous Indian king.
Louis XIV of France was a king of France.
As you can see in the above examples, we are talking about two different people. Yet the title they share has the same name, King. That is because it is the name given to the male monarchs of any country. In the same way, queen is a common noun. That is because all the female monarchs of the world belong to the same group of people. So, they are given a common name. Some other examples for common nouns are girl, boy, town, country, dog, fruit, etc. As you can see each of these words are used for people or things that belong to the same class. It is a common name of all in that group.
While common nouns give a common name to all in a group, proper nouns give a name to a particular person or thing in that group. For example,
Our dog Rover is very dangerous to strangers.
Here, the word dog is a common noun as it is the name of a group of animals. Then, the word Rover is the name that differentiates this particular dog from the rest of its group. Therefore, it is a proper noun. So, Jane, Sydney, America are some other examples for proper nouns. The specialty of proper nouns is that you have to use a capital letter to begin a proper noun. That makes it easier to spot a proper noun.
Collective noun is a kind of a common noun. What a collective noun does is taking a number of different people or things together and speaking of them as if they were one. That is to say a collective noun as the name implies talk about a collection of individuals or things as a whole. Examples for collective nouns are crowd, mob, team, parliament, herd, fleet, etc. When using collective nouns you have to make sure that you use a singular verb. This is because though we are talking about a number of things we have taken them as one when we use a collective noun. Look at the following sentences.
The parliament (a number of ministers) gathers on the 20th.
The herd (a number of animals) of cattle is crossing the river.
Abstract nouns are another category of nouns that comes under common nouns. An abstract noun is a name of an action, quality or state that is drawn off of the object to which it actually belongs to. For example, beauty, sadness, happiness are abstract nouns as we can use them alone in this form without using them with a person or a thing that has these qualities or states.
Beauty without brains is useless.
In this example, the word beauty is an abstract noun.
Noun is the name we give to a person, thing, or a place. There are mainly two kinds of nouns as Common Nouns and Proper Nouns. Commons Nouns also include Abstract Nouns and Collective Nouns. A common noun is the name that we give to every person or everything in the same group, kind, or class. Proper nouns give a name to a particular person or thing in that group. Collective nouns take a number of different people or things together and speak of them as if they were one. An abstract noun is a name of an action, quality or state that is drawn off of the object to which it actually belongs to.
- Girl by Big Ben (CC BY-SA 2.0)
- Boy by (CC BY 2.0)
- Louis XIV via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
- American Eskimo Dog by Craig Pemberton (CC BY-SA 3.0)
- Fruit by Rezowan (CC BY-SA 3.0)
- An odd-eyed Turkish Van kitten by Alecxo (CC BY 2.5)
- cattle herd via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
- Session Hall of Parliament of Finland by Hteink.min (CC BY-SA 3.0)
- Crowd by Al Jazeera English (CC BY-SA 2.0)