What Are Nouns?
- place: beach, park, house, building, Nebraska
- person: Paul, mother, president
- thing: couch, ball, apple, chair, castle
The challenge with this definition of a noun is that it fails to explain why words like coach, fool and need, can be both a noun and a verb. There are a few things to look for in deciding if the word is being used as a noun:
- By how it ends
- By where it is in the sentence
- By what its job or function is in the sentence
A few endings to a noun can help identify it as such. Some examples are listed below. There are certain word endings that show that a word is a noun, for example:
- -ity > personality
- -ment > recruitment
- -ness > happiness
- -ation > commendation
- -hood > neighborhood
There are exceptions to this rule. For example, handful is a noun ending in –ful, but the adjectives awful, careful and youthful all end in -ful as well.
Position in Sentence
Nouns in sentences usually precede determiners. Determines are words such as a, an, the, my, this, that, these, those, his, hers and yours. There are others as well. Determiners are articles, demonstratives, possessives and quantifiers. Just look for these to help indicate that the word is a noun. Here are a few examples:
- a band
- an exercise
- the butcher
- his book
- that car
- more expenses
Adjectives are usually before nouns. There can be one or more adjective before the noun. Here are a few examples:
- a loud band
- a lengthy exercise
- the old, happy, French butcher
- that engrossing book
- her old and small car
- such a ridiculous expenses
Function in a Sentence
How the word functions in a sentence will also show you if it is a noun, verb, adjective or another type of word.
- As the subject: Teenagers eat a lot.
- As the object: They hike mountains.
- subject and object: Mothers love their children.
As with many of the rules in the English language there are many exceptions. Keep this in mind when trying to determine if the word is a noun.