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Types of Noun
The Nine Types of NounNouns are everywhere! They are extremely common because they are the words we use to name people, places, and things. Every single noun fits into at least one of nine noun types.
Table of Contents
- Common Nouns and Proper Nouns
- The Nine Types of Common Noun
- More Detail about the Types of Noun
- (1) Abstract Nouns
- (2) Concrete Nouns
- (3) Collective Nouns
- (4) Compound Nouns
- (5) Gender-Specific Nouns
- (6) Gerunds
- (7) Non-Countable Nouns (Mass Nouns)
- (8) Countable Nouns
- (9) Verbal Nouns
- Noun Phrases and Noun Clauses
- Video Lesson
- Printable Test
Common Nouns and Proper NounsA common noun is the word used for something. In other words, it is the word that appears in a dictionary. For example:
- car, man, bridge, town, water, metal, ammonia
- Michael, Africa, Peking, The Tower of London, Uncle George, The Red Lion (A proper noun always starts with a capital letter.)
|Common Noun||Proper Noun|
|movie||Puss in Boots|
The Nine Types of Common NounNow that we know the difference between common nouns and proper nouns, we can look at the nine different noun types. These are all common nouns.
(1) Abstract nounsAbstract nouns are things you cannot see or touch.
- fear, anger, comfort
(2) Concrete nounsConcrete nouns are things you can see and touch.
- gerbil, igloo, zoo
(3) Collective nounsCollective nouns represent groups.
- team, gang, choir
(4) Compound nounsCompound nouns are made up of two or more words.
- mother-in-law, bus stop, snowman
(5) Gender-specific nounsGender-specific nouns are male or female.
- lady, boy, waiter
(6) GerundsGerunds end "-ing" and come from verbs.
- singing, talking, thinking
(7) Non-countable nounsNon-countable nouns have no plural.
- milk, water, patience
(8) Countable nounsCountable nouns can have a plural.
- coin, note, robot
(9) Verbal nounsVerbal nouns come from verbs, but they're not gerunds.
- development, drawing, attack
More Detail about the Types of NounBefore we look at the different types of noun in more detail, it is worth highlighting a noun often fits into several noun types. For example:
(cannot be seen or touched)
(can be seen or touched)
(represents a group)
(consists of two or more words)
(is masculine or feminine)
(formed from a verb and ends "-ing")
(cannot be pluralized)
(can be pluralized)
(formed from a verb but has no verb-like traits)
(1) Abstract NounsAn abstract noun is something you cannot see or touch (e.g., "bravery," "hate," "joy"). Here are some more examples of abstract nouns categorized under conceptual headings:
|Feelings||anxiety, fear, sympathy|
|States||freedom, chaos, luxury|
|Emotions||anger, joy, sorrow|
|Qualities||courage, determination, honesty|
|Concepts||opportunity, comfort, democracy|
|Moments||birthday, childhood, marriage|
(2) Concrete NounsA concrete noun is something you can see or touch (e.g., "tree," "cloud," "garlic"). Here are some more examples of concrete nouns:
- abbey, banjo, camel, daughter, eclipse, fawn, gerbil, hatchet, igloo, jackal, kangaroo, locket, monsoon, nuts, owl, palm, quill, raspberries, sea, tavern, usher, vulture, wasps, xylophone, yacht, zoo
(3) Collective NounsA collective noun is the word used for a group of people or things (e.g., "team," "group," "choir"). Here are some more examples of collective nouns:
- band, board, choir, class, company, congregation, crew, crowd, gang, horde, jury, mob, group, pack, party, team, tribe, bunch, cluster, fleet, range, gaggle, herd, hive, school, shoal, pride, swarm, tribe
- That team is the worst in the league. (Here, the collective noun "team" is treated as singular.)
- The team are not communicating among themselves. (This time, "team" is treated as plural because the focus is on the individuals within the team.)
(4) Compound NounsA compound noun is a noun made up of two or more words (e.g., "court-martial," "water bottle," "pickpocket"). Some compound nouns are hyphenated, some are not, and some combine their words to form a single word. For example:
Hyphenated compound nouns:
- black market
- board of members
- washing machine
- Mothers-in-law (Pluralize the principal word "mother.")
- Paper-clips (Pluralize the principal word "clip.")
- Forget-me-nots (Here, there is no principal word, so add "s" to the end.)
(5) Gender-Specific NounsA gender-specific noun refers to something specifically male (e.g., "man," "boy," "bull") or a female (e.g., "woman," "girl," "vixen"). Below are some more examples of gender-specific nouns:
- actor, boy, brother, emperor, father, gentleman, grandfather, grandson, headmaster, husband, man, master, mister, nephew, prince, son, steward, uncle, waiter, wizard
- actress, aunt, daughter, empress, girl, granddaughter, grandmother, headmistress, lady, lioness, lioness, madam, mistress, mother, niece, princess, princess, sister, stewardess, stewardess, tigress, tigress, waitress, waitress, wife, witch, woman
(6) GerundsAll gerunds end "-ing." A gerund is a noun formed from a verb (e.g., running quickly, guessing a number, baking cakes). Here are some examples of gerunds in sentences.
- Running the tap will clear the air pocket. (This is formed from the verb "to run.")
- She is known for talking quietly. (This is formed from the verb "to talk.")
- My highlight was visiting New York. (This is formed from the verb "to visit.")
- I like baking. (This is a gerund.)
- I need some baking powder. (This is a present participle used as an adjective.)
- She was baking a cake. (This is a present participle used to form the past progressive tense.)
- The quick development of the process is essential. (This eight-word sentence is clunky. There is no gerund.)
- Quickly developing the process is essential. (In this six-word sentence, a gerund has been modified by the adverb "quickly" and has the direct object "the process." It is two words shorter than the first example and more natural sounding.)
(7) Non-Countable Nouns (Mass Nouns)A non-countable noun (or mass noun as it's also known) is a noun without a plural form (e.g., "food," "music," "ice"). Non-countable nouns usually fall into one of the following categories: concept, activity, food, gas, liquid, material, item category, natural phenomenon, or particles. Here are some more examples of non-countable nouns shown in the categories.
|Concept||bravery, honesty, patience|
|Activity||playing, reading, sleeping|
|Food||bread, butter, milk|
|Gas||air, helium, hydrogen|
|Liquid||coffee, petrol, water|
|Material||concrete, wood, metal|
|Item Category||luggage, money, software|
|Natural Phenomenon||gravity, snow, sunshine|
|Particles||dust, flour, sugar|
(8) Countable NounsA countable noun is a noun that can be pluralized (e.g., "cat/cats," "argument/arguments," "device/devices"). Here are some more examples of countable nouns:
- aardvark, backbone, coin, daffodil, eagle, face, gorilla, house, igloo, jaguar, koala, log, man, note, orange, package, queen, robot, suitcase, table, udder, vacation, waltz, xylophone, yacht, zombie
(9) Verbal NounsA verbal noun is a noun that has no verb-like properties despite being derived from a verb (e.g., a building, an attack, a decision). Being normal nouns, verbal nouns can be modified by adjectives, be pluralized (if the sense allows), and be followed by prepositional phrases (e.g., "...of men," ...by me"). Here is another example of a verbal noun:
- I am responsible for the funny drawing of the monster. (Notice that the verbal noun has been modified by the adjective "funny." It could also be pluralized to "drawings," and it precedes a prepositional phrase "of the monster.")
- I am responsible for drawing the funny monster. (This time, the word "drawing" is a gerund. It cannot be modified by an adjective, it cannot be pluralized, and it cannot be followed by "of the monster." It has, however, taken a direct object ("the funny monster"), which a verbal noun cannot do.)
Noun Phrases and Noun ClausesIn real-life sentences, nouns rarely appear by themselves. Most nouns appear in noun phrases or noun clauses.
- Noun Phrase. A noun phrase is a group of two or more words that is headed by a noun. For example:
- How much is the doggy in the window? (Here, the noun phrase is shaded. The head noun is bold. The other words are modifiers.)
- Noun Clause. A noun clause is a clause (i.e., a group of words with its own subject and verb) that plays the role of a noun. For example:
- Whatever you wish is my command. (The noun clause is shaded. The clause subject is "you," and the clause verb is "wish.")
- How much is he? (Here, the noun phrase "the doggy in the window" has been replaced by the pronoun "he.")
- It is my command. (The noun clause "Whatever you wish" has been replaced by the pronoun "it.")
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