Noun – Definition

To truly master English, you’ll need to know what is a noun and what the different variations are. You’ll also want to know how to use each one precisely so that you’ll be able to speak or teach English with confidence.

As for the definition, nouns are one of the basic building blocks of a sentence. They normally represent a person, animal, place, idea, emotion or thing.

Learning more nouns can help you master English better and use it more efficiently. They’re also one of the easiest topics to teach in English.

Examples of NOUNS:

Man (person), School (place), Dog (animal), Anger (emotion), Pencil (thing)

Noun Examples in a sentence

  1. The robber went to the bank and stole a lot of money.
  2. The father watched over his daughter as she rode her bicycle.
  3. Kevin threw a rock at a glass window of an abandoned building.

When to Capitalize a Noun?

Here are all the situations where you can use capitalization.

  1. The beginning of a sentence
  2. Names and titles of people
  3. First person personal pronoun
  4. Titles of works, books, and movies
  5. Months of the year
  6. Days of the week
  7. Names of seasons
  8. Names of holidays
  9. Names of countries and continents
  10. Names of regions, states, and districts
  11. Names of cities, towns, and villages
  12. Names of rivers, oceans, seas, and lakes
  13. Names of street, buildings, and parks
  14. Names of geographical locations
  15. Adjectives relating to nationalities
  16. Collective nouns for nationalities
  17. Language names

Regular Nouns

Most singular nouns form the plural by adding -s.

SingularPlural
DogDogs
SchoolSchools
PotPots
BedBeds
ForkForks

A singular noun ending in s, x, z, ch, sh makes the plural by adding-es.

SingularPlural
NicheNiches
DitchDitches
BoxBoxes
BusBuses
LeashLeashes

A singular noun ending in a consonant and then y makes the plural by dropping the y and addingies.

SingularPlural
DaisyDaisies
BullyBullies
RallyRallies
SupplySupplies
BunnyBunnies

Irregular Plural Nouns

Here is a list of irregular nouns, some of the most common ones have been added to the list.

SingularPlural
ManMen
WomanWomen
PersonPeople
ChildChildren
ToothTeeth
FootFeet
LeafLeaves
MouseMice
GooseGeese
KnifeKnives
HalfHalves
ElfElves
LifeLives
PotatoPotatoes
TomatoTomatoes
CactusCacti
FocusFoci
FungusFungi
NucleusNuclei
SyllabusSyllabi
AnalysisAnalyses
DiagnosisDiagnoses
ThesisTheses
CrisisCrises
PhenomenonPhenomena
CriterionCriteria
DatumData
OasisOases
BasisBases
BacteriumBacteria
AddendumAddenda
AlgaAlgae
ParalysisParalyses
RadiusRadii

Some nouns have the exact same form in both singular and plural.

SingularPlural
BisonBison
FishFish
AdviceAdvice
CannonCannon
FoodFood
FurnitureFurniture
GallowsGallows
FruitFruit
FlourFlour
HovercraftHovercraft
AircraftAircraft
KnowledgeKnowledge
InsigniaInsignia
LuggageLuggage

Irregular Plural Nouns and Verb Agreements

Irregular Plural Nouns that can use a singular verb.

Plural Noun with Single VerbSentence
NewsThe news is showing tonight at 8.
MathematicsMathematics is an important subject.
DartsDarts is a game that requires precision.
BilliardsBilliards is difficult to master.
DollarsFifty Dollars is a lot of money.
MilesTwenty Miles is a long way to walk.
United StatesThe United States is a big country.

Some nouns have a fixed plural form that uses a plural verb. They are not used in the singular, or they have a different meaning in the singular. Nouns like this include: trousers, jeans, glasses, savings, thanks, steps, stairs, customs, congratulations, tropics, wages, spectacles, outskirts, goods, wits, etc.

Plural Noun with Plural VerbsSentence
SavingsMy savings are limited to what I made last year.
StepsThese steps are difficult to follow.
GoodsThese goods are worth a lot.
WitsHis wits are all he had.
WagesTheir wages were low.

Grammatical Gender Nouns

In English grammar, there are four distinct genders to classify certain nouns: Masculine, Feminine, Common, and Neuter.

Masculine and Feminine Gender Nouns

MasculineFeminine
ActorActress
AuthorAuthoress
BachelorSpinster
ConductorConductress
BoyGirl
BridegroomBride
BrotherSister
ConductorConductress
CountCountess
CzarCzarina
DadMom
DaddyMommy
PapaMama
DukeDuchess
ManWoman
EmperorEmpress
FatherMother
GodGoddess
GrandfatherGrandmother
HeirHeiress
HeroHeroine
HostHostess
HusbandWife
KingQueen
MasterMistress
MurdererMurderess
NephewNiece
PoetPoetess
PolicemanPolicewoman
PrincePrincess
SirMadam
Sondaughter
UncleAunt
WizardWitch
WaiterWaitress
FiremanFirewoman

Animal Gender Nouns

AnimalMasculineFeminine
RabbitBuckDoe
HorseStallionMare
SheepRamEwe
PigBoarSow
ChickenRoosterHen
DuckDrakeDuck
CattleBullCow
GooseGanderGoose
FoxFoxVixen
TigerTigerTigress
LionLionLioness

Common Gender Nouns

Common nouns refer to members of a species and don’t specify the gender.

Examples of COMMON GENDER NOUNS

  • Baby
  • Child
  • Companion
  • Comrade
  • Cousin
  • Dancer
  • Fighter
  • Friend
  • Guardian
  • Guest
  • Killer
  • Infant
  • Owner
  • Parent
  • Passenger
  • President
  • Person
  • Pupil
  • Relative
  • Singer
  • Student
  • Teacher
  • Thief

Neuter Gender Nouns

Neuter Gender Nouns refer to things that are neither masculine nor feminine. They do not specify sex at all as they are usually non-living.

Examples of NEUTER GENDER NOUNS

  • Crayon
  • Pencil
  • Rock
  • Paper
  • Scissor
  • Telephone
  • Book
  • Chair
  • Glass

Countable Nouns

Any Noun that can be counted, whether its singular – a man, a dog, a hospital, etc. or plural – a few apples, a lot of oranges, many people, etc. is a countable noun. Singular nouns are used with singular verbs, whereas Plural nouns are used with plural verbs. Here is a sample list of countable nouns.

SingularPlural
one dogtwo dogs
one horsetwo horses
one mantwo men
one ideatwo ideas
one platetwo plates
one schooltwo schools

Here are some examples of how singular and plural nouns are used in a sentence.

  • The man raised three dogs in his small little house.
  • He gave me a book to read.
  • There was a large sea monster eating all the fish.
  • Bring me five oranges and I’ll give you one watermelon.

Uncountable Nouns

Anything that cannot be counted is an uncountable noun. Even though uncountable nouns are not individual objects, they are always singular and one must always use singular verbs together with uncountable nouns. Here is a sample list of uncountable nouns.

  • Water
  • Tea
  • Juice
  • Sand
  • Air
  • Beauty
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Love
  • Money
  • Intelligence
  • Information

Uncountable nouns can be paired up with other words to express plurals. Putting them together can make your writing more specific. For example:

  • Robert drank five glasses of water.
  • Tiffany piled up ten bags of sand.
  • Riley put three slices of cheese on his sandwich.

Compound Noun

compound noun is a noun that is made up of two or more words. 

FirstSecondCompound Noun
policemanpoliceman
boyfriendboyfriend
watertankwater tank
diningtabledining-table

There are several different ways to combine nouns with another word.

  • Noun + Noun = Bathtub
  • Noun + Verb = Haircut
  • Noun + Adverb = Passer-by
  • Verb + Noun = Driving School
  • Verb + Adverb = Drawback
  • Adverb + Noun = Bystander
  • Adjective + Verb = Public Speaking
  • Adjective + Noun = Software
  • Adverb + Verb = Under-bite

Proper Noun

A proper noun or proper name is a noun that represents unique entities as distinguished among common entities.

For example, a common noun such as ‘country’ has no distinct characteristics, but ‘Greece’ is a proper noun which adds a unique quality to the common noun ‘country’.

Common Noun Proper Noun
Sword Excalibur
Ocean Pacific Ocean
God Thor
Country Ireland
Planet Mercury
Book Bible

Collective Noun

A collective noun is a type of noun that refers to groups that include more than one individual.

  • A group of men
  • A cast of actors
  • A flock of birds
  • A pack of wolves
  • A batch of cakes
  • A bowl of rice

These nouns can be followed with a singular or plural verb referred by a single or plural pronoun.

The singular form is used to emphasize on the group as a whole unit, whereas the plural form is used to emphasize on the individual members.

  • A committee was appointed to consider this subject. (singular)
  • The committee were unable to agree. (plural)

Concrete Noun and Abstract Noun

A concrete noun is a type of noun refers to physical entities that can be observed by at least one of the senses.

Example: Rock, Trees, Pencil, Wind, Oranges, etc.

An abstract noun, however, refer to abstract ideas or concepts.

Example: Fear, Courage, Justice, Power, etc.

Some nouns can be considered both an abstract noun and concrete noun. For example, Art can be a concept or idea that is appreciated, but it can also be a tangible piece of work.

Alienable Noun and Inalienable Noun

An alienable noun is something that does not belong to a person indefinitely, such as T-shirt, pants, rocks, trees, and wind.

However, An inalienable noun refers to something that is possessed definitely, such as mother, hands, neighbor, and hair.

Bottom Line

Now that you’ve learned all about what is a noun, you’ll want to check out the other 8 parts of speech. Familiarize yourself with what is a pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection.

You can also master English by knowing how to use determiners properly. It’s always a good idea to review your English grammar by checking out ESL Workshop.

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