Nouns are commonly thought of as "naming" words, and specifically as the names of "people, places, or things". Nouns such as John,London, and computer certainly fit this description, but the class of nouns is much broader than this. Nouns also denote abstract and intangible concepts such as birth, happiness, evolution, technology,management, imagination, revenge, politics, hope, cookery, sport,literacy.... Because of this enormous diversity of reference, it is not very useful to study nouns solely in terms of their meaning. It is much more fruitful to consider them from the point of view of their formal characteristics.
Characteristics of NounsMany nouns can be recognised by their endings. Typical noun endings include: -er/-or| actor, painter, plumber, writer| -ism| criticism, egotism, magnetism, vandalism|
-ist| artist, capitalist, journalist, scientist|
-ment| arrangement, development, establishment, government| -tion| foundation, organisation, recognition, supposition| Most nouns have distinctive SINGULAR and PLURAL forms. The plural of regular nouns is formed by adding -s to the singular: Singular| Plural| car| cars|
However, there are many irregular nouns which do not form the plural in this way: Singular| Plural| man| men|
The distinction between singular and plural is known as NUMBER CONTRAST. We can recognise many nouns because they often have the, a, or anin front of them: the car
a reviewThese words are called determiners, which is the next word class we will look at. Nouns may take an -'s ("apostrophe s") or GENITIVE MARKER to indicate possession: the boy's pen
a spider's web
my girlfriend's brother
John's houseIf the noun already has an -s ending to mark the plural, then the genitive marker appears only as an apostrophe after the...