Friday, 24 June 2016

English Grammar :Nouns

Using nouns correctly in English is relatively simple, with standard rules and only a few exceptions. Use these pages to learn about the English grammar rules for gender, plurals, countable and uncountable nouns, compound nouns, capitalization, nationalities, and forming the possessive.


Noun gender

 

Nouns answer the questions "What is it?" and "Who is it?" They give names to things, people, and places.

Examples
  • dog
  • bicycle
  • Mary
  • girl
  • beauty
  • France
  • world
In general there is no distinction between masculine, feminine in English nouns. However, gender is sometimes shown by different forms or different words when referring to people or animals.
Examples
Masculine Feminine Gender neutral
man woman person
father mother parent
boy girl child
uncle aunt  
husband wife spouse
actor actress  
prince princess  
waiter waitress server
rooster hen chicken
stallion mare horse
Many nouns that refer to people's roles and jobs can be used for either a masculine or a feminine subject, like for example cousin, teenager, teacher, doctor, student, friend, colleague
Examples
  • Mary is my friend. She is a doctor.
  • Peter is my cousin. He is a doctor.
  • Arthur is my friend. He is a student.
  • Jane is my cousin. She is a student.

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Singular and plural nouns

 

Regular nouns

Most singular nouns form the plural by adding -s.
Examples
Singular Plural
boat boats
house houses
cat cats
river rivers
A singular noun ending in s, x, z, ch, sh makes the plural by adding-es.
Examples
Singular Plural
bus buses
wish wishes
pitch pitches
box boxes
A singular noun ending in a consonant and then y makes the plural by dropping the y and adding-ies.
Examples
Singular Plural
penny pennies
spy spies
baby babies
city cities
daisy daisies

Irregular nouns

There are some irregular noun plurals. The most common ones are listed below.
Examples
Singular Plural
woman women
man men
child children
tooth teeth
foot feet
person people
leaf leaves
mouse mice
goose geese
half halves
knife knives
wife wives
life lives
elf elves
loaf loaves
potato potatoes
tomato tomatoes
cactus cacti
focus foci
fungus fungi
nucleus nuclei
syllabus syllabi/syllabuses
analysis analyses
diagnosis diagnoses
oasis oases
thesis theses
crisis crises
phenomenon phenomena
criterion criteria
datum data
Some nouns have the same form in the singular and the plural.
Examples
Singular Plural
sheep sheep
fish fish
deer deer
species species
aircraft aircraft

Irregular verb/noun agreement

Some nouns have a plural form but take a singular verb.
Plural nouns used with a singular verb Sentence
news The news is at 6.30 p.m.
athletics Athletics is good for young people.
linguistics Linguistics is the study of language.
darts Darts is a popular game in England.
billiards Billiards is played all over the world.
Some nouns have a fixed plural form and take 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
Plural noun with plural verb Sentence
trousers My trousers are too tight.
jeans Her jeans are black.
glasses Those glasses are his.

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Countable and uncountable nouns

 

It's important to distinguish between countable and uncountable nouns in English because their usage is different in regards to both determiners and verbs.

Countable nouns

Countable nouns are for things we can count using numbers. They have a singular and a plural form. The singular form can use the determiner "a" or "an". If you want to ask about the quantity of a countable noun, you ask "How many?" combined with the plural countable noun.
Singular Plural
one dog two dogs
one horse two horses
one man two men
one idea two ideas
one shop two shops
Examples
  • She has three dogs.
  • I own a house.
  • I would like two books please.
  • How many friends do you have?

Uncountable nouns

Uncountable nouns are for the things that we cannot count with numbers. They may be the names for abstract ideas or qualities or for physical objects that are too small or too amorphous to be counted (liquids, powders, gases, etc.). Uncountable nouns are used with a singular verb. They usually do not have a plural form.
Examples
  • tea
  • sugar
  • water
  • air
  • rice
  • knowledge
  • beauty
  • anger
  • fear
  • love
  • money
  • research
  • safety
  • evidence
We cannot use a/an with these nouns. To express a quantity of an uncountable noun, use a word or expression like some, a lot of, much, a bit of, a great deal of , or else use an exact measurement like a cup of, a bag of, 1kg of, 1L of, a handful of, a pinch of, an hour of, a day of. If you want to ask about the quantity of an uncountable noun, you ask "How much?"
Examples
  • There has been a lot of research into the causes of this disease.
  • He gave me a great deal of advice before my interview.
  • Can you give me some information about uncountable nouns?
  • He did not have much sugar left.
  • Measure 1 cup of water, 300g of flour, and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  • How much rice do you want?

Tricky spots

Some nouns are countable in other languages but uncountable in English. They must follow the rules for uncountable nouns. The most common ones are:
accommodation, advice, baggage, behavior, bread, furniture, information, luggage, news, progress, traffic, travel, trouble, weather, work
Examples
  • I would like to give you some advice.
  • How much bread should I bring?
  • I didn't make much progress today.
  • This looks like a lot of trouble to me.
  • We did an hour of work yesterday.
Be careful with the noun hair which is normally uncountable in English, so it is not used in the plural. It can be countable only when referring to individual hairs.
Examples

 

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