Learn English Grammar : Lesson 2 – Nouns

Learn English Grammar: Lesson 2 – Nouns

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A noun is the name of a person, place, thing, or quality.

  1. person: Mrs. Smith, the doctor, the boys
  2. place: Cairo, a hotel, a soccer stadium
  3. thing: chocolate ice cream, my car, a small radio
  4. quality:  honesty, patience, love

A proper noun is the name of a specific person, place, or thing. A proper noun begins with a capital letter.

  1. person: Mrs. Smith, Bill Clinton, Indira Gandhi
  2. place: Cairo, the Hilton Hotel, British Columbia
  3. thing: Pepsi-Cola, United Airlines, Toyota

Count Nouns

Nouns that name things you can count are called count nouns. Count nouns can be singular or plural

  • Singular: a pencil, a quiz, my baby, one child
  • Plural: Some pencils, ten quizzes, our babies, many children

1. Singular Count Nouns

All singular count nouns must have an article (a, an, the) or some other determiner before them.

determiner             without a descriptive adjective         with a descriptive 

article                                        a cat                                        a black cat

possessive                                my class                                    my worst class

demonstrative                           that book                               that interesting book

number                                    one reason                                one specific reason

quantifier                                 each problem                           each serious problem

(Note: Determiner is a large category that includes (1) articles: a, an, the; (2) possessive adjectives: my, your, his, her, its, our, their; (3) demonstratives: this, that, these, those (4) numbers: one, two, three; (5) quantifiers: each, many, several)

Do not use a singular count noun without an article or other determiner:

Incorrect:  black cat          worst class                   interesting book                   reason

Correct:     a black cat       my worst class            an interesting book               the reason

In some idiomatic expressions, no article is used: have dinner in school on vacation at home at work by phone

2. Plural Count Nouns

To make a noun plural, you usually add -s.

book -> book               eraser -> erasers               subject -> subjects

If a noun ends in -s, -ss, -x, -ch, -sh or -z, we add -es to make the plural form.*

bus -> buses                      kiss -> kisses                toolbox -> toolboxes

switch -> switches            bush -> bushes             quiz -> quizzes

Exception: when the final -ch sounds like /k/, just add -s. stomach -> stomachs

3. Other Spelling Changes in Noun Plurals

Some nouns change their spelling to form the plural.

  1. Nouns that end in -y

When the letter before -y is a vowel (a, e, i, o, u), just add -s to form the plural.

boy -> boy            day -> day           bay -> bays

When the letter before -y is a consonant, change -y to -i and add -es.

baby -> babies         city -> cities             lady -> ladies

  1. Nouns that end in -f or-fe

The ending -f or -fe changes to -ves to form the plural.

shelf -> shelves        knife -> knives          leaf -> leaves

  1. Nouns that have the same form for singular and plural

1 sheep -> 2 sheep                1 deer -> 2 deer         1 fish -> 3 fish

1 series -> 2 series                1 species -> 10 species

  1. Nouns with consonant + -o ending

Add -es to form the plural.

hero -> heroes       potato -> potatoes

echo -> echoes      mosquito -> mosquitoes

  1. Nouns that have irregular spellings for the plural form

mouse -> mice            child -> children               person -> people

man -> men                 woman -> women

goose -> geese             foot -> feet                        tooth -> teeth