Learn English Grammar: Lesson 2 – Nouns
A noun is the name of a person, place, thing, or quality.
- person: Mrs. Smith, the doctor, the boys
- place: Cairo, a hotel, a soccer stadium
- thing: chocolate ice cream, my car, a small radio
- 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.
- person: Mrs. Smith, Bill Clinton, Indira Gandhi
- place: Cairo, the Hilton Hotel, British Columbia
- thing: Pepsi-Cola, United Airlines, Toyota
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 -> books 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.
- 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 -> boys day -> days bay -> bays
When the letter before -y is a consonant, change -y to -i and add -es.
baby -> babies city -> cities lady -> ladies
- 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
- 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
- Nouns with consonant + -o ending
Add -es to form the plural.
hero -> heroes potato -> potatoes
echo -> echoes mosquito -> mosquitoes
- 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