Learn English Grammar: Lesson 9,10 – Noun Basics, Count Nouns

1. Noun Basics

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

person: woman children Dr. Smith Mrs. Williams
place: downtown the beach Boston Dallas
thing: a cup a drink Pepsi-Cola Delta Airlines
idea/feeling: honesty friendship happiness anger

2. Count Nouns

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

singular: a pencil some   a quiz ten      my baby          one child many

plurals: pencils               quizzes          our babies       children

2.1 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 adjective

articles                       a cat                                             a black cat

possessive                 my class                                        my worst class

demonstrative           that book number                           that interesting book

Number                    one reason                                    one specific reason

quantifier                  each problem                                each serious problem

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

Incorrect:         black cat               worst class                  interesting book

Correct:           a black cat             my worst class            an interesting book   

In some idiomatic expressions, no article is used:

have dinner     in school         on vacation          at home          at work      by phone

2.2. 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

2.3 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 -> 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

  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

Learn English Grammar: Lesson 11 – Articles A and An