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Believe in Good
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11/11/2008
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Nouns

It's not easy to describe a noun. In simple terms, nouns are "things" (and verbs are "actions"). Like food. Food (noun) is something you eat (verb). Or happiness. Happiness (noun) is something you want (verb). Or human being. A human being (noun) is something you are (verb).
What are Nouns?

The simple definition is: a person, place or thing. Here are some examples:

  • person: man, woman, teacher, John, Mary
  • place: home, office, town, countryside, America
  • thing: table, car, banana, money, music, love, dog, monkey
The problem with this definition is that it does not explain why "love" is a noun but can also be a verb.
Another (more complicated) way of recognizing a noun is by its:

  1. Ending
  2. Position
  3. Function
1. Noun Ending
There are certain word endings that show that a word is a noun, for example:

  • -ity > nationality
  • -ment > appointment
  • -ness > happiness
  • -ation > relation
  • -hood > childhood
But this is not true for the word endings of all nouns. For example, the noun "spoonful" ends in -ful, but the adjective "careful" also ends in -ful.
2. Position in Sentence
We can often recognise a noun by its position in the sentence.
Nouns often come after a determiner (a determiner is a word like a, an, the, this, my, such):

  • a relief
  • an afternoon
  • the doctor
  • this word
  • my house
  • such stupidity
Nouns often come after one or more adjectives:

  • a great relief
  • a peaceful afternoon
  • the tall, Indian doctor
  • this difficult word
  • my brown and white house
  • such crass stupidity
3. Function in a Sentence
Nouns have certain functions (jobs) in a sentence, for example:

  • subject of verb: Doctors work hard.
  • object of verb: He likes coffee.
  • subject and object of verb: Teachers teach students.
But the subject or object of a sentence is not always a noun. It could be a pronoun or a phrase. In the sentence "My doctor works hard", the noun is "doctor" but the subject is "My doctor".
 
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