English in Use/Vocabulary Nouns< English in Use
|General||Contents • Introduction|
|Parts of speech||Articles • Nouns • Verbs • Gerunds and participles • Pronouns • Adjectives • Adverbs • Prepositions, Conjunctions and Interjections|
|Other topics||Orthography • Punctuation • Syntax • Figures of Syntax • Glossary|
"A Naming word."
A noun, or noun substantive, is a word or phrase that refers to a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality. Nouns are parts of speech and can be classified in different ways such as proper nouns (e.g. "Janet") versus common nouns (e.g. "girl"), or collective nouns (e.g. "bunch", "herd"). Nouns can be substituted by pronouns (e.g. "she" and "which"). The word noun derives from Latin nomen meaning "name" (as a noun can be considered an object, person, or concept's name).
Further classifications include the distinction between concrete nouns and abstract nouns. Concrete nouns refer to definite objects (e.g. chair, apple, Janet) and abstract nouns refer to ideas or concepts (e.g. justice, liberty). While sometimes useful, the boundaries between these two are not always clear.
In sentences, nouns occur in several different ways, the most common being as subjects (performers of action), or objects (recipients of action). In the sentence "John wrote me a letter", "John" is a subject; "me" and "letter" are objects (of which "letter" is a noun and "me" a pronoun).