Chapter II : The nouns ( part I.)

A Noun is a word used as the name of a person, place or thing.

Note: The word thing is used to mean anything that we can think of.

 Look at the following sentence:

Asoka was a wise king.

The noun Asoka refers to a particular king, but the noun king might be applied to any

other king as well as to Asoka. We call Asoka a Proper Noun, and king a Common Noun.


Sita is a Proper Noun, while girl is a Common Noun.

François  is a Proper Noun, while boy is a Common Noun.

Ouagadougou  is a Proper Noun, while city is a Common Noun.

Burkina Faso is a Proper Noun, while country is a Common Noun.

The word girl is a Common Noun, because it is a name common to all girls, while Sita is

a Proper Noun because it is the name of a particular girl.

Def. – A Common Noun is a name given in common to every person or thing of the same

class or kind.

[Common here means shared by all.]

Def. – A Proper Noun is the name of some particular person or place,

[Proper means one’s own. Hence a Proper Name is a person’s own name.]

Note 1 – Proper Nouns are always written with a capital letter at the beginning.

2 – Proper Nouns are sometimes used as Common Nouns; as,

  1. He was the Lukman (= the wisest man) of his age.
  2. Kalidas is often called the Shakespeare (= the greatest dramatist) of India.

Common Nouns include what are called Collective Nouns and Abstract Nouns .

A Collective Noun is the name of a number (or collection) of persons or things taken

together and spoken of as one whole; as : Crowd, mob, team, flock, herd, army, flee.

A fleet = a collection of ships or vessels.

An army = a collection of soldiers.

A crowd = a collection of people.

The police dispersed the crowd.

The French army was defeated at Waterloo.  

An Abstract Noun is usually the name of a quality, action, or state considered apart

from the object to which it belongs; as : Quality – Goodness, kindness, whiteness, darkness, hardness, brightness, honesty.

Action – Laughter, theft, movement.

State – Childhood, , youth, slavery, death, poverty.

The names of the Arts and Science (e.g., grammar, music, chemistry, etc.) are also

Abstract Nouns.

We can speak of a brave soldier, a strong man, a beautiful flower. But we can also think

of these qualities apart from any particular person or thing, and speak of bravery,

strength, beauty by themselves. So also we can speak of what persons do or feel apart

from the persons themselves, and give it a name. The word abstract means drawn off.

 Abstract Nouns are formed:

(1) From Adjectives as,

Kindness from kind; honesty from honest.

(2) From Verbs: as,

Obedience from obey; growth from grow.

(3) From Common Nouns; as,

Childhood from child; slavery from slave.

   Another classification of nouns is whether they are “countable” or “uncountable”.

Countable nouns (or countables) are the names of objects, people, etc. that we can count,

e.g., book, pen, apple, boy, sister, doctor, horse.

Uncountable nouns (or uncountables) are the names of things which we cannot count,

e.g., milk, oil, sugar, gold, honesty. They mainly denote substances and abstract things.

Countable nouns have plural forms while uncountable nouns do not. For example, we say

“books” but we cannot say “milks”.

Remark :

Based on the gender of the living beings, we have male and female.

A noun that denotes either a male or a female is said to be of the Common Gender as

Parent, child.

A noun that denotes a thing that is neither male nor female (i.e., thing without life) is said to be of the Neuter Gender as Book, pen.

 How to form the feminine of masculine nouns

By using an entirely different word : Boy–girl; Brother–Sister

 By adding a syllable (-ess, -ine, -trix, -a, etc) : Poet–poetess; Priest–priestess

 in the following -ess is added after dropping the vowel of the masculine : Actor — actress; Emperor — empress


  Biography : NEW EDITION HIGH SCHOOL English Grammar & Composition BY WREN &MARTIN(With New Appendices) REVISED BY N.D.V. PRASADA RAO S. CHAND



Exercises :

1)  Say if the following words are common, proper, abstract or collective nouns :

A crowd, a boy, a woman, Bobo-Dioulasso, Africa, Ivory Coast , a car, Toyota, Puma, Shoes,Sarah.

2) Look for the feminine of these masculine nouns :

king,  doctor, Founder, Hunter, Instructor, Abbot, Preceptor, Prince, Tempter, Tiger, Traitor, Waiter, Master, Murderer




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