Table of Contents

1. What is a Noun?

Definition and Scope of Nouns

A Noun is used as the name of a person, place, thing, idea and quality of a person. e.g., Rabindranath, Kolkata, table, father etc. It becomes the Subject or the Object of a verb and sometimes completes an Incomplete Prediction as well. But there are other certain things in English Grammar, which are also used for the same purpose, for instance, the Pronoun and the Infinitive.

2. Kinds of Noun

Nouns are of five kinds :

Common or Class Noun 

It is a name specified in common to every person or a thing of the same kind. It is not the name of any particular person or thing or place.  e.g., boy, girl, teacher, people, lake, city, etc.

Proper Noun

It is a name specified to some particular person, place or thing. e.g., Kolkata, Kamal, Bengal, Mars, Apple, etc.,

Collective Noun

It is a name of a collection of persons and things treated and spoken together as a whole. e.g., set, fleet, audience, flock, organization, class, committee, crowd, mob, etc.

Material Noun

 e.g., gold, coal, rice, coffee, sugar.

Abstract Noun 

It is the name of a quality, idea, concept or state. e.g., pain, honesty, death, love, emotion, etc. Remember! Gerunds are also Abstract Nouns. e.g., running, reading, writing, etc.

The first four are called Concrete Noun.

3. Number of a Noun

Either singular or plural in number

  • Singular nouns are like, man, woman, key, table, datum, book, etc.
  • Plural nouns are like, men, women, keys, tables, data, books, etc.

4. Gender of a Noun

  • Masculine Father, Brother, King, Horse, etc.
  • Feminine Mother, Sister, Queen, Mare, etc.
  • Common Employee, Worker, etc.
  • Neuter Baby, etc.

5. Case of a Noun

  • Subjective or Nominative case e.g., Ravi is my friend.
  • Objective or Accusative case e.g., Who brought this toy?
  • Possessive or Genitive case e.g., She is Ravi’s wife.
  • Vocative case e.g., Help me, Ravi.

Different kinds of subjects

  • Nouns: The cow gives us milk.
  • Pronouns: I shall go there.
  • The simple infinitive: To rise early is healthy.
  • The gerund: Rising early is healthy.
  • The verbal noun: The careful reading of a book requires patience.
  • Adjective as noun: The rich are not always happy.
  • Adverbs as noun: The ups and downs in life are many.
  • Noun clause: That he can speak well is known to all.

→ See a few more examples of Noun Clause

Different kinds of objects

  • Direct object: The teacher taught English with credit. (Act. Trans.)
  • Indirect Object: The teacher taught his students English with credit. (Act. Trans.)
  • Retained Object: His pupils were taught English with credit. (Pass. Voice)
  • Cognate Object: He lived a happy life. (Intrans. Verb)
  • Reflexive Object: She sat herself by the bedside. (Do.)
  • Adverbial Object: The wall is six feet high. (Neither after a preposition nor after a transitive verb) – I will see him next morning.
  • Complementary Object: People made him President. (Factitive Verb)
  • Dative Object: (Object of Interest) Saddle me the horse.
  • Exclamatory Object: O dear me! Ah me!

6. Apposition

Define a noun first then define its attribute in a sentence. Apposition means additional information. e.g.,

  • Ravi, the leader of our class, will distribute the handouts in the next class.

7. Absolute Singular Nouns

Some nouns are always used as singular. Don’t use s/es, indefinite articles, many with these nouns. e.g.,

advice, abuse, accommodation (UK), alphabet, baggage, business, bread, breakage, evidence, employment, equipment, expenditure, fish, food, fuel,  furniture,  hair, information, luggage, machinery, material, mischief, paper, poetry, scenery, soap, vacation, work, word (discussion, message, promise), etc.
  • She passed me information.
  • Netaji was true to his word.
  • Parents always give us good advice.
  • She has done much mischief.

→ See a few more examples

How to change Absolute Singular Nouns into Singular or Plural ones

Use a piece of, an act of, a loaf of, a word of, an article of etc. before the noun to make it singular.

  • She has done an act of mischief.
  • A piece of information has been received.
  • A word of abuse was thrown to the thief.
  • A piece of his work is yet to be done.
  • A loaf of bread was served with butter.

Use pieces of, acts of, loves of, words of, articles of etc. before the noun to make it plural.

  • She has done many mischief.
  • A few / two pieces of information have been received.
  • Some words of abuse were thrown to the thief.
  • Some pieces of his work are yet to be done.
  • Two loaves of bread were served with the butter.

8. Absolute Plural Nouns

Some nouns are always plural. Don’t dare cut s/es from them. e.g.,

aborigines, alms, annals, amends, archives, arrears, ashes, assets, auspices (support), bellows, breeches, contents, customs, credentials, Denims, eaves, entrails, earnings, fetters, Jeans, jodhpurs,  manners, mumps, nuptials, odds, orders, outfitters, outgoings, outskirts, proceeds, pyjamas, quarters, rations,  refreshments, requirements, riches, savings, semantics, scales, scissors, shears, spectacles, spirits, stairs, statistics (data), surroundings, thanks, tidings, trousers, vitals, wages, etc.
  • Scissors have been lost.
  • My savings are about to mature.
  • Alms are given among the beggars.
  • His spectacles seem too old.

→ See a few more examples

How to change Absolute Plural Nouns into Singular ones

Use a pair of or pair of before the noun.

  • A pair of spectacles has been found in the park.
  • His new pair of spectacles has been broken.
  • A new pair of Jeans is gifted to all on my birthday.

9. Nouns look Singular but actually are Plural

Some nouns look singular but are used as a plural, and takes plural verbs. And there are a few exceptions as well. e.g.,

aristocracy, audience, board, cattle, committee, crowd, clergy, family, folk, gentry, house, jury, majority, ministry, mob, nobility, number, offspring, peasantry, progeny, poultry, people, police, public, staff, team, vermin,  etc.
  • The police are investigating the matter.
  • Majority of the people are demanding for a new government.
  • Cattle are grazing in the field.
  • The jury is of opinion that the prisoner is guilty. (Reflects the unity )
  • The jury are divided in their opinions. (Reflects diversity in opinion)

→ See a few more examples

When ‘People’ means nation or country, its plural is ‘peoples’.

10. Nouns look Plural but actually are Singular

Some nouns look plural but are used as singular, and take singular verbs. e.g.,

Economics, Mathematics, Mechanics, Physics, Politics, Statistics, Statics, Aquatics, Billiards, Gallows, Gymnastics, Athletics, Mumps, Measles, Rickets, Three Musketeers, Gulliver’s Travels, Arabian Nights, War and Peace, Tales from Shakespeare, Innings, Series, News, Summons, United States, United Arab Emirates
  • This news has nothing new in it.
  • Mathematics is not a tough subject.

→ See a few more examples

11. Nouns used in same form in both singular and plural

Some nouns are used in same form in both singular and plural forms and take respective verbs by them e.g.,

sheep, swine, pair, score, dozen, lecture, fish, service, series, apparatus, etc.,

Remember! Pair, Score & Dozen never take s/es by their sides anyways.

  • We saw five sheep in his house.
  • A series of lecture is to be delivered on Monday.
  • A dozen of eggs.
  • Two dozen of eggs.

→ See a few more examples

12. Compound Nouns

Compound Nouns are made with different combinations of parts of speech. e.g.,

  • NOUN + NOUN : water bottle, backpack, Dining room, bathroom, football, handbag policeman, etc.,
  • ADJECTIVE + NOUN : blackboard, full moon, mobile phone, highway, greenhouse, six-pack, small talk, etc.
  • NOUN + VERB : haircut, rainfall, sunrise, sunset, etc.
  • NOUN + PREPOSITION : passer by, etc.
  • NOUN + ADJECTIVE : spoonful, cupful, handful, etc.
  • NOUN + PREPOSITIONAL PHRASE : sister-in-law, father-in-law, etc.
  • VERB + NOUN : upstairs, underpants, influx, etc.
  • ADJECTIVE + VERB : public speaking, dry wash, etc.
  • PREPOSITION + VERB : input, output, etc.

Some compound nouns in their plural forms

  • Master-architects
  • Fellow-workers
  • Passers-by
  • Heirs-apparent
  • Tea-spoonfuls
  • Hand-fuls
  • Spoon-fuls
  • Maid-servants
  • Haircuts
  • Gunmakers
  • Forget-me-nots
  • Lieutenant-Governors
  • Secretaries-General
  • Bedrooms
  • Sisters-in-law
  • Brothers-in-law
  • Father-in-law’s (Possessive case)
  • Brother-in-law’s (possessive case)

13. Nouns having different meanings in different numbers

Air – Mixture of gases
Airs – Proud behaviour / affected manners

Blind – Unable to see because of injury, disease, or a congenital condition
Blinds – A screen for a window, especially one on a roller or made of slats

Brother :
Brothers – Within blood relation (sibling, cousin)
Brethren – Out of blood relation

Character – The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual
Characters – People in a novel, play, or film

Colour – Hume
Colours – Flag

Content – Someone who is in a state of peaceful happiness
Contents – the things that are held or included in something

Custom – Habit & Practice
Customs – A government department of tax

Fish :
Fish – Fish of the same species
Fishes – Fish of different species

Force – Strength or energy as an attribute of physical action or movement
Forces – An organized military force equipped for fighting on land, sea or air

Good – Having the required qualities; of a high standard
Goods – Merchandise or possessions

Manner – A way or method in which a thing is done or happens
Manners – Polite or well-bred social behaviour OR etiquette one follows

Physic – The art of hearing
Physics – Science that deals in matter and energy

Sand – Very small or tiny quantity of rocks
Sands – Desert

Spectacle – A visually striking performance or display OR Some visual scene
Spectacles – A pair of glasses

Wood – The hard fibrous material that forms the main substance of the trunk or branches of a tree or shrub, used for fuel or timber
Woods – An area of land, smaller than a forest, that is covered with growing trees

Quarter – One fourth
Quarters – Government residence

14. Use of Fractions

  • A month and a half is passed.
  • Two months and a half are passed.
  • One and a half months are passed.
  • One-third of the work is done.
  • One-third of the people are men.
  • Two-thirds of the work is done.
  • Two-thirds of the people are men.

15. Use of Apostrophe with ‘s’

Apostrophe with ‘s’ is incorrect in the case of non-living things.

But ‘s’ is used with living things, personified nouns, time, distance, weight & amount. e.g.,

  • The chair’s wood is antique. (Incorrect)
  • The girl’s hand was full of flowers.
  • We will be on a month’s vacation.
  • A hundred-kilometre’s travel was made.
  • A penny’s worth of hydrogen can destroy a whole continent.
  • Night’s journey gives some people extra enjoyment.

In case of double possessive

  • Ravi and Raja’s father is a businessman. (Same father)
  • Ravi’s and Raja’s fathers are businessmen. (Fathers are different)

When a single person has two identities then apostrophe( ’ ) should be used with the last identity

  • Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, the former President of India’s car is black.
  • Sardar Patel, the iron man’s statue will be erected soon.

Apostrophe( ’ ) cannot be used before any relative pronoun

  • India has begun to depend on Virat Kohli’s batting who provides stability to the middle order. (Incorrect)
  • India has begun to depend on the batting of Virat Kohli who provides the stability to middle order.
  • This is my best friend Seema’s house who comes to my house everyday. (Incorrect)
  • This is the house of my best friend Seema who comes to my house everyday.

In case of pronouns, apostrophe is not used but ‘s’ is added.

  • Its price is as high as a imported one.
  • It’s an scarce on it. (It has)
  • It’s an imported one. (It is)
  • Pooja and I both have straight hair but hers is longer than mine.

Plural nouns or words ending with ‘s’ take apostrophe without ‘s’.

  • Kalidas’ works have been influencing people since ages.
  • Keats’ poems give satisfactions to the readers.
  • Girls’ schools are less in our country.
  • Prometheus’ punishment was being chained to a rock for eternity.
  • Archimedes’ principle goes if the weight of the water displaced is less than the weight of the object, the object will sink.
  • Pythagoras’ theorem is useful to find the sides of a right-angled triangle.
  • Socrates’ view was that there is either an afterlife, or that death is an eternal sleep.

In case of ‘Else’

  • This copy is not mine, somebody else’s.
  • The copy is not here, where else should I look?
  • Whose else copy is this? (‘Whose’ already is a possessive case)
  • Everybody else has (= All the other people have) agreed except for you.

16. Two different adjectives for a same noun make plural subject

  • Black and blue color are acceptable when writing in examinations.
  • Economical and Political condition in our country are degrading day by day.
  • Good and bad student are equally seen in any school.

17. Noun-Preposition-Noun sits in singular forms

  • He can remember any poem word-for-word.
  • I have been turning page-after-page for one hour but hardly read.
  • Edward Jenner went door-to-door to aware all about his new invention of the vaccine of small pox.
  • His health is falling day-by-day.
  • She has been standing by the road hour-after-hour for her friend since morning.

18. ‘No’ always follows Nouns

  • No orders has yet been passed.
  • No apples are rotten.
  • When I was in trouble, no one was there by me.

19. Do not use these

  • Family members; use, The members of the family
  • Cousin sister; use, Cousin
  • Table’s leg; say, The leg of the table
  • A ten rupees note; say, A ten rupee note
  • A two yards stick; say, A two yard stick
  • Many thousands people; say, Many thousand people or, Thousands of people
  • Two dozens eggs; say, Two dozen eggs or Dozens of egg
  • India has won the champions trophy; say, India have won the champions trophy (When considered as a team)
  • France is good in football; say, France are good in football (When considered as a team)

20. Abstract Countable Nouns

  • a reading – five readings
  • a conversation – three conversations
  • an emergency – several emergencies
  • an aspiration – many aspirations
  • a belief – certain beliefs

21. Singular use of ‘They’

  • You shouldn’t judge someone until you know what they are really like.
  • If anyone needs extra help with their studies, they should feel free to see me after class.

22. Nouns of Recipience

  • Employee, payee, interviewee, absentee etc.