Glossary

A word class that includes all words denoting physical objects such as ‘man’, ‘woman’, ‘boy’, ‘girl’, ‘diamond’, ‘car’, ‘window’ etc. These are called ‘concrete nouns’. ‘Abstract nouns’ express intangibles such as ‘democracy’, ‘courage’, ‘success’, ‘fact’, ‘idea’. The most important grammatical property of nouns concerns their function. A noun group/phrase, which contains a noun as its major element, can function as:

  • subject (for example, ‘(the sun) was shining’)
  • object (for example, ‘I'd like (an apple)’)
  • a part of a prepositional phrase (for example, ‘they arrived (on time)’).

Most nouns can be marked for plural (for example, ‘dog’–‘dogs’, ‘woman’–‘women’), and for possessive (for example, ‘dog’–‘dog’s’, ‘woman’–‘woman's’.

There are three major grammatical types of nouns: common nouns, proper nouns and pronouns.

  • common nouns include words such as ‘hat’, ‘phone’, ‘pollution’ that do not name a particular person, place, thing, quality and so on. They can be concrete or abstract nouns.
  • proper nouns include words such as ‘Australia’, ‘Mary Smith’, ‘October’, which serve as the names of particular persons, places, days/months and festivals. They usually occur without a determiner, such as ‘the’.