Nouns are a diverse group of words, and they are very common in English. Nouns are a category of words defining things—people, places, items, concepts.
As we’ve just learned, a noun is the name of a person (Dr. Sanders), place (Lawrence, Kansas, factory, home), thing (scissors, saw, book), or idea (love, truth, beauty, intelligence).
Let’s look at the following examples to get a better idea of how nouns work in sentences. All of the nouns have been bolded:
- The one experiment that has been given the most attention in the debate on saccharin is the 1977 Canadian study done on rats.
- The multi-fuel capacity of the Stirling engine gives it a versatility not possible in the internal combustion engine.
- The regenerative cooling cycle in the engines of the Space Shuttle is made up of high pressure hydrogen that flows in tubes connecting the nozzle and the combustion chamber.
Types of Nouns
Of the many different categories of nouns, a couple deserve closer attention here.
Common vs. Proper Noun
Common nouns are generic words, like tissue. They are lower-cased (unless they begin a sentence). A proper noun, on the other hand, is the name of a specific thing, like the brand name Kleenex. Proper nouns are always capitalized.
- common noun: name
- proper noun: Ester
Concrete vs. Abstract Noun
Concrete nouns are things you can hold, see, or otherwise sense, like book, light, or warmth.
Abstract nouns, on the other hand, are (as you might expect) abstract concepts, like time and love.
- concrete noun: rock
- abstract noun: justice
The rest of this section will dig into other types of nouns: count v. non-count nouns, compound nouns, and plural nouns.
Underline all of the nouns in the sentences below.
- In the advertisement by Conservation International, Julia Roberts makes an impassioned case for preserving nature.
- The presidential candidate’s rhetoric was impassioned but nonsensical.
- The rapper Kendrick Lamar’s album To Pimp a Butterfly is an example of what music critic James D. McLeod Jr. describes as “existentialist hip hop.”
- Climate change is one of the serious challenges the world has ever faced.
- Recently, a controversy erupted over who would head the Smithsonian.