Nouns - English Grammar Today - Cambridge Dictionaries Online
Cambridge Dictionaries online Cambridge Dictionaries online

The most popular online dictionary and thesaurus for learners of English

Nouns are one of the four major word classes, along with verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Nouns are the largest word class.

Types of nouns

A noun refers to a person, animal or thing. Some examples are:

Nouns referring to people

boy

woman

student

Maria

girl

teacher

president

Lennon

man

mother

John

Nouns referring to animals and things

book

tree

Manchester

name

computer

bird

idea

place

picture

dog

love

The woman in the picture is my mother.

Her name is Anna. She’s from Manchester.

The diagram shows the different types of nouns and how they relate to one another.

Most nouns are common nouns, referring to classes or categories of people, animals and things.

Proper nouns are the names of specific people, animals and things. They are written with a capital letter at the start.

Concrete nouns refer to material objects which we can see or touch.

Abstract nouns refer to things which are not material objects, such as ideas, feelings and situations.

Identifying nouns

It is not always possible to identify a noun by its form. However, some word endings can show that the word is probably a noun.

ending

examples

-age

postage, language, sausage

-ance/-ence

insurance, importance, difference

-er/-or

teacher, driver, actor

-hood

childhood, motherhood, fatherhood

-ism

socialism, capitalism, nationalism

-ist

artist, optimist, pianist

-itude

attitude, multitude, solitude

-ity/-ty

identity, quantity, cruelty

-ment

excitement, argument, government

-ness

happiness, business, darkness

-ship

friendship, championship, relationship

-tion/-sion

station, nation, extension

Gerunds

The -ing forms of verbs (gerunds) can also act as nouns.

Smoking is forbidden on all flights.

The City Council does its economic planning every September.

(“Nouns” from English Grammar Today © Cambridge University Press. Need grammar practice? Try English Grammar Today with Workbook.)
Add Cambridge dictionaries to your browser to your website
Word of the Day
dole

the money that the government gives to people who are unemployed

Word of the Day

Are you a glass-half-full person? (Everyday Idioms)
Are you a glass-half-full person? (Everyday Idioms)
by Kate Woodford,
July 29, 2015
A reader of this blog recently asked for a post on idioms that are used in everyday English. This seemed like a reasonable request. After all, if you are going to make the effort to learn a set of English idioms, you want those idioms to be useful. The question, then, was

Read More 

responsible luxury noun
responsible luxury noun
August 03, 2015
high-end, green tourism and hospitality Jumeirah’s ‘responsible luxury’ approach is an example of a sustainable travel experience – future guests will enjoy the environment as much as today’s.

Read More