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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.)
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