Definition and Types of Noun
In this article you will learn about general definition of noun, definition of noun in major dictionaries, examples of noun, categories and types of noun, gerund noun vs verbal noun and at last you will find a quiz on noun with 10 MCQs.
Definition of Noun
A noun is a word used for a place, person, or thing. Everything, which has a name and we talk about it, is a noun. We donate everything by a name and that naming word is “noun”.
Often a noun will be the name for something we can touch (e.g., lamb, pen, table), but sometimes a noun will be the name for something we cannot touch (e.g., happiness, determinism, truth).
Some Examples of Noun
We represent everything by a word that is called a noun. Some of the examples of noun are written below
People: Ali, boy, singer.
Animals: Cat, cow, elephant.
Places: Karachi, city, street.
Objects: Cup, pencil, book.
Qualities: Boldness, sorrow.
Actions: Writing, listening, running.
Definition of Noun in Major Dictionaries
Below are the definitions of noun from some of the major dictionaries.
Definition of Noun in Merriam Webster Dictionary
Merriam Webster Dictionary defines noun as: “a word or a phrase that is the name of something (as a person, place, or thing) and that is used in a sentence especially as subject or object of a verb or as a subject of a preposition.“
Definition of Noun in Oxford Learner’s Dictionary
Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines noun as: “a word that refers to a person, (such as Ann or doctor), a place (such as Paris or city), or a thing, a quality or an activity (such as plan, joy or tennis).“
Types of Noun
There are many types of noun depending upon some aspects. One noun may fall in multiple categories. A common noun may be a countable noun and at a same time that noun may b a concrete e.g., pencil is a common noun; it is countable, concrete and as well, it is a singular noun. Some main categories and types of noun are below.
- Proper noun vs Common noun
- Concrete noun vs Abstract noun
- Collective noun vs Compound Noun
- Countable noun vs Uncountable noun
- Gerund noun vs Verbal noun
Proper Noun vs Common Noun
Example: I met to my best friend, Mashal, on Sunday. (In this sentence, Mashal and Sunday are proper nouns)
A common noun is a type of noun that we use for a class of person, place, or thing (e.g., person, city, and dog). We do not capitalize common noun unless used in start of a sentence. There are some exception like in poetry where every word of new line is capitalized. Some thing that is personified in poetry is also capitalized e.g., “So Nature incites them in their hearts” ( Prologue- Geoffrey Chaucer) here word poetry is personified, therefore it is capitalized.
Example: A person was walking on the road with his black dog. (In this sentence, person, road, and dog are common nouns)
Concrete Noun vs Abstract Noun
Example: A hammer is a tool to hit on something.
Abstract nouns are things you cannot see or touch. Abstract nouns do not have physical existence. These nouns are difficult to guess. Sometime learner get confused with abstract noun and adjectives. Abilities and emotions are abstract noun e.g. bravery, joy, determination etc.
Example: Aristotle was a brave man who stood with the truth.
Collective Noun vs Compound noun
Collective nouns are words that denote groups collection or multitude of something. We use these nouns as a singular noun e.g., team, army, concert.
Example: Every one was supporting his own team during football match.
Compound nouns are nouns made up of more than one word. For example: court-martial, pickpocket, water bottle. Some compound nouns are two words (e.g., peace pipe), some are hyphenated (e.g., play-off), and some have become single words (e.g., eyeopener). And, many of them are currently transitioning through those stages. Therefore, spelling compound nouns can be a nightmare. Some compound nouns form their plural by adding an s to the principal word, not necessarily to the end (e.g., brothers-in-law).
Example: Please take my raincoat, outside is raining.
Countable Noun vs Uncountable Noun
A countable noun is a noun that can be counted in numbers like one pen, two cars with both a singular and a plural form (e.g., dog/dogs, pie/pies).
Example: I have two black pen.
An uncountable noun is a noun without a plural form For example: oxygen, patience. such noun do not include counting. All abstract noun falls under the uncountable category of nouns.
Example: Please take some water.
Gerund Noun vs Verbal Noun
Like other types of noun, Gerunds are also nouns that end -ing and represent actions. Gerunds have verb-like properties. But these are used differently in a sentence unlike verbs. Gerund noun are modified with adverbs. How to differentiate gerund noun and verb? look at two examples:
(a) Ali is singing a song.
(b) Ali is fond of singing.
In sentence (a) singing is verb as its show action that Ali is performing. Verb with -ing are used followed by helping verbs is, am, was, were, etc. But in sentence (b) singing is not an action being performed by Ali and not followed by a helping verb.
We derive Verbal nouns from verbs and do not have verb-like properties (e.g., building, drawing, attack).
Example: The color of our residential building is red.
In above example, the word building is a noun and this noun is derived from verb build. The word building is a verb, gerund and verbal noun at a same time. look at few example to differentiate it.
Examples in a sentence:
They are building a plaza. (verb)
I love red buildings. (verbal noun)
Building a multi-story plaza can be time taking. (gerund noun)
How to differentiate gerund noun and verbal noun?
To understand difference between gerund noun and verbal noun look at given example.
- The ceremonial raising of the flag has started.
- Raising the flag carefully is much difficult.
Like gerunds nouns, we derive verbal nouns from verbs, but, unlike gerunds, they have no verb-like properties. In above given example, the verbal noun raising is not showing any verb-like qualities. It is not modified by a determiner and an adjective (the and ceremonial) and it requires a preposition (of) to link it to the flag. In contrast, in the sentence “raising the flag carefully is much difficult,” the word raising (which, despite being spelled the same, is now a gerund) is showing verb-like qualities. More specifically, it is modified with an adverb (carefully).
Verbal nouns are usually preceded by a or an or the and followed by a preposition (e.g., of, in, for). This makes them pretty inefficient from a word count perspective. Also, a sentence with verbal nouns can often sound stuffy.
However, verbal nouns can give an air of formality or provide emphasis. So, we should all care about verbal nouns for two reasons:
(1) Replacing verbal nouns with verbs and gerunds will reduce your word count and improve sentence flow.
(2) Sentences featuring pure verbal nouns could portray you as stuffy (bad) or authoritative (good). Employ them smartly to tune to your needs.
Generally, we place gender-specific nouns under category of a separate type of nouns that we use to define a male or female. Examples of gender specific noun are : king, vixen, actress etc.
A blonde is a woman. A blond is a man. Both words are also gender specific noun that are defining the gender.
Example: Queen Elizabeth II was fond of horse riding.