What is a Noun?

A noun is a word that names a person, animal, place, thing, idea, or concept. Everything we see or talk about is represented by a word that names it. There are more nouns in the English Language than any other kind of words.

Noun is one of the parts of speech.

Noun Examples

People: girl, boy, instructor, student, Mr. Smith, Peter, president

Animals: dog, cat, shark, hamster, fish, bear, flea

Places: gym, store, school, Lake Minnetonka, Minnesota, village, Europe

Things: computer, pen, notebook, mailbox, bush, tree, cornflakes

Ideas: liberty, panic, attention, knowledge, compassion, worship

The Types of nouns

There are several types of nouns. These include: Abstract Nouns, Concrete Nouns, Proper Nouns, Common Nouns, Countable Nouns, Uncountable Nouns, Collective Nouns, Compound Nouns. A word can be more than one type of a noun.

Gerunds are formed from verbs that ending in -ing. They are also a type of a noun.

The Functions of nouns in sentences

Nouns perform following grammatical functions within sentences in the English language: Subject, Subject Complement, Direct Object, Object Complement, Indirect Object, Appositive, Object of the Preposition

Singular and Plural Nouns

Formation of Plural Nouns, Irregular Nouns

Proper vs Common Nouns

A Common Noun names any regular, ordinary person, animal, place, thing, or idea. Nothing specific.

Common Noun Examples: superhero, river, holiday, religion, month, day, city, composer, boy, car, language, phone

A Proper Noun names a very specific, very particular person, animal, place, thing, or idea. It always begins with capital letter (unless it is a brand name like eBay or iPad).

Proper Noun Examples: Batman, Mississippi River, Fourth of July, Buddhism, December, Monday, London, Ludwig van Beethoven, Peter, Volvo, Spanish, iPhone

Practice. Proper vs Common Nouns - Definition, Examples, Quiz. Identify if noun is Proper or Common.

Abstract vs Concrete Nouns

A Concrete Noun names a person, animal, place, or thing that you can actually see, touch, taste, hear, or smell.

Concrete Noun Examples: muffins, perfume, book, room, pen, composer, boy, car

An Abstract Noun names an idea, feeling, emotion, or quality that cannot be detected by your five senses.

Abstract Noun Examples: prettiness, pleasure, annoyance, skill, nature, communication, love, velocity, education

Practice. Abstract vs Concrete Nouns - Definition, Examples, Quiz. Identify if noun is Abstract or Concrete.

Countable vs Uncountable Nouns

Uncountable Nouns (or mass nouns) are nouns which cannot be counted. Generally, uncountable nouns do not have a plural form.

Uncountable Noun Examples: music, time, space, travel, fun, happiness, art, sleep, currency, food, love

Countable Nouns are those that refer to something that we can count. Countable nouns can be singular or plural.

Countable Noun Examples: song, hour, bottles, book, journey, countries, car, student, pen, meal, dollar

Practice. Countable vs Uncountable Nouns - Definition, Examples, Quiz. Identify if noun is Uncountable or Countable.

Collective Nouns

A Collective Noun names a group of specific things, animals or people with a singular form. It denotes such group as a single entity.

Collective nouns can be either singular or plural, depending on context.

Collective Noun Examples

People: audience, crowd, jury, family, group, nation, staff, cast, gang, team

Animals: flock, colony, swarm, gaggle, herd

Things: bunch, bundle, set, stack, cache, batch, bouquet

Practice. Collective Nouns - Definition, Examples, Quiz. Identify whether noun is Collective or not.

Compound nouns

A Compound Noun is made up of two or more words used together.

Compound noun can be written either as a single word, as two words or as a word with a hyphen

Compound Noun Examples

Single word: shoelace, keyboard, flashlight, applesauce, notebook, bedroom

Two words: police officer, seat belt, high school, word processor, post office

Hyphenated: sky-scraper, boy-friend, baby-sitter, editor-in-chief, great-grandfather


Gerund is a verb form ending in -ing (present participle) but that functions as a noun. Thus it can be in the position of subject, direct object, indirect objects and in any other place where noun could be used.

Gerund Examples

I enjoy running.
- running acts as a noun so it is a Gerund.

Running is good for you.
- running acts as a noun so it is a Gerund.

I look forward to running with you.
- running acts as a noun so it is a Gerund.

I am running.
- running acts as a verb so it is not a Gerund.

I see running girl.
- running acts as an adjective so it is not a Gerund.

Practice. Gerunds and Present Participles - Definition, Examples, Quiz. Identify if Present Participle acts as an adjective, a noun(Gerund) or a verb.

Noun as the Subject of a sentence

The Subject tells who or what a sentence is about. It is a word (phrase or clause) that is doing or being something.

Usually, a subject is followed by a verb. To find subject, ask the questions "Who?" or "What?" followed by that verb.

Subject Examples

The lonely wolf howled at the moon.
- Who howled?

Math is a difficult subject.
- What is a difficult subject?

Pencils always break before a test.
- What breaks?

Practice. Noun as Subject - Definition, Examples, Quiz. Identify the subject of a sentence.

Noun as Subject Complement

Subject Complement (also Predicate Nominative or Predicate Noun) comes after a linking verb (to be, to become, to remain) and is equivalent to the subject but renames it in different terms (gives more information about the subject, such as a condition or relationship).

For linking verbs explanation and samples see English Verbs

Subject Complement Examples

My friend is a doctor.

The tall boy has been our best player.

George Washington was the first president.

Practice. Subject Complement - Definition, Examples, Quiz. Identify Subject Complement in a sentence.

Noun as Direct Object

A Direct Object is a noun that receives the action of a verb.

To verify whether a sentence contains a direct object, place question "Whom?" or "What?" after the verb. If nothing answers these questions, you know that there is no direct object.

Only action verbs can have direct objects. A direct object will never follow a linking verb. For action vs linking verbs explanation and samples see English Verbs

Direct Object Examples

I can hardly see the street.
- See what? - the street

I placed all students on a waiting list.
- placed whom? - all students

Vanessa called the salesperson charlatan and a fraud.
- called whom? - the salesperson

Practice. Direct Object - Definition, Examples, Quiz. Identify Direct Object in a sentence.

Noun as Object Complement

An Object Complement(Objective complements) is a noun that completes or adds to the meaning of the direct object.

Object Complements usually follow the noun (or nouns) they modify and used when the direct object would not make complete sense by itself.

An Object Complement answers the question "What?" after Direct Object.

Object Complement Examples

The country elected Mr. Smith president.
- The country elected Mr. Smith what?

Mr. Smith appointed Mr. Brook Governor.
- Mr. Smith appointed Mr. Brook what?

My sister called the salesperson charlatan and a fraud.
- My sister called salesperson what?

Practice. Object Complement - Definition, Examples, Quiz. Identify Object Complement in a sentence.

Noun as Indirect Object

Indirect object receives the action of the verb indirectly and it comes before the direct object. Indirect Object shows for whom or for what the action was undertaken and is identified by imagining a [to] or [for] in front of it.

Indirect Object Examples

She baked Mr. Smith a pie.
- She baked [for] Mr. Smith a pie.

Save Mike a seat at the concert.
- Save [for] Mike at the concert.

My brother paid the mechanic 100 dollars.
- My brother paid [to] the mechanic 100 dollars.

Practice. Indirect Object - Definition, Examples, Quiz. Identify Indirect Object in a sentence.


An Appositive is a noun or phrase that comes after another noun (or pronoun), and identifies, explains or gives more information about that word.

If the Appositive is needed to identify the noun (called Restrictive Appositive) then no comma is used.

If the Appositive provides only additional, accompanying information about the noun – it is called Nonrestrictive Appositive and it should be set off from the rest of the sentence with commas (dashes, colons and parentheses can also be used).

Appositive Examples

Moscow, the capital of Russia, is a crowded city.

Mike’s father, Mr. Smith, helped me with my homework.

Peter’s sister Sandy left the room.

Appositives in the first two sentences are nonrestrictive. They are not essential to the meaning of the sentence. Moscow is the only capital of Russia and Mike has only one father. But, in the last sentence, since Peter has more than one sister, the name Sandy is necessary to identify which sister is being discussed. That is why punctuation is not used in last sentence. Looking from different perspective, since no punctuation surrounds the appositive Sandy, we know that Peter has more than one sister.

Practice. Appositive - Definition, Examples, Quiz. Identify Appositive in a sentence.

Object of the Preposition

A Preposition is a word that shows location, movement, or direction. Common prepositions are of, on, to, in, near, below, beneath, beside, over, across, with, by, for, and under.

A preposition is always followed by a noun (or pronoun) called the Object of the preposition.

Object of the Preposition Examples

This is one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.

Authorities have warned planes to avoid the airspace near the raging volcano.

I watch cars passing over the bridge, moving above the trees and houses.

Practice. Object of the Preposition - Definition, Examples, Quiz. Identify Object of the Preposition.

Singular and Plural Nouns

Most of English nouns are very predictable ( regular ) in the spelling of the plural form - they have plurals formed according to regular rules.

Formation of Plural Nouns

You can make most nouns plural by just adding -s
Examples: one tree - four trees, one boat – a river full of boats

If the noun ends with -s, -ch, -sh, -x, or -z, add -es to make it plural.
Examples: witness–witnesses, church – churches, dish– dishes, fox - foxes, buzz – buzzes

If the noun ends with -y and the letter before the -y is a vowel, add -s to make the noun plural.
Examples: boy–boys, bay – bays, key – keys, toy - toys

If the noun ends with -y and the letter before the -y is a consonant, change the -y to -i and add -es to make the noun plural.
Examples: army – armies, supply - supplies, sky - skies

Nouns ending in -ff become plural by adding -s
Examples: tariff - tariffs, sheriff - sheriffs, plaintiff - plaintiffs

The inconsistency of rules is shown in the plurals of nouns which ends in –f or -fe Some become plural by replacing the -f to -v and adding -s or -es
Examples: knife - knives, wife - wives, half - halves, leaf - leaves

Other nouns ending in -f or -fe become plural by only adding -s
Examples: belief - beliefs, proof - proofs, chief - chiefs

Irregular Nouns

There are several nouns, which are irregular in their spelling. These nouns are exceptions when it comes to making them plural. When irregular nouns become plural, their spelling changes in a different way or it may not change at all from singular form.

Here is the List of English Irregular Nouns - 106 nouns.

Irregular Nouns Spelling Test - Type both singular and plural forms for the given irregular noun.