What is a Noun?

A noun is a word that names a person, animal, place, thing, idea, or concept. There are more nouns in the English Language than any other kind of words.

Noun Quizzes and Lists
English Irregular Nouns List
Irregular Nouns spelling Quiz
Abstract and Concrete Nouns
Proper and Common Nouns
Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Noun lists that follow each category are only partial ones.

Noun examples

Persons: 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

Singular and Plural Nouns
Singular means one of something. Plural means more than one.

Formation of Plural Nouns
You can make most nouns plural by just adding -s
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.
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.
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.
army – armies
supply - supplies
sky - skies

Nouns ending in -ff become plural by adding -s
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
knife - knives
wife - wives
half - halves
leaf - leaves
Other nouns ending in -f or -fe become plural by only adding -s
belief - beliefs
proof - proofs
chief - chiefs

Common and Proper Nouns

A common noun names any regular, ordinary person, animal, place, thing, or idea. Nothing specific.
A proper noun names a very specific, very particular person, animal, place, thing, or idea.
A proper noun always begins with capital letter (is capitalized).
  List of examples

Common Noun  Proper Noun 
riverMississippi River
holidayFourth of July
composerLudwig van Beethoven

Concrete and Abstract Nouns

A concrete noun names a person, animal, place, or thing that you can actually see, touch, taste, hear, or smell.
List of concrete nouns: spaghetti, muffins, perfume, water, book, room, pen, composer, boy, car
An abstract noun names an idea, feeling, emotion, or quality that cannot be detected by your five senses.
List of abstract nouns: prettiness, pleasure, annoyance, skill, nature, communication, love, velocity, education

Collective Nouns

A collective noun names a group of people, animals or things.
  Sample noun lists.
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

Compound nouns

A compound noun is made up of two or more words used together.
  Compound nouns can be
One word: shoelace, keyboard, flashlight, applesauce, notebook, bedroom
Hyphenated: sky-scraper, boy-friend, baby-sitter, editor-in-chief, great-grandfather
Two words: police officer, seat belt, high school, word processor, post office

The Functions of Nouns in Sentences
1. Subject of the sentence
The subject of the sentence tells us what the sentence is about.

The lonely wolf howled at the moon.
Grammar is a difficult subject.
Pencils always break before a test.

2. Predicate Noun (also Predicate Nominative or Subjective Complement)
A 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.

In the following examples, subject is underlined and Predicate Noun shown in color.
My friend is a doctor.
Mike will become the president of the company.
The horse has been a powerful symbol in nearly every culture and every age.

3. Appositive (noun in apposition)
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 (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).

In the following examples,, appositives shown in color and the nouns they modify is underlined.

Moscow, the capital of Russia, is a crowded city.
Peter’s father, Mr. Smith, helped me with my homework.
My brother, Sasha, is the best person in a world.
Peter’s sister Sandy left the room.

Appositives in the first three sentences are nonrestrictive. They are not essential to the meaning of the sentence. Peter has only one father and I have only one brother. 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.

4. Direct object of a verb
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.

In the following examples, verbs are underlined and Direct objects are shown in color.
I can hardly see the street.         see what? - the street
The hurricane shattered our cities and villages.         shattered what? - our cities and villages
I placed all students on a waiting list.         placed whom? - all students
Tom and Jerry ate the entire cake.         ate what? - the cake

In the following example, nothing answers [what?] or [whom?] question so it does not have direct object.
Tom and Jerry ate fast.         ate what? - ? ? ?

5. Indirect object of a verb
The indirect object receives the action of the verb indirectly and it always 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.

In the following examples, direct objects are underlined, the indirect objects are shown in color and imaginary [to] or [for] are placed in brackets.
She baked [for] Mr. Smith a pie.
Should I buy [for] my daughter a bicycle?
Save [for] me a seat at the concert.
The teacher told [to] the girls a story.

List of verbs that usually are followed by indirect objects: give, buy, throw, show, award, lend, save, bake, make, tell, and send

6. 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.

In the following examples, the noun objects appearing in prepositional phrases are shown in color.
in the wrong mood
beneath the sea
near the raging volcano
above the trees and houses

Note that objects of prepositions can have modifiers (raging volcano, wrong mood) or be compound (trees and houses)

7. Object Complement (Objective Complement)
An object complement is a noun that completes or adds to the meaning of the direct object.
Objective complements usually follow the noun (or nouns) they modify and used when the direct object would not make complete sense by itself.

The country elected Mr. Smith president.
My sister called the salesperson charlatan and a fraud.
She considered the car a lemon.

In the first sentence object complement president adds information central to the meaning of the sentence.
In the second and third sentences object complements are necessary to make the sentences grammatically correct/complete.

Nouns Links

Noun - from Wikipedia. Case, number, gender, classification of nouns, nouns and pronouns
Nouns from The Internet Grammar of English. Lots of info and quizzes.