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Rules of English Grammar - Nouns – The Name Game

Published on Thursday, October 16, 2014
What is a noun? A noun is any word that names a person, a place or a thing. Thus, Noun = name of person, place or a thing. Simple as that!

There are two broad types of nouns, namely countable (which can be counted) and uncountable noun (which cannot be counted).

A countable noun is again classified into Proper, Common and Collective nouns; whereas, Un-countable nouns are Material and Abstract nouns. Thus in total you’re going to learn about 5 different types of Nouns.

We begin with…

Types of Noun

Proper noun

Proper noun  is a unique name that we use for a person, a place or a thing.

Example: Ravi Kumar is a proper noun; it’s a name of a person.

Agra is a proper noun; it’s the name of a place.

Vacuum cleaner is a proper noun; it’s the name of a device which cleans by sucking dirt and dust.

Common noun

Common noun  is when the proper nouns are referred to as a group. For example Ravi, Shyam and Gopal are all men. Thus ‘men’ is a common noun.
You can understand the relation between proper and common noun through this table:
Proper Noun
Common Noun(singular)
Common Noun(plural)
Rekha (name of a person)
Amitabh(name of a person)
Canada (name of place)
Mumbai (name of place)
Two States (name of thing)

Collective noun

Collective noun is a special word, used to denote or represent a particular group of people or things. It is very important to know the difference between a common noun and a collective noun.

Through reading practice it becomes easier to identify collective nouns. The given table should help.

nProper noun
Common noun
Collective noun
Collective noun(plurals)
General V.K. Singh
Smt. Smriti Irani
PVR Cinema
Lionel Messi

I hope there will be no confusion between these three types of nouns, their plural and singular forms.

Material noun

Material noun is the name of a material or any substance. Like gold, cotton, calcium, mud, milk, tea, rain, cloud soap, rubber etc.

Abstract noun

Abstract noun is any name given to a feeling, an idea, or a quality. How do you remember this one? Easy, whatever we cannot touch is abstract.

Examples are love, hate, fear, anger, beauty, tiredness, death etc. Do you see what I mean? These above mentioned words depict a feeling, and as we all know feelings cannot be touched.

Feelings are intangible! (New word alert! Intangible is anything which cannot be touched. It’s opposite is tangible-something that can be touched!)

Rules of NOUNS:

1. Material nouns and Abstract nouns are never used in plural form.

Why? Because they are uncountable nouns. Anything which cannot be counted cannot be given a plural form! Thus uncountable nouns are always used in the singular form.

2. Articles (A/An/The) are not to be used before proper and material nouns. This is a very important rule, please do remember. Example: ‘The Mr. Dinesh Kumar’is wrong. So is ‘The bag is made of the leather.’

3.  Some collective nouns are always used in the plural form, like scissors, pants and spectacles.

While some are used in singular form, like Police (it is never Polices!), poultry and people!

All you people, please pay attention! ‘People’ is a collective noun, and it does not have a plural form. There is no such word as ‘peoples’!

4. When showing ownership, belonging or any relation to something – we use rules of possessive noun. Nothing to get worried about, it’s very simple!

All you have to do is add an {‘s} to the singular forms of proper, common, collective, material nouns!  Like Amit’s car. Or, Raman’s book. The Indian Army’s squad.

But there’s a catch! When a noun ends with an {s}, what do you do? Simply add the {‘} after the {s}. Example, Vikas’ car. Girls’ hostel

5. Now last rule and the easiest one – the singular and plural conversion.

 * Most of the words are changed to plurals by adding an {s} to the singular noun.
    Example : Cat becomes cats. Flower becomes flowers.

 *{es} is added to nouns ending with {s, z, x, sh and ch}.
    Example : Box becomes boxes. Church becomes Churches. Dish becomes dishes
    and so on.

I hope that Nouns are a bit more clear to you now. Next I’ll put up some easy rules regarding Pronouns, in this Rules of Grammar series.

Till then keep reading and keep loving English! 
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