We use nouns to talk about things. We use verbs to talk about actions. Pronouns, adjectives, modals, and all the other parts of grammar are things we can use to make our English sound better. But verbs and nouns are things we must use, so it is a good idea to use them properly. In this part we will look at some things to remember about nouns.
Ordinary nouns describe things which there are many of. Look around and you can see many ordinary nouns. Like your computer! But proper nouns describe things that are single (or single types).
For example: There are many rivers (ordinary noun), but only one River Thames (proper noun). Tara (proper noun) is a girl (ordinary noun).
In English proper nouns have capital letters, even if they are not at the beginning of the sentence.
For example: My friend Hans is from Weisbaden in Germany.
You can see that nationalities (German, English etc) are proper nouns. And the countries. (Germany, England). The days of the week, (Monday, Tuesday etc) are proper nouns, and so are the months of the year.
For example: An Italian went to Germany last Wednesday on an aeroplane.
Remember, every language has a different idea of proper nouns. If a word is a proper noun in your language, it might not be in English. Also English uses more proper nouns than some other European languages.
Plurals are easy - you just put "s" on the end of the word. One computer, two computers. No problem! er....yes, sometimes there is a problem. Sorry.
For example: Mr and Mrs Smith (remember English people use the same surname when they are married) are called "the Smiths", meaning the people in the Smith family. Mr and Mrs Thompson are "the Thompsons". And Mr and Mrs Jones? We can't say "the Joness!". So we say the Joneses, with an "es" on the end. We do this with the plural for all English words that end with "s".
For example: One miss, two misses. One kiss two kisses. One bus, two busses.
(Notice the "ss" in busses. We do that to show that the pronounciation is "bus" and not "buse".)
Pronunciation Remember that with plurals the "s" is pronounced more like "z" and the plural is pronounced more like "iz".
For example: "Bees" is pronounced "beez" and "busses" as "bussiz".
Some plurals are irregular. Sometimes we keep the German or Latin endings. So we say "one child" but "two children"; "bacterium" but "bacteria". A few words, like "sheep", and sometimes "fish" do not have a plural form. "Two sheep, many fish". Finally, words that end in "f" (but not "ff") or "fe" can have a plural of "- ves".
For example: knife/knives, wife/wives, hoof/hooves, but roof/roofs, cliff/cliffs.
Plural endings with "y"
Many words that end with a "y" do not keep the "y" when they become a plural. This is especially true when there is no other vowel in the word, or no vowel near the end if a longer word.
For example: one good try/two good tries; a good party/two good parties. But one day/two days; one holiday/two holidays.
You will find that the same rule is used when putting "s" on to verbs ending with "y" to make a third person present singular.
A possessive noun is usually connected to another noun, to show that the noun in the possessive "has" the other noun.
For example: "John's book", "Mary's mother", "Susan's school", "Michael's birthday".
When we use this form, we start with the possessive and then we put the other noun as the next word. But if we think that noun is more important that the person who "has" it, we can change the sentence to show it.
For example: "That school is Susan's."
(Notice that when we put the possessive in second place, we normally move it right to the end of the sentence.)
We can also put the possessive noun into a different place when we do not use the "'s" method of showing a possessive. Instead we use the "of (the)" construction. We often do it for longer possessives that it would be too hard to say using "'s".
For example: "The father of Tom and Jane" is better than "Tom and Jane's father'"; though English use the construction which they prefer at the moment of speaking. There is no rule to say which way is more correct.
Sometimes the "'s" method is not really possible. This is when the possessive has the "of the" construction.
For example: "The Queen of England" is better than "England's queen."; "A day of the week" is much better than a "week's day".
With plurals, there is already an "s" on the end of the word. But we do not want to write possessives with "s's" on the end. It is a waste of one "s" and it makes pronounciation more difficult. So we just put the apostrophe after the "s" instead of before.
For example: The nurses' home (more than one nurse lives there)/ The nurse's home (one nurse lives there.) : The computer's keyboard (one computer, one keyboard)/The computers' keyboards (more than one computer, more than one keyboard).
So, do you think you understand nouns? Ok then - here are some exercises for you! Click the blue triangle.
Countries and nationalities