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NOUN

NOUN A PART OF SPEECH or WORD CLASS typically used in a variety of sentence functions such as subject and object, generally in combination with the definite or indefinite article and modifiers and traditionally regarded as ‘naming’ or identifying persons and things.

Form

In English, many especially monosyllabic nouns cannot formally be identified as such (woman, girl, dog, cat, king, war), whereas in some languages, such as LATIN, they have distinctive endings (femina, puella; canis, faelis; bellum). Many polysyllabic nouns, however, are identifiable by suffixes used to derive nouns from other nouns or from verbs and adjectives: -ing (farming, swimming); -er (dancer, writer); -ation (association, organization); -ity (morality, reality); -ness (darkness, kindness); -ism (humanism, racism), -ist (rationalist, socialist).

Function

In a noun phrase, a noun functions as the main or only word which can be subject (‘The crew boarded the vessel’), direct object (‘They will clean up the waste’), indirect object (‘I told the committee my views’), subject complement (‘One fascinating discovery was a musket’), object complement (‘Everybody thought her the best candidate’), adverbial (‘We saw them last night’), complement of a preposition (‘We did it for Tony’); modifier of another noun (‘income tax’).

Subclasses

There are a number of grammatical and semantic subclasses of nouns: common or proper (Jane, Jeremy); animate (child) or inanimate (pencil); abstract (opinion) or concrete (glass), countable (student) or uncountable (information). In the sentence Pick up the book, the noun book is common, inanimate, concrete, and countable. In the sentence Barbara came too, the noun Barbara is proper, animate, concrete, and in this instance uncountable. A noun may have one feature in one context and the opposite feature in another: glass is countable in Have another glass of orange juice, uncountable in That dish is made of cut glass.

Number

Countable nouns make a distinction between singular and plural in number. The distinction is generally indicated by a difference between singular and plural forms (cat/cats, sample/samples, phenomenon/phenomena).

Gender

English does not have GENDER classes of nouns as in Latin and GERMAN, but some nouns have male and female reference: father, boy; mother, girl. There are some pairs of nouns one of which has a suffix marking a male/female contrast: host/hostess, hero/heroine, usher/usherette; widow/widower. The gender reference of human nouns becomes manifest when he or she relates to the noun: My neighbour said she/he wanted to speak to you. Non-human animate nouns (and nouns relating to young children, depending on the circumstances) allow male, female, or non-sexual reference: Don't touch the dog; he/she/it has fleas.

Case

Old English had, like Latin, a complex CASE system for its nouns. Modern English, however, only makes two case distinctions: common case (Tom) and genitive case (Tom's). For regular plurals, the distinction is found only in punctuation, but not in pronunciation: students/students' (contrast men and men's).

See ABSTRACT AND CONCRETE, ANIMATE NOUN, COMMON NOUN, COUNTABLE AND UNCOUNTABLE, NAME, NUMBER, OLD ENGLISH, PROPER NOUN, SUBSTANTIVE.

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noun

noun [Lat.,=name], in English, part of speech of vast semantic range. It can be used to name a person, place, thing, idea, or time. It generally functions as subject, object, or indirect object of the verb in the sentence, and may be distinguished by a number of formal criteria. A noun may be recognized by inflection (e.g., -'s and -s) or by derivation (e.g., -ness, -ity, and -tion). Most languages have a major form class composed of words referring to persons, animals, and objects; but the Latin type of noun declension, with its case system, is unusual outside a few families of languages.

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noun

noun / noun/ • n. Gram. a word (other than a pronoun) used to identify any of a class of people, places, or things (common noun) , or to name a particular one of these (proper noun) . DERIVATIVES: noun·al / ˈnounəl/ adj. ORIGIN: late Middle English: from Anglo-Norman French, from Latin nomen ‘name.’

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noun

noun Member of a linguistic class or category consisting of words that serve to name a person, place, thing, or concept. In traditional grammar, nouns form one of the so-called parts of speech. Modern linguistics experts, however, tend to define them in terms of their grammatical function.

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noun

noun XIV. — AN. noun = OF. nun, num (mod. nom):- L. nōmen NAME.

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noun

nounbrown, Browne, clown, crown, down, downtown, drown, frown, gown, low-down, noun, renown, run-down, town, upside-down, uptown •crackdown • clampdown • Ashdown •markdown • letdown • meltdown •breakdown, shakedown, takedown •kick-down • thistledown • sit-down •climbdown • countdown •Southdown •godown, hoedown, showdown, slowdown •put-down • touchdown • tumbledown •comedown •rundown, sundown •shutdown • eiderdown • nightgown •pronoun • Jamestown • Freetown •midtown • Bridgetown • Kingstown •shanty town • Georgetown • Motown •hometown • toytown • Newtown •Charlottetown • Chinatown

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