Nouns are one of the most basic building blocks of languages. In fact, you can make a sentence out of just a noun and a verb! Even though nouns may seem basic, many things can be done with them.

Nouns are usually used to represent a person, place, thing (living or non-living), idea, or activity. Nouns can be singular, as in "cat" or plural "cats". Note that sometimes the plural form of a noun will be the same as the singular form, such as "fish" or "sheep".

Roles of nouns in sentences:

  • Subject
    • For example, in "Peter tossed..."
    • This sentence has a subject (Peter), who is doing the action (tossing).
  • Direct object
    • For example, in "Peter tossed an orange..."
    • The direct object is what is being acted upon; in our case, it is the orange being tossed.
  • Indirect object
    • For example, in "Peter tossed an orange to James."
    • The indirect object is to whom or for whom the action is being done. In this case, the indirect object is James.
  • Possessive noun adjective
    • For example, in "Peter's orange sailed through the air."
    • In this case, the possessive noun (Peter's) is acting like an adjective towards orange.
  • Object of preposition
    • For example, in "They ran away from the dragon."
    • In this case, dragon is an object for the preposition from.
  • Predicate nominative
    • For example, in "Robinson is a sailor."
    • Sailor indicates what Robinson is. A linking verb (is) forms the predicate with sailor.
  • Object complement
    • For example, in "The general promoted him to a sergeant."
    • In this sentence, sergeant is the object complement to the direct object him.
  • Direct address
    • For example, in "What's up, Bob?"
    • A direct address noun is always a proper noun (the name of the person being addressed). It is also set apart from the rest of the sentence with commas.

Classes of nouns in sentences:

  • Proper:
    • Bob, Atlantic, Pikes Peak, Mississippi, Romania, Subaru Impreza, etc.
  • Common:
    • man, ocean, mountain, river, country, car, etc.
  • Concrete:
    • mouse, book, sofa, etc.
  • Abstract:
    • love, hatred, joy, etc.
  • Count (have singular and plural versions):
    • mother(s), chair(s), table(s), painting(s)
  • Noncount (only have singular form):
    • milk, water, air, money, sheep
  • Collective
    • army, council, company, church, crew