Nouns and Articles for English Grammar
Review exercises for this study guide can be found at:
Types of Nouns
Nouns are classified as proper nouns or common nouns.
A proper noun is the name of a specific person, place, or thing:
- Michelangelo is universally admired.
- She was a Democrat in her youth.
- Oh, to be in England!
- Lincoln Center attracts many visitors to New York City.
A common noun is the name used for any unspecified member of a class of persons, places, things, qualities, or concepts:
- Sculptors and painters work hard for recognition.
- We all admire the work of fine novelists.
- The city was known for its ugly architecture.
- Oh, to be in a faraway land.
- Steep mountains challenge experienced hikers.
- The museum exhibited only some of its treasures.
- He flirted briefly with a career in politics in his youth.
Proper nouns are capitalized; common nouns are not, unless they are the first word in a sentence.
Plural Forms of Nouns
Most nouns form their plurals by adding s to the singular: time, times; girl, girls; home, homes; bear, bears.
There are exceptions to this practice:
- Add es when a noun
- ends in s: kindness, kindnesses; lens, lenses
- ends in z: fez, fezzes; quiz, quizzes (note the doubling of z)
- ends in sh: hash, hashes; flash, flashes
- ends in ch: lunch, lunches; bunch, bunches
- ends in x: mix, mixes; box, boxes
- When a noun ends in y preceded by a consonant, change the y to i and add es: harmony, harmonies; baby, babies; burglary, burglaries.
- For certain nouns taken directly from foreign languages, form the plural as it is formed in those languages: alumnus, alumni; alumna, alumnae; erratum, errata; stimulus, stimuli; phenomenon, phenomena. There is a tendency to drop this practice and use the letter s to form plurals of words taken directly from foreign languages. Thus, the plural of memorandum is now more often memorandums than memoranda. A current dictionary will be useful in deciding questions of pluralization.
- Certain nouns do not change in forming plurals: deer, goods, headquarters, scissors, species, etc.
- Certain nouns that have come down from Anglo-Saxon retain their Anglo-Saxon plurals: foot, feet; tooth, teeth; woman, women; man, men; child, children; ox, oxen; etc.
- Certain nouns ending in o form the plural by adding s: radios, cameos, videos. Others add es: potatoes, tomatoes. Still others allow both s and es. Check your dictionary.
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