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Nouns and Articles for English Grammar

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Aug 12, 2011

Review exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Nouns and Articles Review Exercises for English Grammar

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:

  1. 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
  2. When a noun ends in y preceded by a consonant, change the y to i and add es: harmony, harmonies; baby, babies; burglary, burglaries.
  3. 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.
  4. Certain nouns do not change in forming plurals: deer, goods, headquarters, scissors, species, etc.
  5. 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.
  6. 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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