Lesson 2: Nouns
©MM Pollard, June, 2013
The noun is the second part of speech you interview. So, you are sitting across from the NOUN. You ask questions and it answers them. There are lots of definitions. DoI expect you to memorize them all? Of course not. This lesson and future workshops will be easier if you familiarize yourself with these terms. Iím sure that your low-level assistant Ė the print-out of this lesson Ė can keep you straight. Remember, today we talk about nouns, just nouns.
WonderfulĖ I love students with a positive, can-do attitude!
1.What is a noun?
The name of a person, place, thing, emotion, or idea
2.How arenouns categorized?
Common or proper
Concrete or abstract
Singular or plural
Count or non-count
3.What is acommon noun?
The name of any person, place, thing, or emotion, a general term, not specific
Girl, boy, cat, dog, sky, love, building, place, park
When you read, ďThe girl kissed the boy,Ē you might picture a five-year old kissing her baby brother in the cheek. Your friend might picture a fifteen-year-old kissing her twenty-year old boyfriend.
Thereason for the two very different pictures is that girl and boy are general,not specific. The writer could be referring to any girl and any boy.
4.What is aproper noun?
The nameof a specific person, place, or thing that is capitalized to give it a bit moreimportance in the sentence. Notice that I have left out emotion and idea here.We donít capitalize emotions, even when we refer to the specific ones, like love and hate. Ideas are expressed in phrases or clauses, so we donít capitalize them either.
Examples of proper nouns:
Madonna, Richard Gere, Simba, Lassie, Empire StateBuilding, Millennium Park, MM, Antonio Banderas
Letís look at another sentence, this one with proper nouns.
MM kissed Antonio Banderas. (I can dream, right?!)
Here I replaced the common nouns girl and boy with proper nouns. Now the sentenceis definitely more specific, even if it is just a fantasy of mine. Feel free to replace MM and Antonio Banderas with proper nouns of your own choice, if youíd like.
5.What is a concrete noun?
The nameof anything you can see and/or touch, something you can draw a picture of. Becareful Ė I donít mean something you can draw a symbol of. A simple drawing of a red heart with an arrow through it may symbolize love, but love isnít concrete. A red heart with an arrow through it is concrete.
Understand? You can see the symbol, but not the actual thing the symbol stands for.
Examples of concrete nouns:
Car, ball, house, grass, rain, road
6.What is an abstract noun?
The name of something that canít be seen or touched, the opposite of concrete nouns. You might have a symbol of the thing, but it isnít the thing. Touched doesnít mean the same thing as felt. I can feel love, but I canít touch love. See the difference.
Examples of abstract nouns:
Love, freedom, energy, determination, bravery, democracy
Instead of using abstract nouns in your writing, you should give a concrete descriptionof the abstract noun.
Example using bravery:
Abstract: Jeremy surprised me with his bravery in the face of certain death.
Concrete: Jeremy pushed me out of the way of the car coming toward us. He surprised me by his fast, decisive action. He saved my life.
Doesnít that say Jeremy was brave in concrete terms?
7.What is a singular noun?
One of something
Girl, ball, child, man, foot, dog, box
8.What is a plural noun?
More than one of something
Girls, balls, children, men, feet, dogs, boxes
Englishforms the plurals of most nouns by adding /s/or /es/. Some nouns change their form, like child Ė children.
Time for MMís pet peeve: Plurals of nouns do not include apostrophes!
9.What is a count noun?
Somethingyou can count
One house Ė two houses; one building Ė two buildings; one student Ė two students
10.What is a non-count noun?
Something you canít count
Milk, sugar, flour, selfishness, prosperity
These nouns can spell trouble in subject-verb agreement. More on that in Lesson 3.
Let me give you an example of the first three examples of non-count nouns Ė milk, sugar, flour.
You can have two glasses of milk with supper.
You can use one teaspoon of sugar in your tea.
You can use three cups of flour for the cake.
You canít have two milks.
You canít have one sugar.
You canít have three flours ĖUNLESS you mean three flowers.
And peoplesay that learning to spell isnít important now that we have spell check on ourcomputers. I beg to differ!!!
11.Collective nouns -- another category of nouns that can create subject-verb disagreement Ėmore on that later.
Nouns that refer to a group acting as one are called collective nouns. Collective nouns require a singular verb.
These nouns can also refer to the group members as separate individuals. In this case, the noun is not collective. In this use, the noun requires a plural verb.
Collective: The firefighting team uses helicopters to fight theraging fires. The team as one unit to fight fires.
Plural: This team take vacations when fire season is over. The team take vacation Ė not as a group, but as individual members.
12.You have given me several different categories of Nouns. Why does a writer need to know all of them?
Subject Ė Verb Agreement. Iíll give you simple examples, ones that probably all writers already know.
I rob the bank, but John robs the train.
We go to the mall, but she goes to the grocery store.
Mary and Fred manage the restaurant, but Joyce manages the store.
You enter the contest, but heenters the contest.
See that /s/ and /es/? Thatís an easy example of subject Ė verb agreement.
Singular third person subject add -s or Ėes on the verb in the present tense.
You have to know what singular means to understand this rule.
Wow, what an interview. You have gained so muchinformation on nouns and some insights into subject Ė verb agreement.
Now you try it.
Go to http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/noun_exercise2.htm. Answer the questions on this page based on the painting on the same page. If your eyes are old like mine,youíll want to enlarge the painting. Only then did I see the sheep (thatís a hint). This homework is due Wednesday, midnight, PDT.
The directions below are also on this page. I have made a note or two here.
The first exercise is on concrete and singular nouns. List 8 singular concrete nouns yousee in the painting. Worth 8 points.
The second exercise is on plural nouns. List 8 plural nouns you see in thepainting. Make sure to answer the questions on how you formed the plurals in the paragraph under the second groupof windows. Worth 16 points Ė one point for each plural noun you list andanother point for telling how you made the word plural.
The third exercise is on non-count nouns and abstract nouns. List 4 non-count and/or abstract nouns in the picture. It helps to think of yourself as living on the land that is painted in the picture. Worth 4 points.
The fourth exercise is on collective nouns. Give one in the picture. Worth 1 point.
The fifth exercise is on proper nouns. Give one in the picture. This one is tricky. It helps to know Greek mythology. Worth 1 point.
When you answer each question,check your answers. Write down the number you get right. When you have finished all of the questions, total your number of points you earned for correct answers. The possible correct is 30. Post your number correct over 30 on Lesson2 homework and question thread.