Nouns can be classified according to what they refer to.
Types of noun - Easy Learning Grammar
- Nouns that are really names are called proper nouns. Proper nouns usually refer to a particular named person or thing.
- the names of specific people.
|Anna Dickinson||John Lennon|
|Lucy White||Mrs Merton|
- geographical items.
|Covent Garden||Balcombe Road|
- days of the week, months, and annual Church festivals.
- patented goods and trade names.
- newspaper and magazine titles.
|The New Scientist||Time Out|
- shop, cinema and theatre names, buildings.
|The Odeon||New Look|
|The Royal Mews||Nationwide|
- titles (the polite or professional labels that we give to people).
A person’s title is usually placed before his or her name. Proper nouns and titles are always written with an initial capital letter.
Doctor Johnson Sir George Hardie Professor James President Hollande
- All the other nouns that refer to things or species are called common nouns.
- I put the tennis balls in that basket there.
- My brother and sister visited my mother.
- The anger that John felt was overwhelming.
- a herd of cows
- a swarm of bees
- whether or not the noun gives us information about singular and plural number.
- the other words that can be used in the same noun phrase.
- Dogs ran wild in the streets.
- The dog is loose again.
- Fetch a chair for Maddy, will you?
- We’ve bought six new chairs.
- things that are not normally thought of as countable.
- John asked me for some advice.
- Anna gave us some more information about her work.
- Homework occupied much of Sonia’s evening.
- qualities or abstract ideas.
- Our knowledge of outer space is increasing daily.
- Trevor gave evidence at the trial.
- Anger is a normal human emotion.
- He bought seven sheets of cardboard.
- Let me give you a piece of advice.
- Verbal nouns (Verbal nouns), which are formed from the present participle of verbs, can also be used as uncountable nouns.
- Why don’t you try walking to work?
- Brian was told to stop smoking.
- The ringing in his ears continued.
Note that nouns that are uncountable in English may be countable in other languages. See Types of noun.
Mass nounsThese are nouns that refer to a substance that can be divided or measured but not counted, e.g. sugar, water. They do not usually have an indefinite article in front.
- Meat is usually more expensive than cheese.
- Sugar is quite cheap.
- a particular type or types of the substance.
- There was a buffet of bread and rolls, cheese, cold meats and tea or coffee.
- Ros brought out a tempting selection of French cheeses.
- The principal sugars are glucose, sucrose, and fructose.
- a serving of the substance.
- Two teas, please.
- He went up to the bar and ordered two lagers.
- Mass nouns are often used together with a partitive noun.
- There are only two pieces of furniture in the room.
- There are three portions of meat in this special pack.
- Five pints of lager, please.
Partitive nounsPartitive nouns are commonly followed by of. They are used when we need to talk about a part of a mass noun or when we need to count the quantity of something that is referred to by an uncountable noun or a mass noun, especially when it is necessary to talk about:
- measurements and quantities with mass nouns.
|three pieces of toast||a slice of cheese|
|a bit of fluff||two spoonfuls of sugar|
- individual items with uncountable nouns.
- Two pieces of furniture needed major repairs.
- We needed several lengths of string.
- a collection of countable nouns.
- The road was blocked by a flock of sheep.
- He has a small herd of dairy cows.
- There was a crowd of football supporters on the bus.
- A couple of cats were fighting.
Many collective nouns can be used as partitive nouns. See Types of noun.
Nouns that have both countable and uncountable usesMost nouns are either countable nouns or uncountable nouns, as explained on Types of noun. Some nouns, however, behave like countable nouns in some sentences and uncountable nouns in other sentences. They usually have different meanings depending on how they are used. For example time, light, history, space, laugh, and grocery have more than one meaning.
- Time passed slowly.
- She did it four times.
- Light travels faster than sound.
- The lights in this room are too bright.
- The rocket was launched into space.
- There are plenty of empty spaces on the shelves.
- He received all the necessary information.
- I don’t need your help.
- These trousers need cleaning.
- Put the scissors back when you have finished with them.
- I need a pair of pliers.
- Liz gathered up a bundle of clothes.