The Practical Guide: What is a Noun?

Nouns form the solid base of a sentence. As taught in the education system, nouns are a “person, place, or thing”: they name people, places, and things so that we can identify them. The fun part about nouns is that you can really play around with them. You can be as detailed or as vague as you like when it comes to naming and identification.

There are four basic kinds of nouns that we use (we won’t get into pronouns and countable nouns and such just yet):

1. Proper nouns: these are capitalized names, identifying the noun as something specific. It may be the name of a person (Sagan), a country (Canada), a day of the week (Tuesday), or the name of a blog (Living Rhetorically in the Real World).

2. Common nouns: these are everyday, general terms that we use on a regular basis. Blog, computer, bike, and condo are all examples of common nouns.

3. Abstract nouns: these involve ideas or theoretical notions that are not physically tangible. Emotions (happy), states of being (peace), and other philosophies and concepts are included in this category.

4. Collective nouns: these include entities and groups. Teams, armies, and organizations refer to collective nouns.

Make it even easier:

Proper nouns and common nouns are opposites- now you have nearly half as much information to remember!

So why use it?

If we didn’t make use of nouns, we would be unable to convey information in a precise manner. Identification and detail rely heavily on nouns. Primitive conversation is often achieved by exchanging nouns with one another; when we travel to foreign countries and are dealing with a language unknown to us, we tend to learn a handful of nouns so that we can communicate quickly and (somewhat) effectively. If you bark “hospital!” at someone, they’ll likely understand that someone is in dire need of health care. Similarly, children are often taught nouns when they are learning how to read. Pictures associated with “dog”, “house”, and “apple” assists in early childhood learning. Nouns, therefore, are essential to basic communication.

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