What is a Noun?

Hello, and welcome to this Mometrix video lesson on “What is a Noun?”. Simply put a noun is pretty much anything. Think of people, places, things, and ideas; each of these are nouns. Now, there are a few different categories that nouns can fall into. These categories are common and proper, concrete and abstract, and collective. Common nouns are nonspecific, whereas proper nouns are specific and must be capitalized. Concrete nouns are nouns that can be observed with any one of the five senses-sight, sound, taste, touch, smell-and abstract nouns are merely unobservable ideas. I have created a few sentences for us to look at that contain examples of each of these concepts.

Sarah Snake and Chester Cheetah live at the zoo.

Together, they have big dreams of escaping to the aquarium district.

When they get there, they want to see the exotic schools of fish.

Let’s look at this example sentence by sentence.

Sarah Snake and Chester Cheetah live at the zoo.

Our nouns for this sentence are:

  • Sarah Snake — Person, Proper noun
  • Chester Cheetah — Person, Proper noun
  • Zoo — Thing, Common noun

Sarah Snake and Chester Cheetah are people, and because they are people, they are also proper nouns. The zoo is a thing, and by itself, it is a common noun. If I were to give a more specific example like the Chicago Zoo, then it would be a proper noun.

Our next sentence is:

Together, they have big dreams of escaping to the aquarium district.

The nouns in this sentence are:

  • Dreams — Idea, Abstract
  • District — Thing, Common noun

Dream is an idea. Ideas are abstract nouns because they cannot be physically observed with any of the five senses. The district is a thing and a common noun.

Let’s break down the last sentence.

When they get there, they want to see the exotic schools of fish.

The noun in this sentence is:

    • Schools of fish — Thing, Collective

The noun schools is a thing and is also a collective noun. Schools is collective because it refers to a group of fish rather than an individual.

When talking about nouns, we definitely need to familiarize ourselves with pronouns. Have you heard of pronouns before?

In the simplest of terms, pronouns are he, she, I, they, it, him, her, we, us, etc. There are so many that exist. In the example sentences one and two, the pronoun they is used several times to replace the names Sarah Snake and Chester Cheetah. By using pronouns to replace our main nouns, we can reduce repetition in our sentences and ease readability.

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by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: September 6, 2021