Parts of Speech: Nouns

April 4, 2019

Native English Instructor

Written by Douglas Shaw

A noun is a word describing who or what in a sentence – it can be a person, place, or thing.


A “thing” can be – an animal, a device, a place, an object, an event, etc.

A noun is usually an essential part of any basic sentence.

It’s typically who or what the sentence is about, but other nouns are often also included in longer or more complex sentences.


  • The dog ran after the ball. – Both “dog” and “ball” are nouns. A noun may be solid (something you can see and touch), or may be abstract.


  • She possesses integrity.
  • He is searching for love.

In these examples “integrity” and “love” are abstract nouns (you cannot see or touch integrity and love, but feel them).

Proper nouns

There are the proper nouns which names a particular person, place, or thing. Remember, the first letter is always capitalized.


  • Jeff smiled.
  • Jeff smiled at Karen.
  • Pastor Dave performed the marriage ceremony.
  • Jeff and Karen will move to Hawaii.

Common nouns

Common nouns are not specific and don’t require capitalization.


  • dogs, cats, birds, smartphone, computer.
  • Hawaii is home to many different plants and animals.
  • In Hawaii there are many beautiful birds.

Abstract (Material) nouns

A material noun is a name for something which is tangible.


  • This computer has one terabyte of storage.

An abstract noun is a word for something that cannot be seen but is there. It has no physical existence. Generally, it refers to ideas, qualities, and conditions.

Truth, lies, happiness, sorrow, time, friendship, humor, patriotism, etc.


  • Truthfulness is a virtue that is rare nowadays.

Concrete nouns

concrete noun is the exact opposite of abstract noun. It refers to the things we see and have physical existence.


  • My office chair is broken.

Countable nouns

The nouns that can be counted are called countable nouns. Countable nouns can take an article: a, an, the.


  • I had a cat when I was younger.
  • I love to listen to songs when I work.

Uncountable nouns

The nouns that cannot be counted are called uncountable nouns.

Water, sugar, oil, salt, rice.


  • Do you drink coffee or tea in the morning?

Collective nouns

collective noun is a word for a group of things, people, or animals, etc.

family, team, students , fish, etc.

Collective nouns can be both plural and singular. However, Americans prefer to use collective nouns as singular, but both of the uses are correct in other parts of the world.


  • Everyone in the audience applauded loudly when Mariah Carey appeared on stage.

Compound nouns

Compound nouns are words for people, animals, places, things, or ideas, made up of two or more words. Most compound nouns are made with nouns that have been modified by adjectives or other nouns.

In many compound nouns, the first word describes or modifies the second word, giving us insight into what kind of thing an item is, or providing us with clues about the item’s purpose. The second word usually identifies the item.


  • Let’s watch the full moon come up over the mountain.
  • My son-in-law is a doctor.

Functions of Nouns

Nouns can be used as a subject, a direct object, and an indirect object of a verb; as an object of a preposition; and as an adverb or adjective in sentences. Nouns can also show possession.

Subject: The company is doing great. Roses are the flowers of love.

Direct object: I finally bought a new laptop.

Indirect object: I gave Louie another cookie.

Object of preposition: Roses are the flowers of love.

Adverb: The train leaves today.

Adjective: The office building faces the mall.

Possession: The lion’s cage is dangerous. My brother’s daughter is adorable.