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All You Need to Know About Grammar: Nouns!

Nouns name people, places and things, and we can’t have a sentence without them. It can sometimes be tricky to tell them apart from other word classes though, but that’s where determiners come in.

Let’s deal with nouns first…

If you can see or touch something, the word we use for it is a noun. Another way to identify nouns is to ask – can you count it? You can count some objects such as a pencil, a cat, or a bus, so these are nouns. There are some thingsyou can’t count, but you can have an amount of such as milk, money, petrol. We call all of these common nouns.

They also name things that can’t be seen. For example, emotions or personal qualities such as courage, suspicion, anger, imagination and intelligence. We call these types of words abstract nouns.

Names of specific people, places, days or months count too. These are easy to spot because they start with a capital letter – Tuesday, David, Manchester. We call these proper nouns.

And then there are nouns that name a collection of things such as shoal (of fish), class (of children), team (of players), herd (of sheep.) We call these collective nouns.

So far, so good. Now comes the tricky bit. Take the word water. Clearly, it names the wet stuff that comes from a tap. But is it always a noun?

Look at these two sentences:

I asked my neighbour if she could water the tomatoes for me.

My neighbour put plenty of water on the tomatoes.

Although the word water is the same in both sentences, is it only a noun in one of them. Once we have spotted what we think is the right word, how can we be sure? This is where we need to know determiners.

Written by Mim Barnes for This post originally appeared on the website. Propeller is a part of the Show-me brand.