Sunday, October 20, 2019
Types of Nouns and Their Forms, Functions, and Meanings
Types of Nouns and Their Forms, Functions, and Meanings InÃ The Teachers Grammar BookÃ (2005), James Williams admits that defining the termÃ nounÃ is such a problem that manyÃ grammarÃ books do not even try to do it. Interestingly, however, one of the founders ofÃ cognitive linguisticsÃ has settled on a familiar definition: In elementary school, I was taught that a noun is the name of a person, place, or thing. In college, I was taught the basic linguistic doctrine that a noun can only be defined in terms of grammatical behavior, conceptual definitions of grammatical classes being impossible. Here, several decades later, I demonstrate the inexorable progress of grammatical theory by claiming that a noun is the name of a thing. -Ronald W. Langacker,Ã Cognitive Grammar: A Basic Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2008 Professor Langacker notes that his definition ofÃ thingÃ subsumes people and places as special cases and is not limited to physical entities. Its probably impossible to come up with a universally accepted definition ofÃ a noun. Like many other terms in linguistics, its meaning depends onÃ contextÃ and use as well as the theoretical biases of the person doing the defining. So rather than wrestle with competing definitions, lets just briefly consider some of the conventional categories of nouns- or more precisely, some of the different ways of grouping nouns in terms of their (often overlapping) forms, functions, and meanings. For additional examples and more detailed explanations of these slippery categories, consult the resources in the Glossary of Grammatical and Rhetorical Terms, covering topics like the possessive case and pluralizing nouns. Abstract NounsÃ andÃ Concrete Nouns AnÃ abstract nounÃ is a noun that names an idea, quality, or concept (courageÃ andÃ freedom, for example). AÃ concrete nounÃ is a noun that names a material or tangible object- something recognizable through the senses (such asÃ chickenÃ andÃ egg). But this apparently simple distinction can get tricky. Lobeck and Denham point out that the classification of a noun can change depending on how that noun is used and what its referring to in the real world. WhenÃ homeworkÃ refers to the idea of schoolwork that will be completed over time, it seems more abstract, but when it refers to an actual document that you submit for a class, it seems concrete. -Navigating English Grammar, 2014. Attributive Nouns AnÃ attributive nounÃ is a noun that serves as an adjective in front of another nounsuch as nurseryÃ school and birthdayÃ party. Because so many nouns can serve as adjective equivalents, its more accurate to regardÃ attributiveÃ as a function than as a type. The clustering of nouns in front of another noun is sometimes calledÃ stacking. Collective Nouns AÃ collective nounÃ is a noun that refers to a group of individuals- such asÃ team, committee, andÃ family. Either a singular or a plural pronoun can stand in for a collective noun, depending on whether the group is regarded as a single unit or as a collection of individuals. (SeeÃ Pronoun Agreement.) Common NounsÃ andÃ Proper Nouns AÃ common nounÃ is a noun thats not the name of any particular person, place, or thing (for instance,Ã singer,Ã river, andÃ tablet). AÃ proper nounÃ is a noun that refers to a specific person, place, or thing (Lady Gaga,Ã Monongahela River, andÃ iPad).Most proper nouns are singular, and- with a few exceptions (iPad)- theyre usually written with initial capital letters. When proper nouns are used generically (as in keeping up with theÃ Joneses or aÃ xeroxÃ of my term paper), they become, in a sense, common- and in some cases subject to lawsuits. (SeeÃ Generification.) Count NounsÃ andÃ Mass Nouns AÃ count nounÃ is a noun that has both singular and plural forms- likeÃ dog(s) andÃ dollar(s). AÃ mass nounÃ (also called aÃ noncount noun) is a noun thats generally used only in the singular and cant be counted- musicÃ andÃ knowledge, for instance.Some nouns have both countable and non-countable uses, such as the countable dozenÃ eggs and the non-countable eggÃ on his face. Denominal Nouns AÃ denominal nounÃ is a noun thats formed from another noun, usually by adding a suffix- such asÃ guitaristÃ andÃ spoonful. But dont count on consistency. While aÃ librarianÃ usually works in a library and aÃ seminarianÃ usually studies in a seminary, aÃ vegetarianÃ can show up anywhere. (SeeÃ Common Suffixes in English.) Verbal Nouns AÃ verbal nounÃ (sometimes called aÃ gerund) is a noun thats derived from a verb (usually by adding the suffixÃ -ing) and that exhibits the ordinary properties of a noun- for example, My mother didnt like the idea of myÃ writingÃ a book about her.Most contemporary linguists distinguishÃ verbalsÃ fromÃ deverbals, but not always in precisely the same way.