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Nouns

Nouns can be either proper or common. Proper nouns are those that refer to a particular person, place, thing, or idea. Such nouns are capitalized: AmericaGeorge WashingtonMr. NerudaOctober.

Nouns that do not refer to a particular person, place, thing, or idea are common nouns. They are not capitalized: landgirlsmoneytest. Compare the following list of proper and common nouns:

Proper NounsCommon Nouns
Mexicocountry
Ms. Finchwoman
Englishlanguage
McGraw-Hillpublisher
American Airlinescompany
Decembermonth

Nouns can be used as the subject of a sentence. The subject is the word that is performing the action in the sentence. The subject can be a proper noun or a common noun, and it can be singular or plural:

  • Juanita is a friend of mine.
  • The boys like to play soccer.
  • Where is the school?

Nouns can also be used as direct objects. The direct object in a sentence is the noun that receives the action of the verb. To find the direct object in a sentence do three things:

  1. Find the subject of the sentence.
  2. Find the verb in the sentence.
  3. Ask whom or what with the subject and the verb.

Look at these sample sentences:

“Sara likes my brother.”“The girls find a book.”
1. subject = Sara
2. verb = likes
3. ask whom = Whom does Sara like?
1. subject = girls
2. verb = find
3. ask what = What do the girls find?
The direct object is my brother.The direct object is book.

Nouns are sometimes indirect objects. They stand before the direct object in the sentence. It is the person to whom or for whom something is provided. To find the indirect object in a sentence do three things:

  1. Find the subject of the sentence.
  2. Find the verb in the sentence.
  3. Ask to whom or for whom with the subject and the verb.

Look at these sample sentences:

“Justin buys the girl a magazine.”“Mother gives Nate five dollars.”
1. subject = Justin
2. verb = buys
3. ask to whom or for whom = For whom does Justin buy a magazine?
1. subject = Mother
2. verb = gives
3. ask to whom or for whom = To whom does Mother give five dollars?
The indirect object is girl.The indirect object is Nate.

Note: It is rare that something inanimate is used as an indirect object.

When a noun is used as a predicate noun, it follows the predicate in the sentence. The predicate can be a single verb or a verb phrase:

  • Verb as the predicate: Maria helps us.
  • Verb phrase as the predicate: Maria usually helps with the gardening.

Predicate nouns most often follow the verbs to be and to become:

  • My mother wants to be a doctor.
  • Celine became an actress.
  • Are you the manager of this building?

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