A noun is a kind of word. Its job is to give a name to a person, a place, an object, an animal, etc. so that we can talk about those things when they are not actually present.

Compound nouns
A noun can consist of more than a single word. When two or more words are used to make a noun it is called a compound noun. The words t hat make up a compound noun may be written as one word, like in ‘blackboard’ or ‘paintbrush’ or as two words as in ‘pet shop’ or ‘tracksuit’. The words in a compound noun may also be joined by a hyphen as in mother-in- aw or jack-in-the-box.

There are four different kinds of nouns that we might consider.

Common nouns
The first of these is the common noun. As its name suggests, this is by far the largest group of nouns. The job of the common noun is to give a name to the everyday things which surround us. If you look around the room and make a list of objects which you can see, the list is likely to contain exclusively common nouns. Chair, table, door, pencil, wall, pen, book, window, field, sky – the list goes on and on…

Proper nouns
The proper noun’s job is to give a name to a unique, individual person, place, object or animal. A proper noun can also consist of one or more words. The special thing about proper nouns is that they ALWAYS have capital letters no matter where they appear in a sentence. So John Smith, Blackpool Tower, Leeds River Thames, France, Rex (my dog), Atlantic Ocean and Dr. Who are all proper nouns.

Collective nouns
The job of a collective noun is to give a name to a group of objects, animals or people. So we would have a bunch of keys, flowers or bananas, a class of pupils, a herd of cows but a flock of sheep, whilst ,a pack could be of dogs or of playing cards…

Abstract Nouns
The last type of noun that we are going to consider is probably the most difficult for children to recognise and understand. An abstract noun’s job is to give a name to ideas, concepts or feelings. An abstract noun gives a name to things that you cannot see, touch, taste, smell or hear. Bravery, stupidity, sadness, mathematics, shyness, pride and gratitude are all abstract nouns.

In many foreign languages it is normal for every noun to have gender. In other words every object animal or person is considered to be male or female. In Spanish, for instance, the Sun, the sea and ice-cream are thought of as masculine [el sol, el Mar, el helado] Whereas the beach and the clouds are feminine [a playa, la nube]. This may seem a little strange at first but we do have different words for people and animals depending upon whether they are male or female. Man and woman, boy and girl are two obvious ones but we have a buck and a doe for deer or rabbits, prince and princess for members of the royalty and witch and warlock in the world of Harry Potter…


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