| This article is part of the grammar course.
You may choose to follow it in a structured way, or read each item separately.
- In primary school, you may have learnt that ‘a noun is a naming word.’ This is true – as far as it goes.
- The secondary school definition is ‘a noun is the name of a thing, idea, person or place.’
- A modern characterisation of a noun should be easier: if you can put a word, on its own, after ‘the’ or ‘a’ and it feels natural, then it is probably a noun – e.g. the man, a car, a university, a course, the reference, etc. This does not apply to all nouns – e.g. people’s names only have ‘the’ before them in unusual circumstances, but they are still nouns. E.g. “the Anne [that I am talking about] is the one in the History Department”; “the Hull I mean is in Canada.”
The word class noun can be subdivided in several ways. There are common and proper nouns; abstract and concrete nouns; and countable and non-countable nouns. All these distinctions can overlap - an abstract noun may be either common or proper, and a proper noun can be countable or uncountable. Other types of noun include collectives and verbal nouns; for a longer list see category:noun attributes.