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   Kinds of Nouns
   Classification of Nouns
    Tangible and Intangible Things
    Countable and Uncountable Things
    Mass and Material Things
    Package of Things
    Plural uncountable Things
    Grammatical Gender of Things
    Animate and Inanimate Things
   Orders of Nouns
   Properties of Nouns


A noun is usually defined as a word used to name something. Something can be a person, place, thing, idea, etc. The word, something or thing, is defined in a more general sense that something can be see, hear, taste, touch, or smell, or something can be think of, but cannot perceive by the senses mentioned. In other words, every tangible and intangible object can be named by a noun. And therefore noun is a word used to represent an object during verbal communication in particular sense.

Kinds of Nouns

There are many ways to classify or describe nouns. According to the nature of a noun, naming something, nouns can be divided into two big classes, common nouns and proper nouns. A common noun refers to thing in general or common sense, while a proper noun refers to thing in particular or specific sense.

In order to have a little more clear on the definition of each kind of noun, abstract nouns and collective nouns are usually excluded from the common nouns such that a common noun in singular form refers to one single tangible thing only in a general sense. While an abstract noun refers to an intangible thing and a collective noun refers to more than one tangible thing collectively. Mass noun, material noun or uncountable noun is not a collective noun because the word itself is to name one single tangible object only. Material nouns or mass nouns are usually the name of material, substance or things that cannot be counted but measured or cannot be counted easily.

Words denoting different gender are included in the classification accordingly while both the plural forms, possessive forms, and other forms of a noun can be classified according to the classification of the noun form originated from. Therefore, in general, nouns can be divided into four kinds of things.

  1. Common Noun: A common noun is usually "a word" given in common to something physical in a general sense. Physical things can be every person, place, or thing of the same class of kind.

    John is a doctor.

  2. Proper Noun: A proper noun is usually "a word" given to something physical in a particular sense. Particular things can be particular person, particular place, or particular thing

    John is a doctor.

  3. Abstract Noun: An abstract noun is usually "a word" given to something intangible as apart from the physical thing in form non-physical existence. In general, an abstract thing itself can not be see, hear, smell, taste, touch. Abstract things can be a quality, action, state, concept, etc.

    Wisdom is better than strength.

  4. Collective noun: A collective noun is usually "a word" given to a number or collection of something taken together as one whole thing. Something can be spoken as a whole is animals, person, things.

    A class of 40 students can be divided into five groups.

Kinds of Nouns may be represented by the following figure.


Classification of Nouns

Similarly, according to the characteristics of the thing named by a noun, nouns can also be classified into different types.

Tangible and Intangible Things

According to the physical characteristics of the thing named by a noun, nouns can be divided into two big classes, concrete nouns and abstract nouns. Concrete nouns are tangible or physical things that can be sensed by the fives sense, i.e. see, hear, smell, taste, and feel, while abstract nouns are intangible or non-physical things that can be think of.

In other words, concrete nouns are tangible things named by a common noun, proper noun, or collective noun that can be counted or measured while abstract nouns are intangible things that cannot be counted or measured.

In order to simplify the classification of nouns, a tangible noun shares the same meaning of a concrete noun in general sense. A concrete noun refers to a tangible thing that has a concrete evidence for its physical existence according to the definition. An abstract noun refers to a intangible thing that does not have any concrete evidence for its physical existence according to the definition.

Countable and Uncountable Things

Nouns can also be divided into two big classes, countable nouns and uncountable nouns according to the countability of the thing named by a noun. Countable nouns are individual things that can be counted easily, while uncountable nouns are things that cannot be counted, or is difficult to count but can be measured.

There are two lights in the room. (light: countable noun)

There is too much light in the room. (light: uncountable noun)

Mass and Material Things

Both mass and material noun refer to uncountable tangible mass and material things in general sense that cannot be counted or is difficult to count, but can be measured. However, material nouns usually refer only to words used to name a bulk, mass, quantity of matter, such as substance, mineral, material. While, mass nouns usually refer to words used to name an aggregation of things united in one body, including substance, mineral, material and other things in the broader sense.

A marble is a toy. (marble: common noun)

Marble is a kind of rock. (marble: material noun)

Package of Things

Similar to mass and material things, tangible things can also be packed collectively as one body by a word descriptively. The word used to name and describe the things collectively is called collective or package noun. There are four ways to collect or pack things together.

  1. Grouping nouns: Countable people, animals, or things are collectively grouped together as one single body or unit.

  2. Unit nouns: Uncountable things are grouped and described in term of one individual unit or piece.

  3. Quantifying nouns: Countable or uncountable things are grouped together by quantity as one single body or unit in a container, at a formed shape, by a measurement, by a mass quantity, by a descriptive quantity, and a related quantity.

  4. Qualifying nouns: Countable or uncountable things are grouped together by quality as one single body or unit in species, sort, kind, class, type, form, make, etc.

Plural uncountable Things

There are some nouns that only have a plural form because the named things are considered to have more than one thing. such as

scissors, and other two-bladed tools, pliers, forceps, shears, tweezers, tongs, etc.

trousers, and other garments: pants, shorts, leggings, jeans, flares, tights, overalls, dungarees, bloomers, chaps,etc.

glasses, or binoculars, spectacles, and goggles.

clothes, marginalia, folks, shenanigans, loggerheads, cahoots

amends, annals, aims, smithereens, thanks, suds, panties, drawers, boxers, briefs, riches, furnishing, belongings, earnings, valuables, jitters, blues, doldrums, remains, ruins, leftovers,

Grammatical Gender of Things

In English, the use of gender-specific nouns is rare. However, in general, nouns can also be divided into four classes, masculine gender, feminine gender, common gender, and neuter gender according to the grammatical gender of the thing named by a noun. Things of masculine gender are male. Things of feminine gender are female. Things of common gender are either male or female. Things of neuter gender are neither male nor female., i.e. thing without life. Gender-specific nouns refer to nouns of things that associated with a particular gender. masculine gender or feminine gender, while gender-neutral nouns refer to nouns of things that is not associated with a particular gender, common gender or neuter gender.

Animate and Inanimate Things

Sometimes, nouns can also be divided into two big classes, animate nouns and inanimate nouns according to the sign of life of the thing named by a noun. Animate nouns are things that have a life refer to people, animals, and living beings, while inanimate nouns are things that are not alive.

Orders of Nouns

The orders of entities method provides a more detailed way to classify a noun.

  1. Entities of first order: Physical things exist in space at any time.

  2. Entities of second order: Physical things happen in space in a time frame.

  3. Entities of third order: Things that not exist in space and time.

  4. Entities of four order: Things that not exist in space but happen in a time frame.

Properties of Nouns

Besides the classification of a noun, the properties of a noun are also important because the function of each noun in a sentence is highly depending on the property of the noun exhibited in the sentence. The four properties of a noun are gender, number, case, and person. In general, number and case affect the form of the word used in the sentence, while gender and person will affect the choice of using the right word.

  1. Gender: In English, gender is not related to the form of a noun and gender is only related to a matter of sex. Gender specific nouns are nouns using two different words to name a male thing and a female thing. While gender neutral nouns are common or neutral in gender. Although, gender specific nouns are rare in English, the right word should be used to represent the sex of a thing correctly in a sentence.

  2. Number: In English, the form of a noun is changed when the word denotes more than one of the thing. A noun that denotes one thing is said to be in the singular number, while a noun that denotes the thing more than one is said to be in the plural number. A noun in the singular number is sometimes called the singular form. A noun in the plural number is usually called the plural form. Therefore word with correct form should be used to represent the correct number of thing in a sentence. However, nouns in plural form are commonly used in singular and certain collective nouns in singular form are always used in plural.

  3. Case: In general, an verbal expression of a sentence is only a group of words, however, there is always a fixed relationship between words in a sentence of an expression. Cases are used to denote the relationship between a noun and the other words in a sentence such that the role or function of the noun in the sentence can be clearly identified. Noun has three cases, nominative case, accusative case, and possessive or genitive case. The three cases are used to denote the subject role, object role and role of showing possession. Nouns in the nominative case and accusative case are of the same form, however, nouns in possessive case are of different form. Therefore the right word with correct form should be used to represent the correct thing with correct role in a sentence.

  4. Person: Since a sentence is an expression of a complete sense, the way to express the expression is important. Person are used to show whether something is speaking, something is being spoken to, or something is being spoken about. In other words, the three person of a noun is noun in first person, noun in second person, or noun in third person. The correct identification of the person in a sentence can help to used the right word for expressing the complete sense of a sentence.



ID: 130900004 Last Updated: 24/12/2015 Revision: 2 Ref:



  1. Thomson A.J., Martinet A.V., 1961
  2. Nesfield, J.C., 1898

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