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The noun is a part of speech which has the general categorical meaning of thingness. It has two grammatical categories: the number and the case.





The Noun



Proper nouns Common nouns



Names of persons Geographic names Concrete Abstract Collective



Class Material




Animate Inanimate



Common Nouns and Proper Nouns

Proper nouns can become common nouns and vice versa.

1. A proper noun becomes a common noun when:

a) the name of a painter, inventor, writer, manufacture or a firm is used to denote some work. Then it is used with the indefinite article.

This small museum has a Dali.

A Hornby will help you a lot.

b) the characteristic qualities of the bearer of the name (but not the person himself) are meant.

He is a poet, but he is not a Shelley.

This fellow is really a Jack-of-all-trades.

Mozart is called the Raphael of music.

When proper nouns become common nouns they may be used with either of the articles.


2. Common nouns can also become proper nouns:

the City, the Tower, Parliament, the Black Sea

Such nouns are spelt with the capital letter.


Subgroups of Proper Nouns

1) names of persons

No article is used when they denote separate individuals and when they are preceded by such adjectives as poor, old, little, dear, etc.

Dear old Emily!

The definite article is used when the whole family is meant:

the Smiths, the Taylors (but the Taylor family, the Kennedy brothers)

The indefinite article is used to denote one member of a family; or an unknown person, a stranger, having the name in question:

She was a true Dobson.

A Mr. Parker is waiting for you.


Note. The definite article may be used with a proper name modified by a descriptive attribute when the attribute indicates the permanent quality of the person:

He slapped him on the shoulder, which startled and slightly annoyed the prim (чопорный) George Augustus.

You are not the Andrew Manson I married.

When an unusual quality of the person is meant, the indefinite article may be used:

Before I can stop her she is developing a startled Elinor in a hug.

He turned to a dumbstruck Robert Langdon.

Had Voldemort chosen Neville, it would be Neville sitting opposite Harry bearing the lightning-shaped scar…Would there then have been … a scarless Harry who would have been kissed goodbye by his own mother, not Ron’s?

Well, she was married to him. And what was more she loved him. Not the Stanley whom everyone saw, not the everyday one; but a timid, sensitive, innocent Stanley who knelt down every night to say his prayers…

2) geographic names of countries, mountains, islands, lakes, capes, rivers, seas, etc.

3) names of streets, parks, theatres, colleges, museums, newspapers, ships, etc.


Subgroups of common nouns


1) Concrete nouns name objects that occupy space and can be perceived by our senses. Here belong class nouns and material nouns.

a) Class nouns refer objects to the same class of things. They can be counted. They can be animate and inanimate.

A girl, a table

b) Material nouns denote substances, they are generally uncountable.

Iron, snow, bread, air

2) Abstract nouns are the names of actions, states, notions

Love, kindness, time, day, thunder, summer.

Note. Abstract noun can turn into concrete nouns when they represent concrete objects:

Beauty – a beauty

Youth – a youth


3) Collective nouns denote groups of similar objects (people or things). They are divided into the following groups:

a) collective nouns proper denoting groups of living beings

b) nouns of multitude

c) nouns used only in the singular


a) Collective nouns proper can be treated as a single whole, an indivisible body. In this case they take a verb in the singular. They can also denote separate individuals and in this case they take a verb in the plural remaining singular in number. Therefore they cantake the verb both in the singular and in the plural.

Here refer such nouns as crowd, family, group, team, crew, audience, staff, government, board, jury, company, nation, etc.

Singular My family is large. The crew consists of two hundred sailors. The staff is well-trained and efficient. Plural The family were on bad terms with one another. Our family are all musicians. The crew were all asleep. The staff are going to buy a leaving present for their boss.

b) The nouns of multitude are used in the form of the singular but plural in meaning and always take a verb in the plural. Here refer the nouns police, poultry, cattle, clergy, gentry, people, fowl, vermin, etc.

The police have just arrived.

The poultry are in the yard.

Vermin are small animals such as rats and mice which carry disease and damage crops.

Note. The noun people in the meaning люди is always plural, thus it is a noun of multitude and it takes a verb in the plural:

There were many people in the room.

The singular a people means народ and it is treated as a collective noun proper, thus it may take a verb both in the singular and in the plural:

The people of this country is famous for its hospitality.

Italians are a people who are fond of music.

There lived a people who were neither black nor white.


c) Collective nouns which are used only in the singular take a verb in the singular.Here refer the nouns luggage, baggage, foliage, furniture, cutlery, crockery, hair, linen, money, fruit, machinery, equipment, hardware, software, etc.

Translate into English.


1. Есть сведения, что полиция ищет угонщиков самолета. 2. Футбольная команда обычно состоит из одиннадцати игро­ков. 3. Игроки хоккейной команды Швеции были одеты в бе­лые костюмы и оранжевые каски. 4. Аудитория была потрясе­на голосом певицы. 5. — Сколько человек присутствовало на приеме? — Очень много, просто толпа. 6. Команда корабля вы­полняла разную работу. 7. По современным стандартам моя се­мья большая. Нас шесть человек. 8. В моей семье — все ранние пташки. 9. Армия в этой стране — сильная и хорошо оснащен­ная. 10. Народы Африки практически освободились от колони­ального ига. 11. Скот сейчас пасется высоко в горах. 12. Моя домашняя птица поглощает невероятное количество зерна. 13. Актеры этой труппы из разных стран. 14. Жюри раздели­лось в своем мнении. 15. Комитет состоял из двенадцати пред­ставителей.



All nouns are classified into countable and uncountable. Countable nouns in English have two numbers: the singular and the plural. There are four basic ways to build the plural of the nouns:

  1. adding –s or –es to the singular form of a noun

a bee – bees [z]

a dog – dogs [z]

a book – books [s]

Note . Nouns ending in –th after a short vowel have the ending -s [s]

Month – months [qs]

After a long vowel or a diphthong they have the ending –s [z]

Baths [dz], paths, oaths

But: youths [qs], births [qs]

Mind the spelling rules:

a) –s,


-ch +-es



A bus – buses, a bush – bushes, a watch – watches, a fox – foxes

b) –y (after a consonant) -ies

a cry - cries

a party – parties


c) –y (after a vowel, -ys

in proper names

and compounds)

a day – days

a toy – toys

the two Germanys

the Kennedys, Marys

a stand-by – stand-bys


d)–o -oes

a hero – heroes [z]

a potato – potatoes [z]

Negroes, tomatoes

But: photos, pianos, discos, radios, zoos, cuckoos, Romeos, Eskimos, kangaroos, kilos, studios, concertos, solos, ghettos.

e)Thirteen nouns ending in–f(e)change it into–vebefore-s

–f(e) –ves [vz]

A calf – calves a self - selves

an elf – elves a sheaf – sheaves (сноп)

a half – halves a shelf - shelves

a knife – knives a thief - thieves

a leaf – leaves a wife - wives

a life – lives a wolf - wolves

a loaf – loaves


Two forms are possible:




Other nouns:

Proofs, chiefs, safes, cliffs, etc.

Note. A staff - staffs (штат, штаб, палка, посох)

a staff (a stave) – staves (строфа, нотный стан)


  1. the change of the root vowel:

a woman – women

a man – men

a foot – feet

a goose – geese

a tooth – teeth

a mouse – mice

a louse – lice


a child – children

an ox – oxen

a brother brothers

brethren (a religious term, or in elevated style)


  1. identical forms for the singular and for the plural:

a) a deer – two deer

a sheep – ten sheep

a swine – a lot of swine

a grouse – two grouse (куропатка)

a cod – cod (треска)

a trout – trout (форель)

a pike – pike (щука)

a salmon – salmon

a fish – fish

The form fishes denotes different kinds of fish.

The fishes of the Atlantic.


b) a series – two series (ряд, серия)

a species – three species (вид, род)

a corps – corps (корпус, род войск)

a barracks – barracks

a headquarters – headquarters

a works – works (завод)

an aircraft – aircraft

a means – means

a quarters - quarters

c) names of nationalities ending in -ese, -ss

a Portuguese – ten Portuguese

a Swiss – ten Swiss

Note. The word penny has two plural forms:

Pence – a sum of money, a coin of this value (Here is ten pence).

Pennies - individual coins (Here are ten pennies).


d) names indicating number such as pair, couple, dozen, score (два десятка), stone (6,35 kg), head (поголовье скота) when they are preceded by a numeral:

five dozen (of) eggs

The child weighs two stone.

But: dozens of times, to go in pairs


Note. Pay attention to how the nouns foot фут and pound фунт стерлингов form their plurals:

two pound(s)

but two pound ten

and two pounds and three pence

five feet (foot)

but five foot ten

and five feet and ten inches

He is six foot/feet tall, but she is only five foot one (five feet and one inch).

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