English Nouns and Pronouns
Nouns and pronouns are important parts of a language. Nouns are the objects or people of a sentence. Pronouns stand in for nouns when we want to avoid using the name of the object or person again in the sentence.
Articles are the defining words that come before a noun or pronoun in a sentence. Read on for more information and examples of articles, nouns and pronouns.
The noun is the subject of the sentence. It is the person, item, place, feeling or thing in a sentence: The dog / A person / An egg / The atmosphere / A house / An opening.
A proper noun is the name of something, your own name for example, or the name of a city, a film or a day of the week.
Nouns can also be material items, such as a pencil, a cloud or a tractor. Nouns can be places, such as London or the train station. Nouns can be people or animals, such as John or a cat.
Nouns can also be feelings or emotions, such as happiness or satisfaction. Nouns can be personal qualities too, such as humour. These nouns that describe emotions, qualities or states of being are sometimes called ‘abstract nouns’.
An article is the word preceding the noun, telling us if we know the specific noun or if the noun is a general noun. For example, ‘Lucy is the woman who works at the shop, but there is a man that works there too’. The implication here is that the speaker does not know the man.
A = indefinite article (not referring to a specific dog) (‘A’ becomes ‘An’ when the noun begins with a vowel (a, e, i, o, u)
The = definite article (referring to a specific dog)
Countable and Uncountable nouns
Countable nouns refer to those nouns which we can count, for example: books, desks, pens, litres, dogs, cars and people
- Countable nouns can be singular or plural, for example: ‘a dog’, ‘the dogs’.
- Singular countable nouns must use either a definite article (‘the’), an indefinite article (‘a’ or ‘an’) or an adjective pronoun (‘my’, ‘your’, ‘his’, ‘our’ etc.) in front of them in a sentence.
- Plural countable nouns can omit an article or adjective pronoun, for example: ‘I like cakes, ‘He repairs cars at the garage’, ‘They take pens to school’.
- Words denoting quantity can be used with countable nouns, for example: ‘a few’, ‘many’, ‘lots of’, ‘not many’. For example: ‘We read lots of books’.
Uncountable nouns refer to those nouns which cannot count, for example, water, happiness, jealousy, news, money, sugar, electricity, trust, time, music, peace.
- Uncountable nouns take a singular verb.
- Indefinite articles are not used with uncountable nouns. Instead we can use the word ‘of’, for example: ‘a pound of sugar’, ‘a bottle of water’, a ‘piece of music‘.
- We can also use the words ‘some’, ‘any’.
Pronouns are sometimes used instead of proper nouns.
Subject pronouns are: I, you, he, she, it, we, they
For example: I closed the door; you can drive the car, they made the cakes.
Object pronouns are: me, you, him, her, it, our, them
Personal pronouns are: my/mine, your/yours, his, her/hers, its (no apostrophe), our/ours, their/theirs
Personal pronouns can be either possessive pronouns (mine, yours, his, etc.) which come at the end of the sentence. (e.g. ‘the book is mine’) or possessive adjectives which are always used just before the noun or the description of the noun ( ‘that is my big, red book’)
Reflexive pronouns are: myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, themselves. reflexive pronouns are rarely used in English.
One occasion where reflexive pronouns are used is for emphasis. For example, ‘I made the dinner myself’, ‘I need you to read the book yourself’.
Other times are when the pronoun is the object of a preposition referring to a subject. For example: ‘He enjoyed going on holiday by himself’, ‘She bought a new dress for herself’,
The last occasion to use reflexive pronouns is when they are used with reflexive verbs. For example: ‘I hope that you enjoy yourself’, ‘They have hurt themselves’, ‘We convinced ourselves to go’.
Now we have explored nouns and pronouns, read all about noun inflections to find out how the endings of nouns can change depending on the context. This extra knowledge will improve your English language skills further.