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Lesson 1.2 Nouns

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A noun is more than a “person, place, or thing.” A noun can take certain suffixes (its morphology and appear in certain places in a sentence (its syntax).


Nouns can be pluralized - Nouns express number; that is, they can be singular or plural. So to see if you have a noun take your word in question and, if pluralizing it works, you got yourself a noun.


Nouns can be made possessive – Another morphological fact about nouns is that they can take the possessive suffix -s. Try attaching the possessive to some words that you know aren’t nouns – they’re terrible. Or it turns that word into a noun. (I follow the linguistic tradition of using * to mark an ungrammatical example.)


            *the happy’s hat

            *a curious’s question


Nouns can have certain other “nominal” suffixes - -ance/ence (performance) -ion (formation), -al (refusal), -age (leakage). (See Lesson 1.2b)


Nouns occur after Determiners like a, the, and an (also called articles); this, that, these, those (also called demonstrative determiners); and possessive determiners (my, your, her, etc.).


Nouns occur after Numerals, both the Cardinal ones (six, eleven, four thousand) and the Ordinal ones (second, fifteenth).


Nouns occur after Quantifiers, words that express quantity like all, each, both, every, some, several, many, more, less, much, few. (Quantifiers behave differently from other words, so they are a distinct part of speech category, albeit one that your students may not have heard of. 


And finally, nouns can be modified by (or described by) Adjectives: the furry kitten, a rainy day


Activity: In a book or other text, find at least 10 nouns. Provide morphological or syntactic evidence that each is noun.


Activity: Make a chart identifying all of the ways in which you can determine if a word is a noun.


Teacher notes: When can nouns not be pluralized? When they’re mass nouns. See Lesson 1.2c. And in attempting to pluralize, some students may discover that -s can also attach to verbs, but they will also realize that that -s doesn’t have the effect of pluralizing. Instead, it marks present tense and agrees with a 3rd person singular subject: She eats. See Lesson 1.4d.



key words: nouns, parts of speech, morphology, plural, possessive, syntax, determiners (articles)

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.3.1a: Explain the function of nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs in general and their functions in particular sentences. 


Here is this lesson as a pdf.

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