Lesson 1.3: Noun Syntax


So far, we’ve looked at some of the suffixes that attach to nouns. This is part of their morphology. Now we can look at the syntax of nouns, considering the kinds of words that occur alongside them.


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 (like 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. The term modification is one we’ll be exploring in more depth later. And we'll take another look at adjectives too.


Importantly, though, as with the noun morphology, don’t just tell your students all this.


Activity: Have students find sentences in texts and then identify all of the nouns. How do they know that something is a noun? Have them use morphological and syntactic evidence to back up their choices.


Here is this lesson as a pdf.