Grammar: Nouns

Grammar in EAP



Nouns are words such as “Smith”, “Oxford”, “letter”, “laughter” & “beauty”. They are defined partly by their form and partly by their position or function.There are several word endings that indicate that a word is a noun. Typical examples are “-ity”, “-ment”, “-ness”, “-tion”, & “-hood”. They usually change their form (inflect) for plural:- “-s”, “-es”.

With regard to their position, nouns frequently follow determiners “a”, “the”, “this”, “that” and their main function is Head of a nominal group. Nouns are often classified into common nouns, proper nouns and pronouns.

Try this exercise in identifying nouns: Grammar: Noun Exercise

Many mistakes with nouns are avoided by proofreading.

1. Check your plurals.

Read the following sentences and notice the plural nouns. See, for example, Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad & Finegan (1999, chap. 4.5) for more information.

  • There are certain problems associated with the concept of a delinquent subculture.
  • If a student of British politics demanded some precepts to guide his research, the compiler would have little difficulty about the first and most significant maxim in the creed.
  • Nicolson’s account is far too discreet, and obscures some of the most important features of the crisis.
  • The three main works are all rather slight when they come to tackle the complexities of the Liberal attitude during the crisis.
  • The first step towards understanding the crisis of 1931 is to distinguish between different types of coalition government.

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2. Check your countable/uncountable nouns.

Read the following text and notice the countable and uncountable nouns. See, for example, Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad & Finegan (1999, chap. 4.3) for more information.

The resources of society consist not only of the free gifts of nature, such as land, forests, and minerals, but also of human capacity, both mental and physical, and all sorts of man-made aids to further production such as tools, machinery and buildings.

An introduction to positive economics. R. G. Lipsey.

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3. Check the order of modifiers.

When a noun has two or more premodifiers, these tend to occur in a certain order. See, for example, Biber, Johansson, Leech, Conrad & Finegan (1999, chap. 8.4) for more information.

Read the following phrases and notice the order of the premodifiers before the head noun.

  • Suppose instead we have a horizontal supplycurve.
  • There were some very young businessstudents.
  • McDonald’s see this as a way of meeting the demand for relatively cheap and easily availablesustenance.
  • Other fragmentarylegislation is to be found in recent years.
  • Such a case might still be regarded as a most serious non-fataloffence.
  • There is a short history of interruption in the more fully commercialsystem of US broadcasting.



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