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Grammatical categories of the noun

The noun has 3 categories: number, gender, case.

Generally speaking the noun denotes things or substances.
The category of gender doesnt play a big part in the English language. Most of the nouns
do not have the inflection for gender. We can talk about gender only as a biological
category of sex. So, the nouns can be animate or nonanimate.
The personal male noun is he and the female is she.
There are other personal male/female nouns which are marked for gender host/hostess,
actor/actress. There are nouns which have dual forms such as artist, doctor, singer,
parent. If we want to specify we can say male artist/female artist. There are animate
nouns which can be classified as common gender. Child for example.
There is also a group of nouns which is called collective those are police, army, enemy,
group, gang. They can be substituted by it/which if there are used as a whole and if they
are used as a group of people they can be substituted by who, they.
There are nouns, which have two complete different forms depending on their gender.
Such are stallion mere; dog fox bitch fox
The names of the countries are usually replaced by it. When we speak about a political
unit we use she. For the names of machines we may use it, but when we speak about
ships, it is more common to refer to them as she. In poetry death or an ocean can be
referred to as he.
Number is usually represented as opposition singular and plural. The plural is applied
when more than one object is meant. Singular is used when one object is meant.
Nouns can be variable and invariable.
Singular invariables:
Concrete mass nouns they dont have a plural form unless there is a shift in their
meaning. For example:
I like tea / England imports various teas.
Plural form of these may be used for a specific stylistic effect.
The waters of the ocean
Abstract mass nouns in some cases they may have a plural form.
Did you have much difficulty? / He had many difficulties is learning Japanese.
The nouns can be count and noncount.
Count nouns refer to entities viewed in English as individual units. The entities they refer
to can be abstract as well as concrete. If there is just one entity being refer to and the
noun phrase is indefinite we use the article a(an). The question form beginning How
manyis used to ask about quantity for count nouns only:
How many guests are coming tonight?
Count nouns, since they refer to units viewed as countable, can be singular or plural. The
singular form of a count noun must be introduced by an overt determiner. This is a major
difference between singular count nouns and singular noncount nouns, which do not

require a determiner, although some determiners the definite article, the singular form
of the demonstratives like this and that, and certain quantifiers often do introduce them.
Singular count nouns require either the indefinite article a(an) or a definite determiner
like the, that, this. For plural form the only indefinite article allowed is the zero form, for
example, houses rather than a houses. Some quantifiers such as each, every can occur
with singular count nouns, while other quantifies, such as several, both, and few, occur
with plural count nouns.
Noncount nouns typically refer to entities that are viewed not as individual units but as
something having no specific shape or boundary. Indefinite noncount nouns cannot take
the indefinite article a(an). Noncount nouns are used to designate abstract or very
generalized referents such as starvation, naturalization, gravity They are also used for
concrete things viewed as mass or bulk rather than as countable units, for example butter,
water, equipment The question How much? Is used to ask about quantity for
noncount nouns:
How much butter do you want today?
Proper nouns, names of particular people, places, times, and other entities, are a
somewhat special case of noncount nouns. They normally refer to a unique entity and
therefore do not occur as plural forms. Because of their uniqueness or reference, they
occur alone in their noun phrase without modifiers or any determiners. In writing they
differ from other nouns in beginning with capital letter. As with most categories in
English grammar, they are significant exceptions. Some proper nouns are also count
nouns and can therefore occur in the plural with determiners before them: two Arabs,
several Buddhists. Most proper nouns however are noncount nouns.
Singular indefinite noun phrases have several basic uses:
1. The specific indefinite use indicates a specific entity that is not yet familiar to the
She saw a tall tree with purple blossoms.
She saw some trees with purple blossoms.
In the second sentence, some is not used as a quantifier. Used as a quantifier some
contrasts to all.
2. The generic indefinite use refers to a class of entities:
They advertised for a three-bedroom apartment.
Some, in this case, is used as a quantifier.
3. The generic predicate noun phrase use provides a classification:
Toby was a deerhound.
The definite article the occur with almost any kind of noun count or noncount, singular
or plural except noncount proper nouns. In general the definite article is used when its
noun phrase refers to an entity that should be identifiable. The entity may be considered
identifiable for any of the several reasons:
1. It has previously been identified by the addressee.
2. There is only one entity, or only one event, at least in our everyday experience:
the earth, the UN, the sun
3. within a particular context. For example: in the context of the family: the father
4. The entity has been referred to previously

5. the entity is represented as unique in some context by modifiers such as strongest,

most beautiful
6. the entity is present in the time of the utterance: The brown jacket
7. The entity is expressed as a noun with a specific rather than generic reference,
followed by an identifying modifier, as in the anger he felt
Some quantifiers are restricted to count nouns, others to noncount nouns. Yet other
quantifiers such as all, some allow either count or noncount nouns to follow. Of course,
the number quantifiers go only with count nouns and also many, several, few, each, every
are restricted to count nouns only.
On the other hand much, little (referring to quantity, not size) occur only with noncount
Bradshaw had little money.
The quantifier much is restricted to questions and negative clauses.
Like much, any is associated with negative, interrogative and conditional clauses. It does
not occur in ordinary affirmative statements. In those cases we use some.
However, there is a certain difference in the way they are used. For example:
Does William have some apples?
Does William have any apples?
In the first case an affirmative answer is expected, while in the second sentence a
negative answer is expected.
Many nouns, however, can be used both ways: as count and noncount.
Such nouns are said to switch the count feature: count become noncount and vice versa.
Abstract nouns such as: demand, acceleration, priority, success, damage, gravity and
increase can be used either way, although for many of them there is some difference in
the meaning. Gravity, for example, is normally used as a noncount noun it refers to a unit
of measurement for this force:
This rocket casing fell at a rate of 4.5 gravities.
With, success, in contrast, the difference in meaning is very slight, with the count use
referring to individual successful achievements and the noncount use to an overall
evaluation of an effort.
Many nouns referring to concrete entities can also switch
Marilyn, take two more butters to those customers over there.
Other such nouns are cheese, coffee, wine, chocolate, candy, fish, poison and food.
Even when nouns are used as nouns, they can be counted. This happens with the help of a
classifier attached to the quantifier. The counting phrase precedes the noun and is linked
to it by of.
Four bags of sugar
A drop of water
In this noun phrases, the classifying noun is itself a count noun. They are called counters.
In those kind of NP, the head noun is the counter. For example:
Three bags of wool are in the barn.

In this sentence are cannot be replaced by is, so the head noun can only be the counter.
The choice of the right counter is not very simple. For example the counters chunk and
piece are both used for solid material, which are seen as unsegmentable. So two pieces of
equipment is acceptable, two chunks of equipment is not.
It is clear that the nouns can be count and noncount. The count can be common and
proper and they can be singular and plural, and the noncount can be common and proper.
However, not all nouns follow in one of these classes. Some noncount nouns are always
plural. The nouns scissors, pants require two pairs of if they are to be counted. There
are some nouns that are always plural, arms, clothes
On the other hand nouns such as police, cattle, people are used as plural nouns, though
they do not take plural endings. They can also be used as singular.
English nouns have only two cases, the unmarked common case and the marked genitive
case, also called possessive.
The genitive inflection is phonologically identical with the regular plural inflection.
Orthographically a fourfold distinction always obtain, since the genitive ending is always
spelled with an apostrophe: before the ending for the singular, after it for the plural:
One cows tail.
We frequently find a choice between using a premodifying genitive and a postmodifying
prepositional phrase with of ; the similarity in meaning and function has caused the latter
to be called by some of-genitive.
There were strong objections from the islands inhabitants / the inhabitants of the island.
But although both versions in this instance are equally acceptable, with a choice
determined largely by preferred focus, for the most part we must select either the genitive
or the of-construction.
a) possessive Mrs Johnsons coat
b) attribute The victims outstanding courage
c) partitive The hearts two ventricles
d) subjective The parents consent
e) objective The prisoners release.
f) Of origin Mothers letter.
g) Descriptive Childrens shoes
Grammatically the genetive can be:

determiner For most part, genitives function exactly like central definite
determiners and thus preclude the coocurance of other determiners.
A new briefcase
Johns new briefcase.
- modifier where the genetive is used descriptively, however, it functions not as a
determiner but as modifier with a classifying role. Determiners in such noun
phrases usually relate not to genetive but to the noun following, where the
singular a could obviously not coocur with the plural women

They attend a womens university in Kyoto.

- the independent genetive it is common to ellipse the noun following the
genetive if the reference is contextually clear. For example:
Jennifers is the only face I recognized there.
He has a devotion to his work as his fathers.
- the post genetive since in its determiner role, the genetive must be definite, we
can be in some difficulty with a sentence like
Georges sister is coming to stay with us.
If George has more than one sister, we may say:
One of Georges sisters is coming to stay with us.
A sister of George is coming to stay with us.
The latter is called post genetive.