How to use a noun

Using a noun is the first lesson that one learn in English language. How to use a noun is a question asked by a lot of beginners. In this article, we have brought you the latest of how to use noun.

How to use a noun

A noun is a naming word. It is a name of a person, place, thing animal, concept, river etc. Nouns are divided into five main kinds.

  • Common noun

A name given in common noun to every person or thing of the same class is called a common noun.


  • Hyderabad is a big city.
  • She is a good girl.


  • Proper noun

The name of a particular person or place is called a proper noun. 


  • King Solomon was a wise king.
  • Kalidas was a great poet.


  • Collective noun

It is the name of a number of persons or things taken together and spoken of as whole.


  • A herd of cattle is grazing in the field.
  • A bunch of keys is on the table.


  • Abstract noun 

The name of a quality or State of mind or a stage of life is called an abstract noun example feelings


  • Kindness is a virtue.
  • Childhood is the happiest stage of one’s life.


  •  Material noun

All those nouns which are used to refer to metals and materials are called material nouns.


  • This chain is made of gold
  • .The house is built of bricks.
  • The above examples ‘gold’ and ‘brake’ are material nouns.

Nouns are further classified into two types depending on whether they can be counted or not.

  1. Countable noun

Countable nouns are nouns that we can count for example boy- one boy, two boys, three boys etc  

Note: The classes of nouns known as common nouns(boy, table etc) and collective nouns (flock regiment, crowd, troop etc) can be included in the largest class of countable nouns.

  1. Uncountable nouns

(Also called non count nouns)

Uncountable nouns name things which we cannot count or usually don’t count. The classes of nouns known as material nouns and abstract nouns can be included in this category.

Uncountable nouns fall into the following groups:

  1. A) Things which are considered in mass or quantity and not in numbers. example sugar, sand, hair, dust etc.
  2. B) Materials example wood ,cloth ,silver ,gold, iron etc
  3. C) Liquids water, milk, oil, ink, honey etc
  4. D) Gases steam, mist, nitrogen, air etc
  5. E) Natural phenomena heat, cold, electricity, lightning etc
  6. F) Abstract nouns: stages of life, states of mind, qualities, processes, actions, ideas, courage, happiness, freedom, attention, childhood, honesty, enjoyment etc.

Note: A number of words used to refer to qualities, States, actions etc are however countable. These may be considered exceptions.

  1. G) Branches of learning economics, mathematics, politics etc

Note There are some uncountable nouns which we refer to in parts. When we do so, we use them with expressions such as a piece of, grain of, a kilo of etc.

Here is the list of such expressions:

a piece of chalk

a piece of information

a cake of soap 

a piece of furniture

a block of ice

a loaf of bread 

a piece of advise 

a log of wood

These expressions have their plural forms: pieces of chalk, cakes of soap etc.

Proper nouns are not categorized either as countable nouns or as uncountable nouns.

Now study carefully some rules related to the correct use of nouns.

Rule 1

A proper noun becomes a common noun when it is used in the plural form or when an article is placed before it.


  • There are 5 Gandhis in our college.
  • Vijay Kumar is the Milton of a college.
  • Kalidas is the Shakespeare of India

Rule 2

Collective nouns takes a singular verb when the whole group is considered as one unit.


  • The committee consists of 5 members
  • The family living next door has come from Madras.

Note: If we refer to the members of the committee or family separately, the collective noun takes a plural verb, but it remains singular inform example the committee have taken their seats.

Rule 3

An abstract noun can always be used as a common noun by placing an article before it.


  • Rajni is a beauty (a beautiful girl)

Rule 4

An abstract noun can also be used in the sense of a collective noun. When an abstract noun is used as a collective noun it takes a plural verb.


Youth are the pillars of the nation. (collective noun)

Rule 5

When a material noun denotes a mass of matter, it is not used in the plural form.


  • Their houses built of bricks and stones(in correct).
  • Their house is built of brick and stone.(correct)

Rule 6

Some nouns have the same form for the plural as well as for the singular. The following are some nouns that belong to this category.


  • Sheep, species deer, aircraft, offspring, Yoke, space craft, Salmon etc

Rule 7

Some nouns are used in the singular only. The following are some nouns that belong to this category.


advice, corn, grain, justice, clothing, information, poetry, scenery, machinery, hair etc

Note: Advice is the noun form and Advise is a verb form.

The advice of the doctor is that I should not smoke.(noun)

The doctor advised me not to smoke. (verb)

Similarly, practice is noun and practise is verb.

Rule 8

There are some nouns which are used only in the plural form.


scissors, shears, spectacles, shorts, biceps, premises, thanks, riches, gymnastics, outskirts, earnings, ,doldrums, nuptials, genitals, intestines.

Rule 9

Some nouns are apparently plural in form but are singular in use.


news, economics, physics, measles, mumps, ethics.

Note: summons is singular and summonses is plural.

Rule 10

The following nouns are always used in plural.


cattle, police, people, vermin, poultry.

Rule 11

When a plural noun denotes a specific amount, length, weight, quantity etc considered as a whole, the verb must be in the singular form.


  • 10000 rupees a large amount.
  • 6 kilometres is not a long distance for a runner like you.

Rule 12

Inanimate objects (lifeless objects) which are marketable for beauty, gentleness, gracefulness, tenderness, weakness and so on, are treated as feminine gender.


the moon, the earth, spring, virtue, peace, charity, fame, nature, hope, justice, mercy, pity, fortune, truth, victory, defeat, modesty, Liberty.

Note Poets refer to them as feminine gender.

Rule 13

In animate things which are known for strength, courage, violence, superiority and so forth, are treated as masculine.


the sun, depth, summer, winter, war, anger, fear, thunder etc

Note The possessive case of nouns is formed when we put ‘s to the noun.


  • The girl’s dress.
  • The boy’s pen

2 The possessive case is used with the nouns of living things but not with in animate objects.

  • Table’s leg (in correct)
  • Leg of the table (correct)

3 The possessive is used with the names of personified objects.

  • Death’s icy hands

Rule 14

When the noun is plural, and ends in s; the possessive case is formed by adding only and apostrophe.


  •  Girls’ hostel
  • Birds’ nest

Rule 15

When the noun is plural but doesn’t end in s,the possessive case is formed by adding apostrophe ‘s


  • Men’s club.
  • Children’s park
  • Women’s day

Rule 16

When a noun or a title consists of several words, the possessive case is formed by adding ‘s to the last word.


  • The prime minister of India’s speech.
  • The king of Bhutan’s visit to India

Rule 17

When two or more proper nouns are joined by ‘and’, and a common position is meant, the possessive case will be formed by adding apostrophe s to the last noun.


  • Amar and Kumar’s house is really beautiful.

Note  This sentence denotes that the house belongs to both Amar and Kumar.

Rule 18

When there are two nouns in apposition, the possessive case will be formed by adding apostrophe s to second noun.


  • Penicillin, Fleming’s discovery, has saved the lives of many people.
  • Mohan, the professor’s son, is very intelligent.

Rule 19

Possessive case of a compound noun will be formed by adding apostrophe ‘s as to the last word.


  • Sister in law’s house.
  • Commander-in-chief’s office.

Rule 20

If the last syllable of a singular noun ends in ‘s’ or -‘ce’ and the noun is followed by the word ‘sake’, the possessive case of the noun will be formed by adding (‘) only.


  • For goodness’ sake,  for justice’ sake
  • For conscious’ sake, for Jesus’ sake.

Correct the following sentences where necessary

  1.  my friend gives me many advices regarding my future career.
  2. The doctor has given me many informations about the disease.
  3. The magistrate has issued a summon asking me to attend his court on Monday.
  4. My hairs have turned grey recently.
  5. Our office has purchased new furnitures for our department.
  6. He is one of the notorious troubles maker in the town.
  7. Four thieves broke into my cousin’s house yesterday.
  8. The HMT factory has the latest machineries.
  9. His little daughter is capable of many mischiefs.
  10. The magistrate has passed order for his release from prison.

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