Noun phrasesand pronounsboth can have areferentialfunction where they "point" (i.e.refer) to some person or object in the real world (or a possible world). Additionally, theyshare many of the samegrammatical functionsin that they can both act assubjects,objects, andcomplementswithinclauses. Noun phrases may consist of only a singlenoun, or they may be complex consisting of anoun (which functions as theheadof the noun phrase) that ismodifiedby different typesof elements (such as adjectives, prepositional phrases, etc.)Pronouns are words that can act as substitutions for noun phrases. For instance, in thefollowing sentenceProfessor Plum kicked the very large ball with red spots over the fence.the noun phrase the very large ball with red spots can be substituted with the pronoun itas inProfessor Plum kicked it over the fence.In spite of the name pronoun, pronouns cannot substitute for nouns — they onlysubstitute for noun phrases. This can be shown with the same sentence above: the noun ball cannot be substituted with the pronoun it (or any other pronoun) as in theungrammaticalsentence*Professor Plum kicked the very large it with red spots over the fence.The sections below describe English nouns (their morphology and syntax), the structureof noun phrases, and pronouns.
Nouns are defined notionally (i.e.semantically) as generally describing persons, places,things, or ideas. This notional definition does account for what are the central members of the noun lexical category. However, the notional definition fails to account for severalnouns, such asdeverbalnouns like jump or destruction (which are notionally more likeactions). For this reason, many grammatical descriptions of English define nouns in termsof grammar (i.e. according to their morphologicalandsyntacticbehavior). Nonetheless,traditional English grammars and some pedagogical grammars define nouns with anotional definition. Non-proper nouns, in general, are not marked for caseor gender, but are marked for number anddefiniteness(when referential).
Please helpimprove this sectionby expanding it. Further information might befound on thetalk pageor atrequests for expansion. (June 2008)English nouns may be of a few morphological types:simple nounsnouns withderivationalaffixescompoundnounscompound nouns with derivational affixesSimple nouns consist of a singlerootwhich also acts as thestemwhich may beinflected.For example, theword(or, more precisely, thelexeme) boy is a simple noun consisting of a single root (also boy). The root boy also acts as the stem boy, which can have theinflectional pluralsuffix-s added to it producing the inflectionalword-formboys.More complex nouns can have derivationalprefixesor suffixes in addition to a nounstem. For example, the noun archenemy consists of a derivational prefix arch- and a rootenemy. Here the derived form archenemy acts as the stem which can be used to form theinflected word-form archenemies. An example with a derivational suffix is kingdomwhich is composed of root king and suffix -dom. Some English nouns can be complexwith several derivational prefixes and suffixes. A considerably complex example isantidisestablishmentarianism which has the root establish and the affixes anti-, dis-,-ment, -ary, -an, and -ism.English compound nouns are nouns that consist of more than one stem. For example, thecompound paperclip is composed of the stem paper and the stem clip. Compounds inEnglish can be usefully subdivided (following Bauer 1983) into different classesaccording to the lexical category of the individual stems and according to a semanticclassification into endocentric, exocentric, copulative, and appositional subtypes.
Main article:English pluralEnglish nouns are typically inflected for number , having distinct singular andpluralforms. The plural form usually consists of the singular form plus -s or -es, but there aremany irregular nouns. Ordinarily, the singular form is used when discussing one instanceof the noun's referent, and the plural form is used when discussing any other number of instances, but there are many exceptions to this rule. Here are some examples: NumberExample
Singular The girl talks.Every girl talks. No girl talks.PluralThe girls talk.All girls talk. No girls talk.
Words that belong to the nounlexical category(or part of speech) can be simple wordsthat belong primarily to the noun category. These include words like man, dog, rice, etc.Other nouns can be derived from words belonging to other lexical categories with theaddition of class-changing derivational suffixes. For example, the suffixes -ation, -ee,-ure, -al, -er, -ment are attached to verb bases to createdeverbalnouns.vex (verb)>vexation (noun)appoint (verb)>appointee (noun)fail (verb)>failure (noun)acquit (verb)>acquittal (noun)run (verb)>runner (noun)adjust (verb)>adjustment (noun)Still other suffixes (-dom, -hood, -ist, -th, -ness) form derived deadjectival nouns fromadjectives:free (adjective)>freedom (noun)lively (adjective)>livelihood (noun)moral (adjective)>moralist (noun)warm (adjective)>warmth (noun)happy (adjective)>happiness (noun)These derivational suffixes can also be added to (compound) phrasal bases like in thenoun stick-it-to-itiveness, which is derived from the phrase [ stick it to it ] + -ive + -ness.Besides derivational suffixation, words from other lexical categories can be convertedstraight to nouns (without any overt morphological indication) by aconversionprocess(also known as zero derivation). For example, the word run is a verb but it can beconverted to a noun run "point scored in a baseball game (by running around the bases)"as in the sentence:The team won with five runs in the ninth.