Types of Nouns
There are many different types of nouns. We capitalise some of them, like London, Tuesday or Elizabeth while we do not capitalise others unless they appear at the start of a sentence. There is a whole series of noun types and a noun will belong to more than one type: it will be proper or common, abstract or concrete, and countable or uncountable or collective. Let us take a look at 4 other types of nouns first, then we will deal with the rest by the pairs.
Most common nouns like teacher, accountant, lawyer can refer to both men or women. In the old days, some nouns would change form depending on their gender but this use of gender-specific nouns is not so common today.
Those still in use tend to refer to occupational categories for example, author/authoress, actor/actress, waiter/waitress.
Most nouns change their form to indicate number by adding “-s”. Nouns that end with a “hissing” sound or end in “o” form the plural by adding “-es”. Nouns ending in “f” or “fe” form the plural by deleting the “f” or “fe” and adding “ves”. Words ending in “y” form the plural by deleting the “y” and adding “ies” unless the “y” ending is preceded by a vowel. For examples: cat/cats, match/matches, leaf/leaves, wife/wives, pony/ponies, boy/boys, toy/toys.
Other nouns form the plural irregularly. For example: man/men, child/children, foot/feet, mouse/mice, ox/oxen, sheep/sheep, person/people. Since there is no “s” at the ending of such plural nouns, you will have to add apostrophe “s” (‘s) to make it possessive.
So you can say there is no fixed rule in this category of nouns. Have a good dictionary at hand to help you when in doubt.
In the possessive case, a noun or pronoun changes its form to show that it owns or closely related to something else. You usually form the possessive case of a singular noun by adding apostrophe and the letter “s” (‘s) and for singular noun ending in “s” to add an apostrophe (‘) or apostrophe and “s” (‘s). For example: the boy’s ball, the bus’s seats, Ross’ shirt.
You can form the possessive case of a plural noun that does not end in “s” by adding apostrophe and “s” (‘s) as: children’s toys, people’s home.
You can form the possessive case of a plural noun that does end in “s” by adding an apostrophe(‘) : wives’ dresses, waitresses’ lunch boxes.
Note: Although we can use “of” to show possession, it is more usual to use possessive apostrophe and “s” (‘s). For example; the friend of my father / my father’s friend. The second example is more natural.
A collective noun is a noun naming a group of things, places, animals, or people. You could count the individual members of the group, but you usually think of the group as one unit. You need to be able to recognise collective nouns in order to maintain subject-verb agreement. A collective noun is similar to an uncountable noun, and is roughly the opposite of a countable noun.
For example: A herd of cattle crosses the river (“herd” is a collective noun in a singular form even though we are talking about many, therefore the word “crosses” (verb) has to be in singular form as well.
(This is subject-verb agreement or concord meaning agreement or harmony – this subject will be touched on later)