Basic English Grammar: Nouns

Probably once or twice during your Elementary School days, you learned the difference between nouns, pronouns and subject-verbs. Over the years of being in and out of education, I have noticed that here in the United States, students of learning tend to forget basic grammar. Myself included. 

Two years ago, a English graduate student teacher recommend me a handbook that I am now getting to work on. You can order this book online on their website. The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation also has an online section for quizzes and the like.  Because of my learning style, I have started taking notes and then practicing when I can in my writings.

Before we begin, If you ever see (Blue Book) in parenthesis, I am referring to a quote from The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation.  I will however, give different examples than what the Blue Book provided as much as  I can. Some examples, I will let you know if they are from the Blue Book. I will be breaking down the “Grammar” Section into multiple blogs, to where this won’t get lengthy, as a blog post.


A noun is a word or set of words for a person, place, thing, or idea (Blue Book).

A noun of more than one word is a compound noun (Blue Book).
Examples: Water Tank, Bedroom

Nouns, have always been the easiest to label for me. “Person, Place, Thing? Gotcha.” If you can recall, English language typically goes deeper than the basics of “hey, here’s this structural English concept. We also have this-” and if you were able to grasp the basic of nouns & compound nouns, let’s look at Common nouns and proper nouns.

Common nouns are for general class of people, places, things, and ideas (Blue Book). The biggest takeaway from common nouns, is that they are not capitalized. Sometimes, I still think I should capitalize the word “city.” It’s informally incorrect grammar to capitalize the word city; unless you live in New York City, or Oklahoma City.

Proper nouns name specific people, places, and things. Another key factor here (that separates the different between common nouns and proper) is that proper nouns are always capitalized. For example, New York City and Oklahoma City are excellent examples of proper nouns for places.

Regular nouns are nouns that form their plurals by adding either the letter s or -es (Blue Book). The example that the Blue Book provides are excellent, so I will reuse them here:
letter – letters

actress – actresses

In the simplest way for me to explain, an irregular (plural) noun is an irregular noun in the plural form. Irregular nouns become plural plural by changing their spelling.

Rules for writing with nouns: 

These examples are my favorite from the Blue Book:

1. Show plural possession with regular nouns, add an apostrophe after the s.
Correct: guys’ night out (guy + s + apostrophe)
Incorrect: guy’s night out (implies only one guy)

2. Do not use an apostrophe + s to make a regular noun plural.
Incorrect: We’ve had many happy Christmas’s.
Correct: We’ve had many happy Christmases.

3. Irregular plural nouns and apostrophes

Incorrect: the teeths’ roots
Correct: the teeth’s roots

4. Proper names and apostrophes (This one trips me up all the time)
Incorrect: the Hasting’s dog
Correct: the Hastingses’ dog (Hastings + es + apostrophe)
Yes, the last name in this example from the Blue Book is Hastings. I thought it was okay to have Hasting’s when you were to add the apostrophe, but I am wrong.
I’ll provide the second example the book provided so you can understand the Proper name and apostrophe example, again.
Incorrect: the Jones’ car
Correct: the Joneses‘ car

5. Never use an apostrophe to make a name plural.
Incorrect: The Wilson’s are here.
Correct: The Wilsons are here.

Thank you for taking the time for reading this short article on the English language. While I was typing in these examples, WordPress was wanting to correct the correct ones to the incorrect ones. Interesting! What are some issues you have with nouns? Next Wednesday, I plan on continuing to work out of the Blue Book, with more grammar examples and rules.


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