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Grammar Tutorial – Nouns

Nouns probably cause you the least problems … they simply refer to persons, places, things or actions that are part of your everyday life. When you refer to no particular persons, places, things, or actions you use common nouns. These are not capitalized. Here are some examples of common nouns:

    

person – teacher                   place – street                                        thing – symbol

action – talking & writing

Of course, we often refer to a particular person, place or thing. In that case, we mention them by their by names. These are always capitalized. For example:

             

person – Nancy                place – Vancouver       thing – Nokia

Here is the tricky part of using nouns in writing … spelling the plural form of nouns. You have to remember a whole bunch of rules – 7 to be exact – for spelling the plural form of different nouns. Let me identify the rules and show how they are used.
Rule 1. Most nouns form the plural by adding an ‘s’. Thank goodness, this applies to most nouns!
For example, if I borrowed one book from the library I would write:
  • I borrowed one book from the library. (singular)
On the other hand, if I borrowed two books from the library, I would write:
  • I borrowed two books from the library. (plural)
Rule 2. Nouns ending with a ‘y’ preceded by a vowel form the plural by adding the letter ’s’. You may remember that the English alphabet has 5 vowels: a, e, i, o, u.
For example, if I had one key in my pocket, I would write:
  • I have one key in my pocket. (singular)
However, if I have several keys (more than one) in my pocket, I would write:
  • I have several keys in my pocket. (plural)
Rule 3. Nouns ending in ‘ss’, ’ch, ‘sh’, ‘s’, or ‘x’ form the plural by adding ‘es’. Simply memorize this list of endings. The list of words using these endings is very long.
a)     Example for ‘ss’ ending:
If I attended one math class, I would write:
  • I attended one math class today. (singular for ‘ss’ ending)
However, if I attended 15 math classes this term, I would write:
  • I attended 15 classes this term. (Plural for ‘ss’ ending)
b)    Example for ‘ch’ ending:
If I received one watch for my birthday, I would write:
  • I received a watch for my birthday. (singular for ‘ch’ ending)
However, if I received two watches for my birthday, I would write:
  • I received two watches for my birthday. (plural for ‘ch’ ending)
c)     Example for ‘sh’ ending:
If I broke one dish today, I would write:
  • I broke one dish today. (singular for ‘sh’ ending)
However, if I broke two dishes today, I would write:
  • I broke two dishes today. (plural for ‘sh’ ending)
d)    Example for ‘s’ ending:
If I smelled gas in my basement, I would write:
  • I smelled gas in my basement. (singular for ‘s’ ending)
However, if the firemen smelled several gases in my basement, I would write:
  • The firemen smelled several different gases in my basement. (plural for ‘s’ ending)
e)    Example for ‘x’ ending:
If I need one box to store my toys, I would write:
  • I need one box to store my toys. (singular for ‘x’ ending)
However, if I need 3 boxes to store my toys, I would write:
  • I need 3 boxes to store my toys. (plural for ‘x’ ending)
Rule 4. Here is a tricky one. Some nouns ending in ‘o’ form the plural by adding ‘es’, but some add only ‘s’. All you can do is to memorize which words require ‘es’ for the plural form and which require only the letter ‘s’. Here are some examples.
If I add one photo to my photo album, I would write:
  • I will add one photo to my album. (singular for ‘o’ ending)
However, if I add 5 photos, I would write:
  • I will add 5 photos to my album. (plural for ‘s’ ending)
If our school has one piano, I would write:
  • Our school has one piano. (singular for ‘o’ ending)
However, if our school has two pianos, I would write:
  • Our school has two pianos. (plural for ‘o’ ending)
If there was one hero in the story, I would write:
  • There was only one hero in the story. (singular for ‘o’ ending)
However, if there were 3 heroes in the story, I would write:
  • There were 3 heroes in the story. (plural for ‘o’ ending)
If I have only one potato for dinner, I would write:
  • I had only one potato for dinner. (singular for ‘o’ ending)
However, if I have 2 potatoes for dinner, I would write:
  • I had 2 potatoes for dinner. (plural for ‘o’ ending)
Rule 5. This rule is complicate! Nouns ending in a consonant plus ‘y’ form the plural by changing the ‘y’ to ‘i’ and adding ‘es’. Look at this example.
If I write about my country, I would write:
  • My country is very big. (singular)
However, if I write about many countries, I would write:
  • Many countries are smaller than mine. (I replace the ‘y’ with ‘i’ and add ‘es’.) (plural)
Rule 6. Some common nouns have irregular plurals. Simply memorize the plural spelling for these words. Look at these examples.
If I refer to one child, I would write:
  • I saw a hungry child on the street. (singular)
However, if I saw many hungry children on the street, I would say:
  • I saw many hungry children on the street. (I added ‘ren’ to ‘child’.) (plural)
If I met a man on my way to the store, I would write:
  • I met a man on my way to the store. (singular)
However, if I met 3 men on my way to the store, I would write:
  • I met 3 men on my way to the store. (I replaced ‘a’ with ‘e’.) (plural)
If a woman helped me find my glasses when I fell off my bicycle, I would write:
  • A woman helped me find my glasses when I fell off my bicycle. (singular)
However, if two women helped me find my glasses when I fell off my bicycle, I would write:
  • Two women helped me find my glasses when I fell off my bicycle. (I replaced ‘a’ with ‘e’.) (plural)
If I broken tooth, I would write:
  • I broke a tooth when I fell off my bicycle. (singular)
However, if I broke two teeth, I would write:
  • I broke two teeth when I fell off my bicycle. (I replaced ‘oo’ with ‘ee’.) (plural)
If my mother discovered one mouse in our basement, I would write:
  • My mother discovered a mouse in our basement. (singular)
However, if my mother discovered two mice in our basement, I would write:
  • My mother discovered two mice in our basement. (I replaced ‘ou’ with ‘i’.) (plural)
Rule 7. Other Irregular plural. Some words have only a plural form. The explanation is quite simple. These words refer to objects which have two parts to them. Look at these examples:
  • ‘Scissors and shears’ each have two sharp blades.
  • Pliers’ have two fingers with which to grip an object.
  •  ‘Eye glasses’ have two lenses.
  • ‘Jeans, pyjamas, pants and tights’ each have two legs.
Just remember that each object has a pair (two) of something.
Here is one more thing to remember about these words. Since they are the plural form, they must be used with the plural form of the verb in the sentence.
  • Pliers are helpful tools. (‘Pliers’ is a plural noun, and ‘are’ is the plural form of the verb ‘is’.)
That’s a lot to remember about plural nouns. Copy the Chart at the end of this Lesson and post it in a place where you can see it when you write. I used to post the grammar rules on the wall facing my desk. That might work for you as well.
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Try the following activities to find out how well you understand nouns:
After you have watched this Lesson, go to www.sponsoravillage.ca, for the NOTES, ASSIGNMENT and ANSWER KEY on NOUNS.
  1. Go to GRAMMAR in the top navigation bar and go to NOUNS. – click on it.

To send any questions you may have about grammar, go to www.sponsoravillage.ca and click on ASK Dr. OTTO. I will reply to your questions as quickly as possible.

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Plural Nouns Chart

Rule 1. Most nouns form the plural by adding an ‘s’.

I borrowed one book from the library. (singular)

I borrowed two books from the library. (plural)

 

Rule 2. Nouns ending with ‘y’ preceded by a vowel form the plural by adding the letter ’s’.

I have one key in my pocket. (singular)

I have several keys in my pocket. (plural)

 

Rule 3. Nouns ending in ‘ss’, ’ch, ‘sh’, ‘s’, or ‘x’ form the plural by adding ‘es’.

  • ‘ss’ ending:

Class/classes – I attended 15 classes this term. (plural)

  • ‘ch’ ending:

Watch/watches – I received two watches for my birthday. (plural)

  • ‘sh’ ending:

Dish/dishes – I broke two dishes today. (plural)

  • ‘s’ ending:

Gas/gases – The firemen smelled several gases in my basement. (plural)

  • ‘x’ ending:

Box/boxes – I need 3 boxes to store my toys. (plural)

 

Rule 4. Some nouns ending in ‘o’ form the plural by adding ‘es’, but some add only ‘s’.

I will add one photo to my album. (singular)

  • Piano/pianos – Our school has two pianos. (plural)

  • Hero/heroes – There were 3 heroes in the story. (plural)

 

Rule 5. Nouns ending in a consonant plus ‘y’ form the plural: change the ‘y’ to ‘i’ and adding ‘es’.

Country/countries – Many countries are smaller than mine. (plural)

 

Rule 6. Some common nouns have irregular plurals.

Child/children – I saw many hungry children on the street. (add ‘ren’ to ‘child’.)

Man/men – I met 3 men on my way to the store. (replace ‘a’ with ‘e’.)

Woman/women – Two women helped me find my glasses. (replace ‘a’ with ‘e’.)

Tooth/teeth – I broke two teeth when I fell. (replace ‘oo’ with ‘ee’.)

Mouse/mice – My mother discovered two mice in our basement. (replace ‘ou’ with ‘i’.)

 

Rule 7. Some words have only a plural form. They refer to objects which have two parts. They need the plural form of the verb.

‘Scissors each have two sharp blades. (Scissors – plural; have – plural)

‘Eye glasses’ have two lenses. (Eye glasses – plural; have – plural)

‘Jeans, pyjamas have two legs. (Jeans – plural; have – plural)

Pliers are helpful tools. (‘Pliers’- plural; ‘are’ plural)