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Introduction to nouns

A noun is a word that describes a person, place, thing, or idea. Examples of nouns include names, locations, objects in the physical world, or objects and concepts that do not exist in the physical world; for example, a dream or a theory.

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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] Hello grammarians. Welcome to the English parts of speech. We're gonna begin with the noun, the lovely wonderful noun, your friend and mine. They're mostly what you're gonna encounter in sentences. Most sentences in English contain at least one noun or a pronoun, but we'll get to pronouns later. A noun is basically anything. And I know that's not an especially helpful definition, but we'll get more specific in a minute. A noun is basically anything at all. Now the way this is taught in traditional grammar is to say that a noun is a person, place or thing, which is fine, I think we can make that a little bit sharper and expand that out by saying that they are, that nouns are people or living things, places, things, or ideas. I think ideas is the one that usually gets left out. So nouns can be people, places, things and ideas. Let's put that in action. So, this is Raul. He is from Argentina. He is a penguin. Raul has big dreams. Now, okay. So, I wanna take these three sentences and find the noun in them using the test. So the test is, is it a person or a living thing, a place, a thing, or an idea? And if it's any of those things, then it falls into the category of words in English which we call nouns. So, sentence number one. This is Raul. What is Raul? Well, Raul is a person or a living thing so we're just gonna say person so noun. Next sentence. He is from Argentina. Now Argentina happens to be a place so therefore, it is also a noun. It's a kind of noun called a proper noun, just like Raul is but we'll get to that later. So, Argentina is a noun. Argentina incidentally is a country and the word country is also a noun because it is a thing. So, sentence the third. He is a penguin. Now, a penguin is a living being or a thing so we can say oh yes, penguin, that is a noun as well. So, you've noticed I'm not circling he or this. These words are pronouns, relative pronouns, and they can sometimes behave like nouns, but I wouldn't call them nouns. That'll just get confusing. So, these are pronouns and we'll get to them later. Sentence number four. Raul has big dreams. So, here we have Raul again. We know from the first sentence that it's a person's name. So, we're just gonna say this is also a noun again. And dreams. Now, dreams isn't a person, a place. It's a thing, sure. The reason I put in idea as a fourth category is to get it stuff that you can't pick up. Like for example, so dream, yes, dream is a noun. Dream is maybe a little tangible 'cause it's something you can imagine, but the idea of like a word like bigness. Or if you prefer, you know, size. The size of Raul's plumage was astonishing. Look at that gorgeous plumage. It's a little penguin mohawk. (high-pitched murmurs) The size of Raul's plumage was astounding. Now in that sentence, size is a noun, but it's not a physical thing, it's not a person, it's not a place, it's not something you can pick up. It's an idea. So, that's why I include this fourth category. So, if you're trying to figure out whether or not a word is a noun, just apply this test. Ask yourself, is it a person, a place, a thing, or an idea? And you, my friend, will be golden. You can learn anything. David out.