• Nouns are characterized by four properties gender, number, person and case.

(1)   Gender of Nouns:

  • A noun has four genders—

1.     Masculine Gender

2.     Feminine Gender

3.     Common Gender

4.     Neuter Gender

1)    Masculine Gender:

A noun that denotes a male is called Masculine Gender, as such; Man, father, grandfather, boy, horse, king, monk, rooster etc. 

2)    Feminine Gender:

A noun that denotes a female is called Feminine Gender, as such; women. Girls,

3)    Common Gender:

All living beings are either of the male or the female sex. So a noun that denotes either of male or a female is of the common noun as such; baby, person, thief, child, student, parent etc.

4)    Neuter Gender:

A noun that denotes a thing which is neither male nor female is called neuter gender. Normally, nouns referring to lifeless objects; as, book, house, pencil, chair, table, star, mountain, street, car, school, paper, computer are few of the neuter nouns which we use regularly.  

The following points may be noted carefully in the study of the gender;

a)     Neater gender is applied to names of lifeless things. So generally material and abstract nouns are of the neuter gender e.g.

1.      Water changes its shape when it became ice.

2.     Virtue is its reward.

b)    Collection nouns even when they denote living things, are considered of the neuter gender; as,

1.     The jury gave its verdict.

c)     Young children and lower animals may also be spoken of as of the neuter gender; as,

1.     The baby sucked its tail and ran forward.

d)    Lifeless objects are sometimes personified, especially in poetry. It means that they are spoken of as living beings. Then they are regarded as males or females.

e)     The masculine gender is applied to things known for their strength and violence; as,

                            The Sun, Time, Death, War, summer, winter, etc.

1.     The Sun sends us warmth through his rays.

2.     Death lays his icy hands on kings too.

f)      The feminine gender is applied to things known for their beauty, grace and gentleness; as,

1.     The moon, the earth, spring, nature, truth, justice.

2.     Peace, victory, hope, mercy, charity, etc.

3.     Spring has spread her green carpet everywhere.

(1)  Number of Nouns:

A noun which denotes one person or thing is singular number.

A noun which denotes more than one person or thing is plural number.

Change of Number

1)    Some nouns have the same form both in the singular and the plural; as sheep, deer, fish, wheat, fruit, jury

2)    The following nouns have the same form for plural when they are used after numerals; as pair, dozen, score, gross, hundred, thousand. However, if the number is not given, s may be added, e.g.

i)                   There were five hundred guests.

ii)                There were hundreds of guests.

3)    Some nouns are used only in the singular; as furniture, luggage, scenery, poetry, information, bunting, fruit, and advice.

4)    Some nouns are used only in the plural; as tongs, scissors, spectacles, bellows(instruments), trousers, breeches(dress) measles, mumps(diseases), billiards, droughts (games), assets, annals, thanks, tidings, environs, nuptials

5)    Some nouns are plural in appearance but singular in use; as Mathematics, Physics, Economics, Mechanics, politics, News, innings, Summons, etc.

6)    Some collective nouns though singular in form are always used as plural; as cattle, people, gentry, poultry, vermin, etc.

7)    Some nouns have different meaning in the singular and the plural ; as 

8)     Some nouns have two forms for the plurals each with different meaning; as,  

9)    Some nouns have two meaning in the singular, but only one in the plural; as, 

10)   Some nouns have one meaning in the singular, two in the plural; as,  

(1)    Cases of Nouns:

The relation in which a noun stands to some other word or the change of form by which this relation is indicated is called its case;

There are five cases in English- Nominative, Objective, Possessive, Dative and Vocative. But in Modern Grammar ‘dative’ is   included in Objective. Hence there are four cases in English.

1.      When a noun or pronoun is used as the subject of a verb, it is said to be in the Nominative Case

2.      When noun or pronoun is used as the object of a verb. It is said to be in the Objective or Accusative Case.

Note: To find the nominative, ‘who’?  ‘What’? Should be put before the verb and its subject; as,

a)      Boys flew kits.

b)      Scorpion bit the boy.

  In sentence 1, the noun ‘boys’ is the subject. It is the answer to the question ‘who flew kites?’ what did the boys fly?  ‘Kites’ is the object which the boys flew. The noun ‘kites’ is therefore called the object.

In sentence 2, the noun ‘scorpion’ is the subject. It is answer to the question—-‘who bit the boy?’ the noun ‘boy’ is the object. It is answer to the question ‘whom did the scorpion bite?’ a noun which comes after a preposition, is also said to be in the Accusative case; as,

a)      The books are on the table.

                  Here the noun ‘table’ is in the Accusative case governed by the preposition ‘on’.

 Note: The noun in English have the same form for the nominative and the accusative. The nonnative generally comes before the verb and the accusative after the verb. They are thus distinguished by the order of the words or by the sense.

3.      The possessive case denotes ownership or possession or relationship or authorship. The possessive answers the question—-‘whose?’ as, this is Omar’s bike. (Possession).

There are Ghalib`s poetry book. (Authorship)

A mother`s love is a noble thing. (Relationship)

4.      The Vocative Case is practically a nominative of address:

Come here Ali. Come on, boys.

Note:  The forms of nouns remain the same in the nominative case, objective case and vocative case. But the form is changed only in the possessive case.


Leave a Comment