At this stage, we are still just exploring the eight parts of speech. The first is the noun. Above, we learned that nouns serve to name things, people, places, ideas, feelings, and other abstractions. One way to test a word to see if it’s acting as a noun is to make it plural or add a possessive ending. If those changes work (and the word is not a pronoun), then the word is a noun.
We reviewed three main functions of nouns:
1. grammatical subjects
2. objects of verbs or prepositions
3. complements or predicate nouns
Every sentence has a subject, which joins with a verb to form the two basic parts of the sentence: the subject and the predicate.
Nouns also serve as objects. If the subject joins with a transitive verb, then we can have yet another noun stick directly onto that verb. That noun will receive the action of the verb, and we call it the direct object. Nouns are also helped up onto the backs of sentences with the little word known as the preposition. The noun sticking to the preposition is called the object of the preposition.
If the subject joins with the verb to be, then another noun can hook directly to the verb to be. That noun will restate the subject of the sentence, and we call it the complement or the predicate noun.
We thus get three main functions of nouns: subjects, objects, and complements. There are others, and we’ll explore them below.
Finally, we tucked away some thoughts in our discussion above. We saw that nouns act as subjects and, when they follow the verb to be, as complements or predicate nouns. These subjective uses of nouns give rise to another rule we’ll encounter when we study pronouns:
A personal pronoun taking the place of a noun that acts as a subject or a complement (or predicate noun) must appear in the subjective case.
We also saw that nouns act as objects, so we tucked another thought away:
When personal pronouns take the place of nouns acting as objects, those pronouns must appear in the objective case.
You can learn more about pronoun case in the Grammar.com section on pronouns. Click here for the beginning of that discussion.
A full discussion also appears in the eBook Common Grammatical Mistakes.
You may download our entire discussion of the Parts of Speech. Simply download the Grammar eBook Understanding the Parts of Speech.
Previous: Groups of Words Acting as Nouns
Next: Nouns - What They Do - A Closer Look