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Noun functions - What They Do - A Closer Look

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  Ed Good  —  Grammar Tips
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Above, we learned about three functions of the noun: subjects, objects, and complements. But nouns perform 10 functions in our language, and good writers take advantage of all of them. When you finish this more detailed discussion, you’ll start playing around with a structure called the noun absolute. All great writers use it. So should you.

Noun Functions - 10 Functions

Nouns Redux

Above, we explored the major functions of nouns in our language:

1. subjects 2. complements 3. objects

Now, in this closer look, we want to review these roles and expand the list of functions nouns serve.

Nouns serve 10 functions in the English language. I’ll first list them, and then we’ll explore each one separately.

Take a look at the 10 functions of nouns. Notice that the first five are “verb dependent,” that is, the noun must have a verb to perform the listed function. Notice that number 6 requires a preposition for the noun to serve its function. Thus, notice that the first 6 functions reveal that the noun depends on other parts of speech for it to serve its role:

Noun Functions

1. Subjects of Sentences

2. Subject Complements (“Predicate Nouns” or “Predicate Nominatives”)

3. Direct Objects of Transitive Verbs

4. Objects of Verbal Phrases

5. Indirect Objects

6. Objects of Prepositions

7. Noun Appositives

8. Noun Modifiers

9. Noun Adverbs

10. Noun Absolutes

Now, consider the following sentence. In it you’ll find all 10 functions the noun performs in the English language:

The professor, John Smith, is the noun expert, so yesterday he gave the class his views on the importance of learning to write papers clearly, his students feverishly taking notes on all he said.

Hard Copy

You may download our entire discussion of the Parts of Speech. Simply download the Grammar eBook Understanding the Parts of Speech.


Previous: A General Summary of Nouns

Next: Noun Function 1 - Subjects of Sentences or Clauses

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