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Ory's writing notes: The Noun.

Published by OJB in the blog OJB's blog. Views: 218

Before I post this I want to say these are my notes from a grammar class I've been taking. My grammar skills are a little rough so I felt the first step I should take was to get a better handle on basic grammar. These are just notes and personal thoughts and are not meant to be the end-all of grammar rules.


The great and powerful noun! The noun, along with the verb, is the most powerful word you can use. The more powerful the noun, the more powerful your sentence will be; the more powerful your sentence, the more powerful your story will be, and we should all strive for powerful stories.

What is a noun?

A noun is a word that names a person, place, thing, (Concrete nouns) idea, or emotion (Abstractions). A noun can be used as a noun, an adjective, and a verb (careful with this last one. While all nouns can be used as verbs, the use must be appropriate. I'll get to this in the verb section.)


Concrete nouns. Nouns can be seen, heard, touched, tasted, and smelled.

Person: Bob, Mary, Doctor, Lawyer.

Place: Spain, France, Paris, New York City, home, bar.

Thing: Medicine, book, lamp, car, truck, bed, cookie.

Abstraction Nouns. Nouns that can only be talked about, they are intangible.

Idea: Law, Freedom, Justice, Liberty.

Emotions: Love, Hate, Joy, Pain, Misery, Sadness.

Concrete vs Abstraction: Concrete Nouns are powerful and strong and paint an image in the reader's mind. Abstractions don't.... and never will. Let's take a look at a simple example.

Abstraction: My suffering is a woeful pain. (Yes, I've read shit like this before.) This is a very weak sentence, and the sad thing is I review stuff like this all the time. I am not saying don't ever use abstraction nouns, I am saying don't use them like the above example. Let's us take a look at a concrete example of suffering and woeful pain.

Concrete: Bobby broke her ankle when she tripped on a rock. (Now we got concrete nouns and some action verbs.)

When can I use abstractions? Dialogue.

Common nouns vs. Proper Nouns.

Common nouns name everyday persons, places, and things. Examples: boy, girl, banana, apple, cookie, beer.

Proper Nouns names individual persons, places, and things. They are always capitalized (Every word). Example: Blue Moon White Ale Beer, James Smith, Mary Smith, Bartlett Apples.

Plural nouns.

There are some simple, and not so simple, rules on how to make your nouns plural (Meaning there is more than one.)

Rule # 1: Most nouns just add an S. Cats, Cows, Dogs, Trains.

Rule # 2: Nouns that end in an S, SH, X, CH, or Z add ES. Foxes, Buses.

Rule # 3: Nouns that end if F or FE will either Add S, or they will change the F or FE to a V and add ES. Roof-Roofs. Elf-Elves.

Rule # 4: Nouns that end in a vowel + y add S. Keys.

Rules # 5: Nouns that end in vowel + O add S: Oreos.

Rules # 6: Nouns that end in Consonant + Y, changes the Y to an I and add ES.

Rule # 7 (This one should be crowned king of confusion.) Nouns that end in a Consonant + O adds ES, with the exceptions of Words from Foreign languages, Musical terms, Proper nouns and Words that are short forms of longer words (Photograph = Photo) all add S to the end. Examples of each

Normal: Potato = Potatoes
Foreign languages: Taco = Tacos
Musical Terms: Cello = Cellos
Proper Nouns: Eskimo = Eskimos
Short forms: Photo = Photos

Rule # 8: Some nouns are irregular and form plurals in strange ways.

Examples: Man (singular) = Men (Plural.)
Elk, fish, deer = Both singular and plural.
Pants, shorts = Always plural
Child = Children.

Irregular plurals with Latin and Greek words.

This one took me a while to get, but here is my cheat sheet. I'd like to stress that these are not officials rules, but patterns I noticed and made a note of. (always uses a dictionary if you are not sure.)

Rules # 1: If the word ends in an A, add an E to it to make it plural. (Amoeba = Amoebae.)

Rule # 2: If the word ends in an US, drop the US and add an I to make it Plural (Fungus = Fungi)

Rules # 3: words that end in EUS, drop the US and add I. (Nucleus = Nuclei.)

Rules # 4: Words that end in IS change it to ES. (Analysis = Analyses.)

Rules # 5: Words the end in ON, drop the ON and add an A. (Phenomenon = Phenomena.)

Now I know we have spell check and Grammar check apps and programs, but we also have a brain, so use it.

Compound Nouns.

Some nouns are compound. When making them plural add an S to the part that is plural, not the whole noun. They come in three forms.

Single word: Lighthouse/ Lighthouses

Two words: Light bulb/ Light bulbs

Hyphenated: Brother-in-Law/ Brothers-in-Law (Notice the brothers is plural, not the -Law.)

Collective Nouns.

A collective noun names a group. Murder of crows, herd of cows, school of fish.

BEWARE of plurals. Making a noun of plural, might make it a group, but it does not make it a collective noun. A trick to know if a noun is collective or not is by put one in front of it. One herd is still a group. One cow is not a group.

It is important to know when it is a collective noun or not when it comes to verb usage.

Possessive nouns.

Possessive nouns show ownership.

Rule # 1: Add a 's to the end of the noun to make it possessive. Example: Dog's (You have one dog that owns something.)

Rule # 2: If you have added an S to make the word plural, don't add 's to it, just add the '. Dogs' (you have two dogs that own something.)

Rule # 3: If two people own something TOGETHER, use a 's after the second person. Mike and Mary's bed.

Rules # 4: If Two people each own their own of something, they both get a 's. Mike's and Mary's cars.

Rule # 5: All possessive nouns act as adjectives.

Rule # 6: If they possessive noun is plural, the noun that are describing must be plural as well. The Dogs' bones.


Final thoughts on Nouns: Here end my notes on the powerful noun. But why are nouns so important in writing? In essence, to paint a picture for the reader to experience we must use concrete nouns to give them a powerful image. I'd like to note that my use of the term 'Image' doesn't mean just a visible aid, sounds, touch, smell, and taste are also images. I'd like to give an example.

Abstract statement: Katie and I went on a date. (date is an abstraction.)

Concrete statement: At dinner, which consisted of garlic chicken and butter-baked asparagus, Katie wore a black Martini Dress and smelled of perfume. As we ate, a pianist played Billy Joel songs.

Now the second example I give paints a much better picture for the reader. We have taste, sight, smell, and sound in these two sentences, all of which are made up of concrete nouns.

Next will be Pronouns.
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