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Basic Rules

This is a quick, basic grammar review for nouns, verbs, and it is sometimes confusing the usage of the word "lay" versus "lie", and  "rise "versus  "raise". This reference can be used for term papers, grammar class reviews, or simply for anyone confused or curious about the basics of English grammar.


1. Noun identification
 2. Count, Mass, and Collective Nouns
 3. Plural and Possessive Nouns

Noun Identification

What is a noun? A noun is name of a person, place, thing, quality, animal, idea or activity.

For example:
 Person — Maria
 Place — Detroit
 Thing — Desk
 Quality — Width
 Animal — Dog
 Idea — Independence
 Activity — Navigation

Spot the nouns in a sentence: Maria went into the city to purchase detergent.

Nouns: Person — Maria
 Place — City
 Thing — Detergent

The functions of nouns

Nouns sometimes function differently in sentences. For example:
 Subject: Maria likes ice cream
 Object of Preposition: He gave the ice cream to Maria
 Subject complement: The best customer is Maria

Grammar vocabulary: Nominal means any word, or group of words, used as a noun. The nominal word used in the original noun example is Maria.

Types of Nouns

The names of specific things, places, and people, like Maria or Detroit, are Proper nouns.

General, colloquial names, like table or house are Common nouns. Common nouns can either be concrete, or abstract.

When an object is concrete i.e. you can see it and touch it, like a phone or a chair, it is a Concrete noun.

When it is a quality or idea, like freedom or justice, it is an Abstract noun.

Count Nouns

Count nouns are anything that can be counted. They are singular or plural. Plurals usually end with “s.”

Singular — Car
 Plural — Cars

Singular — Chair
 Plural — Chairs

Singular — Dog
 Plural — Dogs

Irregular Examples

Singular — Mouse
 Plural — Mice

Singular — Child
 Plural — Children

Most nouns ending in s, sh, o, or ch need an -es suffix to be plural

Singular — Bus
 Plural — Busses

Singular — Dish
 Plural — Dishes

Singular — Potato
 Plural — Potatoes

Singular — Church
 Plural — Churches

Nouns ending in a consonant followed by y become plural by changing the y to i and adding -es

Singular — Mystery
 Plural — Mysteries

Mass Nouns are nouns that cannot be counted and they usually do not have a plural form

Examples: Freedom, sand, money

Collective nouns refer to groups of people and/or things. Unlike mass nouns, they can usually be counted, so they usually have plural forms.


Singular — Staff
 Plural — Staffs

Singular — Herd
 Plural — Herds

Plural Nouns

Plural nouns are the nouns that have been changed into their plural states by adding -s or -es. Remember your irregular nouns, such as mice and children! They too are plural nouns.

Possessive Nouns

Nouns can be possessive and express ownership, usually following the use of “of.”

Example: The life of Maria

Most singular possessives are formed by adding an apostrophe and “s.” If the noun is plural, the possessive form becomes “s” and apostrophe.

Singular Common: Dog
 Singular Possessive: Dog’s
 Plural Common: Dogs
 Singular Possessive: Dogs’

Exception: if the plural noun does not end with an “s,” the possessive is formed by adding apostrophe and “s.”


Singular Common: Woman
 Singular Possessive: Woman’s
 Plural Common: Women
 Plural Possessive: Women’s


A pronoun is a word takes the place of a noun.

Example: Maria wondered if she was late for work.

Maria is the antecedent of “she.” Instead of saying: Maria wondered if Maria was late for work, “she” appears to take the place of “Maria.”

The Nine forms of Pronouns:

Personal, possessive, indefinite, reflexive, reciprocal, intensive, interrogative, relative, and demonstrative.

The pronoun must always agree with antecedent, so if the antecedent is male, the pronoun must be male, if the antecedent is plural, the pronoun must be plural, etc.


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