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Nouns – The Basics

  1. Nouns
    Nouns are basically naming words, which name people, places, things or concepts. For instance, words such as doctor, Susan, restaurant, Tokyo, city, chair, pencil, knowledge, and courage name different things or concepts.
     
    Study the following sentences in which nouns are italicized and understand what person/place/concept they name.
  • The defender from the team of England described how the match with South Africa won the acclaim of even competitors
  • Scientists believe that Coelacanth, a rare fish also known as living fossil, share common ancestors with lungfish and some terrestrial vertebrates.
  1. Types of Nouns
    Nouns can be divided into different groups basing on nature of what they name. The following is a brief discussion of the classification of nouns.
    1. Concrete nouns
      Names of things that have physical existence are concrete nouns.
      Ex: Water, iron, student, man, jam
      Depending on whether the things named can be counted or not, concrete nouns can be of two types.
      1. ​​Non-count nouns: The names of things which cannot be counted are called non-count nouns. For example, Water, sugar, iron, sand, etc. refer to things that cannot be counted.
         
        Nouns of this kind generally do not have plural forms. Most of the abstract nouns usually fall into this category.
      2. Count nouns: The names of the concrete things which can be counted are called count nouns. These nouns are generally in two forms: singular and plural forms. Nouns, such as pen, book, student, country, city etc., refer to objects or things that can be counted.
    2. Abstract nouns
      The names given to those things which are not perceived by our senses are called abstract nouns. Naming words, such as Knowledge, wisdom, patience, cruelty, experience etc belong to such category.
      These nouns do not have plural forms when used in general sense. They usually do not take articles. However, in restricted sense, we may need to use articles.
       
      Study the following examples.
  • Experience makes us perfect.
  • An experience of two years is not sufficient for this position.
  • Different experiences make our lives rich.
  • A knowledge of mathematics is required for this test.
  1. Proper nouns
    Names given to specific persons and places are proper nouns. In writing, they are started with capital letters.
    Example New York, Mumbai, Roosevelt, Leonardo da Vinci
  2. Common nouns
    Names commonly shared by many are common noun.
    Ex: book, dog, city, river, feature, person, man
  3. Collective nouns
    The names given to groups are collective nouns.
    Example Team, crowd, senate, faculty, jury and family
    We need to note that all the collective nouns are considered singular when collection is being talked about and thus, take singular verb and singular pronoun. However, if individual members are considered, we need to use plural pronouns and plural verbs.
    Study the following examples to understand this concept.
  • His family is quite rich.
  • His family are watching his program on TV.

We will discuss the concept of nouns further from G-matic perspective in a later part of the chapter. However, let’s put your understanding to a test now.

 

Identification of nouns
Identify nouns in the following sentences and identify what kind of nouns they are. Remember, some nouns belong to more than one category and you need to note all these categories.

  1. Cartography, the art and science of creation of maps, was rapidly increasing during 14th and 15th centuries because of the increasing expeditions.
  2. Greek Mythology, the set of traditional tales told by ancient Greeks, describes the exploits of Gods, Goddesses, heroes and heroines and their interactions with mortal humans.
  3. Alan Shepard Jr., born in New Hampshire and educated in Naval Academy, became the first American to enter the space when he travelled to an altitude of 180 kilometers in a sub-orbital flight.
  4. In law, the term bond refers to an agreement that guarantees payment if a specified action or event fails to take place.
  5. Animals living in a desert environment have to cope with losing water from their bodies because of the heat.

 Keys

  1. Cartography – a proper noun; art, science, creation, maps, centuries, expeditions – common nouns.
  2. Greek – proper noun (but it is here describing Mythology and so is functioning as adjective.) Mythology – common noun; set – collective noun; Greeks – proper noun, tales, exploits, Gods, goddesses, heroes, heroines, interactions humans – common nouns.
  3. Alan Shepard Jr., New Hampshire, Naval Academy – proper nouns. American, space – common nouns; altitude, kilometers – abstract nouns.
  4. Law, term, bond, agreement, payment, action, event, place – all common nouns.
  5. Animals, desert, environment, water, bodies, and heat – all are common nouns. Desert – this is a common noun, but is describing environment. Thus, it is an adjective.

  1. Uses of Noun/noun Phrase
    As we have already discussed, words are classified basing on their function in the sentence. Nouns, a part of speech, should serve specific purposes. Given the complexity of the G-matic expressions, you are more likely to find noun phrases than simple nouns. Thus, the following discussion includes not only nouns but also noun phrases.
    1. A noun/noun phrase is used as the subject of the sentence.
      This is the most important function of a noun or noun phrase. Subjects and predicates being the basic parts of a sentence, a sentence is seldom possible without a noun phrase acting as the subject.
       
      Study the following examples in which the noun phrase is italicized for your understanding.
  • Innovative project design may sometimes prove risky to the companies in their incipient stages.
  • An explosion in methodologies for assessing employees’ performance has resulted in various performance scales.

We can easily identify the subject by locating the verb and frame who/what question for that verb. For example, for the first example, the verb is may prove. 

What may sometimes prove risky to the companies
? The answer is innovative product design. This is the subject of the sentence.

  1. A noun/noun phrase is used as the object of the verb.
     
    An object of a verb is something/someone that receives the action denoted by the verb. A noun or noun phrase is to be used as the object of any transitive verb.
     
    Study the following examples, in which the noun phrases functioning as objects are underlined for your understanding.
  • Any company seeking to make its presence global should develop the ability to acquire other firms.
  • Hand measuring in tailoring costly and time consuming, tailoring technology is now using optical technologies to measure perfectly the dimensions of the body.

We can easily identify the object by framing a verb+ what/whom question. In the above example, any company seeking to make its presence global should develop what? The answer is the object of the sentence.

  1. A noun/noun phrase can be used as the complement of a sentence.
     
    A complement is used, to complete the sense of the sentence, after a be form (is/am/are/was/were/be/been) or a linking verb, such as look, seem, sound, remain etc.
     
    Study the following sentences in which the noun phrases in italics are used as complements.
  • Introduction of innovative technology into technologically underdeveloped countries is a risky endeavor that most conservative companies evade.
  • A proto-oncogene is actually a normal gene, which may change itself into an oncogene increasing the probability of cancer.
  1. A noun/noun phrase is used as an object of preposition.
    The noun phrases used after prepositions are called prepositional objects. We have discussed prepositions in the parts of speech chapter which also contains a list of the prepositions. Refresh your memory if necessary.
  • The bill has been passed in spite of widespread dissatisfaction among the members.
  • Described as the magnum opus of the writer, Delillo’s Underworld presents the lives of different characters in turbulent times.
  1. A noun or noun phrase is used as appositive.
    A noun phrase functions as an appositive, a noun or noun phrase that adds more infomation to the noun present immediately before or after it.
    Study the following examples in which the appositives are italicized. Understand how they add infomation to the related noun.
  • Four independent government investigations conclude that Lee Harvey Oswald, a former US marine, was the assassin of John F Kennedy.
  • Francis Crick and James Watson, using images produced by X-ray diffraction patterns of DNA, proposed its structure, an endeavor which won them the Nobel Prize.

A further note on the use of nouns surely deserves our attention.


The complexity of G-matic expression arises from using two or more noun phrases in the same use. For example, two nouns may be used as subjects, objects, complements or appositives. When many nouns are used this way, they need to be parallel. This is a major testing point in G-matic expression.

 

Uses of nouns/noun phrases
Identify the function of the noun phrases italicized in the sentences below.

  1. Oil spillage has a major impact on the ecosystems into which oil is released.
  2. World’s largest wind farm, Thanet Wind farm can produce enough electricity to meet needs of 250,000 households for one year.
  3. Living cells in culture cannot grow unless they are stimulated by growth-stimulating factors present in the culture medium.
  4. Dadaism, a cultural movement that began in Zurich, primarily rejected the prevailing art standards through anti-art cultural works.
  5. Artesian wells, a type of well in which the ground water flows upward without the need for pumping, are very frequently found in Great Artesian Basin of Australia which is the only reliable water source of the continent.

 Keys

  1. The noun phrase a major impact is the complement. The ecosystems into which oil is released is the prepositional object.
  2. The noun phrase is an appositive adding description of the noun present after. It cannot be the subject because the absence of comma between Thanet Wind farm and can produce makes the Thanet wind farm subject.
  3. The first noun phrase living cells in culture is the subject of the sentence while the second noun phrase growth stimulating factors present in the culture medium is the object of the preposition by.
  4. The first noun phrase a cultural … Zurich is an appositive defining the preceding noun Dadaism. The noun phrase the prevailing art standards is the object of verb rejected. Anti-art cultural words is the object of preposition.
  5. The first noun phrase (along with relative clause, of course) is the appositive defining the noun artesian wells. The second one is the complement in the relative clause.

  1. Noun Equivalents
    Some words are not basically nouns, but they function as nouns in the sentences. We will call them nouns equivalents, whose presence creates a lot of complexity in G-matic sentences.
     
    They are three noun equivalents: ing forms of verbs, to + first forms of verb, and clauses.
     
    To understand these concepts, study the following examples and the explanations following.
  • Exercise is good for health. (The subject of the sentence is a noun.)
  • Walking is good for health. (-ing form of the verb, a noun equivalent popularly called gerund, is functioning as the subject.)
  • To walk is good for health. (to infinitive, another noun equivalent, is functioning of the subject.)
  • What you do is good for health. (A clause – grammatically called a noun clause – is functioning as the subject)

Noun clauses usually start with thatwhether/if, or, in specific constructions, question words, such as when, what where etc.


A noun clause may be used in apposition to another noun as in the following cases. The clause generally defines the noun present before it. This is a special use of noun clause.


Study the following examples in which the noun clauses are used this way.

  • The theory that all objects with mass have gravitational force is universally accepted.

Look at some more sentences in which noun clauses are used in the place a noun in different uses. 

  • We do not know whether the management will accept our proposal. (The noun clause starting with whether is the object of the verb.)
  • We know that the situation is not favorable. (The noun clause starting with that is the object of the verb.)
  • We cannot guess when the management will decide. (The noun clause with when is the object of the verb.)
  • The fact is that the situation is not favorable. (The noun clause with that is the complement of the sentence.)
  • That the situation is uncertain is known to all. (The noun clause with that is the subject of the sentence.)

Though –ing form and to infinitive are noun equivalents, there are certain differences in their uses. These uses are sometimes tested in G-matic language.

  1. Some verbs are always followed by to + first form. Using –ing forms with them is incorrect idiom.

Verbs followed by infinitives only
afford, agree, aim, appear, ask, attempt, choose, decide, demand, expect, fail, help,
hesitate, hope, manage, offer, plan, prepare, pretend, promise, refuse, seem, swear, turn, undertake
and wish.

* The company managed attracting some customers, reducing the losses.

* The company managed to attract some customers, reducing the losses.

The verb help can be correctly followed by just first form or to + first fom.

* This book helps the students to perform better in the test.

*Some examples help understand the concept well.

  1. Some verbs can be followed by gerund only.

Using to infinitive with these verbs is incorrect.

Verbs followed by gerunds only.

Admit, avoid, allow, advise, confess, consider, delay, deny, detest, dislike, enjoy, finish, imagine, mention, mind, miss, permit, postpone, quit, recommend, risk, and suggest.

 

* The accused confessed to have taken the documents without permission.

* The accused confessed having taken the documents without permission

However, if the verbs advise, recommend, allow or permit has another object, it takes to infinitive.

Study the following examples.

* We recommend starting early so that you will reach the destination on time.

* We recommend you to start early so that you will reach the destination on time.

  1. Some verbs can be followed by either without much difference in meaning.

We can use either gerund or to infinitive after such verbs.

Verbs followed by either.

Begin, cease, continue, hate, intend, love, prefer, propose and start.

* I hate playing the game with the same person again and again.

* I hate to play the game with the same person again and again.

  1. Some verbs can be followed by either, but with a change in meaning.

Verbs followed by either with a difference in meaning.

Remember, forget, stop, require, go on

Study the following examples to understand the differences.

* I forgot posting the letter. (= I forgot that I posted the letter.)

* I forgot to post the letter. (= the letter is with me now.)

* I stopped to smoke. (=I was doing something, but stopped that work to smoke.)

* I stopped smoking. (= I am not a smoker now.)
 

Noun-equivalents
Study the following sentences and identify the noun equivalents and also the purpose they serve in the sentences.

  1. To use hadrons for the treatment of cancerous tumors is beneficial to the patients as the damage to healthy tissue is minimized.
  2. Dating archaeological remains using carbon dating is the most accurate method of dating available to scientists.
  3. The reason for the controversy is that both parties involved were able to present sound arguments.
  4. Despite the claims to the contrary, archaeological evidence suggests that the ancient city of Myra in Lycia and the mythical city of Mira of Arzwa were in fact two different cities.
  5. Decline and Fall, a novel by Evelyn Waugh, was based, in part on what he felt as an undergraduate student and in part, on what he observed as a teacher.

 Keys

  1. To use hadrons for the treatment of cancerous tumors: to infinitive is used as the subject of the sentence.
  2. Dating archaeological remains using carbon dating: the gerund phrase acts as the subject of sentence.
  3. That both parties involved were able to present sound arguments: the that clause is the complement of the sentence.
  4. That the ancient city of Myra in Lycia and the mythical city of Mira were in fact two different cities: this clause is the object of the verb suggests.
  5. What he felt as an undergraduate student – clause acting as the object of preposition on.
     
    What he observed as a teacher – clause acting as the object of preposition on.

  1. Nouns—G-matic Implications
    Now that we have learnt the basics of noun phrases in detail, it is high time we started using this infomation for G-matic purposes.
    1. G-matic error—illogical shift of number of nouns
      In shorter sentences, we are not likely to shift the number of nouns illogically. But when the sentence is quite a long one, the initial noun may be so distanced from the related noun by intervening long phrases that we lose track of this number concept and shift the number of the noun illogically.

* Medicine is difficult professions.

The error of the above kind is very unlikely in your speech or writing. But look at the following sentence, in which the nouns are separated from the related nouns by other elements of the sentence. Pay attention to the underlined parts.

* A commercial film, especially a romantic one, is designed to arouse, in a viewer, a feeling of self-identification with a major character of the movies in such a way that the viewers derive vicarious satisfaction, feelings that are surely necessary for the commercial success of the movies.

One noun commercial film is related to the noun movies. This relation can be understood by the use of definite article the. This shift of singular to plural is illogical because a plural noun cannot refer to singular noun present earlier. The same kind of illogical shift is found in case of two other nouns: the viewer and the viewers, as well as a feeling and feelings.

The corrected sentence should have singular or plural nouns consistently.

* A commercial film, especially a romantic one, is designed to arouse, in a viewer, a feeling of self-identification with a major character of the movie in such a way  that the  viewer derives  vicarious satisfaction, a feeling that is surely necessary for the commercial success of the movie.
 

Example
Assuming that Neanderthals were incapable of creating modern tools, scientists till recently believed that any discovery of modern tools in the Neanderthal sites was thought to be a byproduct of Neanderthal-human interactions.
A. discovery of modern tools in the Neanderthal sites was thought to be a byproduct
B. discovery of modern tools which were found in Neanderthal sites was thought to be a byproduct of
C. modern tools discovered in the Neanderthal sites were thought to be a byproduct
D. modern tool discovered in the Neanderthal sites were thought to be byproducts
E. modern tools discovered in the Neanderthal sites were thought to be byproducts
Solution
The subject of the noun sentence is any discovery. The sentence means the discovery… was thought to be a byproduct of Neanderthal-human interactions. This sense is not logical. Thus, the given sentence is with the problem of illogical predication. The logical sense should be that modern tools … are byproducts.
Option A: this option is with the problem of illogical predication.
Option B: besides the illogical predication problem, the problem of wordiness is introduced by adding which were found. Furthermore, the use of discovery and found together causes redundancy.
Option C: though this problem corrects predication problem by using relevant subject, the number shift from plural to singular (tools to a byproduct) is illogical.
Option D: this time, the illogical shift is from singular to plural (tool to byproducts).
Option E: Correct. This option corrects both the illogical predication and number shift problems.
  1. Optional v/s obligatory use of that in noun clauses.
    We have noted that some noun clauses start with the conjunction that. The conjunction is many times correctly omitted in informal expressions and sometimes, even in formal expressions. This is the optional use of that. However, in some cases, the conjunction is obligatory, i.e., we cannot omit the conjunction.
     
    Study the following examples to understand this concept of optional v/s obligatory that.

* I think (that) he is manageable.

* We did not know (that) she had been promoted.

In the above examples, the sentences are correct both with and without the conjunction that.

* The committee proposed that the pay scales of the employees be revised.

In the above sentence, if we omit the conjunction, the sentence is incorrect.

Let’s explore the reason. If you have keenly observed, you might have noted that the last example has a noun that can function either as the object of the verb proposed or as the subject of the verb following be revised. When such possibility exists in the sentence, the reader is more likely to perceive it as the object, while, in fact, it is the subject of the following clause. In such situations, the use of that is obligatory. Simply put, the rule is this.

 

If the subject of subordinate noun clause is likely to be understood as the object of the preceding verb, then the use of that is obligatory. If such likelihood does not exist, the use of that is optional.

Example
Scientific evidence indicates fossil fuels that are formed in an abiotic process between the mantle and the crust of the earth.
A. fossil fuels that are formed in an abiotic process between the mantle and the crust of the earth
B. that an abiotic process occurring between the mantle and the crust of the earth and forming fossil fuels.
C. an abiotic process that occurs between the mantle and the crust of the earth and that forms fossil fuels.
D. that fossil fuels are formed in an abiotic process occurring between the mantle and the crust of the earth.
E. that fossil fuels are formed, between the mantle and the crust of the earth, in an abiotic process that occurs.
Solution
Explanation:
The sentence requires fossil fuels as the subject of are formed rather than as the object of the verb indicates. 
Thus, the conjunction that is obligatory. The given sentence is wrong as it is.
 
Option A: the given sentence is incorrect because of the absence of required conjunction that.
 
Option B: though the conjunction that is used in this choice, use of incomplete verb in occurring makes it a fragment.
Option C: the required conjunction is missing. Besides this, the use of two relative clauses makes the sentence wordy and the logical sense is not given.
Option D: Correct. This option corrects the conjunction problem, and expresses the idea clearly and concisely.
Option E: the use of construction …abiotic process that occurs changes the meaning illogically.
  1. Parallelism in the use of nouns
    When two or more noun phrases perform the same function in the sentence, all of them must be parallel to each other. You must take care of this especially you are working with noun equivalents.
     
    Study the following examples.

* Code of Hammurabi, a collection of laws and edicts of Babylonian king and, which is one of the earliest legal codes, was sanctified by the belief in the divine origin of written law.

 

The underlined part is a relative clause which is connected to a noun phrase a collection … kings. The noun phrase is an appositive and thus, the underlined part too should be an appositive. Hence the correction should be this.

* Code of Hammurabi, a collection of laws and edicts of Babylonian and one of the earliest legal codes, was sanctified by the belief in the divine origin of the written law.

* Familiarity of other dance styles helps a choreographer of a particular dance style; a ballet choreographer is greatly assisted by his knowledge of folk dance, historical dance, and elements of modern dance.

The first part of the sentence is talking about other dance styles. The clause after semicolon goes on explaining this with an example. In the list, two dances are mentioned (folk dance and historical dance) and the list continues with elements of modern dance, which is not a name of a dance. Thus, there is a problem. The correction is as follows.

* Familiarity of other dance styles helps a choreographer of a particular dance style; a ballet choreographer is greatly assisted by his knowledge of folk dance, historical dance, and modern dance.
 

Example
On the top of the priorities’ list of the company were the minimizing of input costs and expanding its clientele base.
A. expanding its clientele base
B. the expansion of their clientele base
C. its clientele base to expand
D. its expanding clientele base
E. the expanding of its clientele base
Solution
Explanation:
In this sentence, which is with fronting, the place phrase on the … company comes first. The real subject is at the end of the sentence. The two nouns combined by and form a compound subject and these two nouns should be parallel. In the given sentence, the + ing + object of ing is not parallel to ing + object of ing. Thus, the given sentence is incorrect.
Option A: the two nouns used in the compound subject are not parallel to each other.
Option B: though the combination of the nouns (minimizing and expansion) is acceptable, their does not agree with the singular company.
Option C: the clientele base (to expand) is not the logical subject of the predicate, which comes before the verb were. It is the expansion that is the on the top of the list, not the clientele base. This is a problem of logical predication.
Option D: This option too has the same problem as the earlier option has.
Option E: correct. This option correctly uses the + ing + object of ing, which is parallel to the noun before the conjunction and.
  1. Forced appositive
    We know that appositive generally gives additional infomation. However, sometimes, we are forced to use an appositive to make a modifier phrase correctly placed. This is, we are going to call, a forced appositive.

Let’s look at a tricky instance of sentence correction.

? Art students who are qualified in at least one fine art subject, such as students of dance, are eligible to apply for this position in the students’ committee.

In the above example, the relative clause who are… subject is correctly present after the logical antecedent art students. However, the position of such as phrase is problematic. This phrase too should logically modify the same noun art students and thus, is misplaced in the present position because the such as phrase cannot logically modify the preceding noun art subject.

So, in the above sentence, we cannot correctly place one modifier phrase without misplacing the other as both modify the same noun. However, this error will be corrected by introducing an appositive. Study the following correction.

* Art students who are qualified in at least one fine art subject, students such as those of dance, are eligible to apply for this position in the students’ committee.

* She carelessly spent the money, which left her in troubles.

In the above example, the position of relative clause is incorrect as the noun money is not logically modified by the relative clause. It is not the money that left her in troubles. But, the noun that is to be logically modified by the relative clause is not present in the sentence. We can correct this sentence by forcing an appositive in the sentence. Look at the following correction and see how it corrects the error.

* She carelessly spent the money, an act/a spending that left her in troubles.
 

Example
Predictions of employment patterns suggest a growth in self-employment and irregular freelance work in developed countries, with employees selling their skills to the interested companies, which foreshadow an increasingly unstable pattern of employment.
A. which foreshadow
B. and this foreshadows
C. a situation which foreshadows
D. a situation with a foreshadow of
E. this foreshadows
Solution
Explanation:
The sentence is with a relative clause after the noun companies, which is not logical antecedent, because the companies do not foreshadow the unstable pattern. It is the logical to assume that the situation resulted from the growth of self-employment and irregular freelance work is likely to foreshadow the unstable pattern of employment.
Option A: the relative clause is not logically related to the preceding noun companies, resulting in illogical predication.
Option B: though the conjunction and is acceptable, the pronoun this cannot refer to the whole situation described in the earlier part of the sentence.
Option C: correct. This option corrects the misplacement of the relative clause by introducing the appositive.
Option D: though this option introduces the appositive correctly, the prepositional phrase with a foreshadow of… implies that the situation is with a foreshadow, a sense which is illogical.
Option E: this sentence results in a run-on sentence because there is no conjunction between two independent clauses.




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