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Noun: Countable And Uncountable, Gender And Cases

A noun is a word that can be used to refer to a person, place, thing, quality or action. It can be a subject or an object of a verb. They can be modified by an adjective and can take an article or determiner. Nouns can be categorized as countable or uncountable. Here are some nouns which are normally uncountable, though in many other languages they may be countable:
  • Apart from going to work, there’s lots of housework to do for Kiran.
  • She wore her jewellery and get ready for the party.

Some common errors in use of nouns:

(i) Nouns which take a plural verb:
  • Her all belongings were scattered in all over the place.
  • She sent him her sincere congratulations on his marriage.
  • She saves half of all her earnings every month.
  • He lives on the outskirts of Mumbai. ( = outlying areas of a city or town)
(ii) Other nouns like these include:
clothes, goods, particulars, premises (= building), riches, savings, stairs, surroundings, thanks.
(iii) The nouns police, people, cattle, staff, artillery always have a plural verb. The noun whereabouts can be used either a singular or plural verb.
(iv) Some nouns always end in –s looking as if they are plural but when we use them as the subject, they take a singular verb.
  • The news of Princess Diana was greatly exaggerated.
(v) Other words which confuse include:
  • She doesn’t have a means of control over the company she inherited.
  • Politics is not his cup of tea. He is better off in acting.
  • Statistics was always her worst subject.
Some more words: economics, linguistics, mathematics, phonetics, physics, gymnastics, athletics, diabetes, measles, rabies etc. are singular but seem to be plural.
(vi) Nouns used as singular and plural but with different meanings
  • Fish (collectively): There are not many fish in this pond.
  • Fishes (separate fishes): Barry cooked all the four fishes for dinner.
  • Cloths (kinds or pieces of cloth, not made up into garments) – she cut all cloths into pieces.
  • Clothes (garments): I sent all the clothes to laundry.

Pronouns – common errors in their use

A pronoun is a word that takes the place of a noun. Pronouns are used to avoid repetitive use of the same noun within a sentence or narrative. The following is an example without the use of pronouns:
  • We invited Kapoors to our party because we like Kapoors.
    The sentence would sound better if a pronoun were introduced
  • We invited Kapoors to our party because we like them.
Important Tips to Remember
  1. Singular pronouns with singular antecedents and plural pronouns with plural antecedents.
    • The man finished their work quickly... (incorrect)
    • The man finished his work quickly... (correct)
    • The men finished their work quickly. (correct)
    • The men finished his work quickly. (incorrect)
  2. Collective Noun Antecedents
    Students often use a collective noun antecedent when the group members are considered a unit. Here are the examples:
    • The construction crew started their project last year. (incorrect)
    • The construction crew, started its project last year. (correct)
      However, when the group members are taken individually, the plural pronoun is used.
    • The construction crew, some of them not happy with working conditions, gathered its tools. (incorrect)
    • The construction crew, some of them not happy with working conditions gathered their tools. (correct)
  3. Gender Errors in Pronouns
    He and his were traditionally used to refer to both sexes when the antecedent was unknown. Now, in modern times, it is fell that this usage is unfair to women, so one male pronoun is avoided.
    • Each person has to face his fear of wild animals in the jungle. (Singular)
    • All persons have to face their fear of wild animals in the jungle. (plural)
    • Each person has to face his or her fear of wild animals in the jungle (he or she)
  4. When two nouns are joined with ‘as well as’ then pronoun is used in agreement with the first subject.
    • Peter as well as his friends is going on picnic.
    • The students as well as their teacher were present in the function.
  5. When two nouns are joined with ‘with’ then the pronoun is used in agreement with the noun before ‘with’.
    • The boy with his classmates
    • The boys with their teacher 
      You can notice that in both sentences the usage of ‘his’ and ‘their’ is in agreement with number and gender of the second noun.
  6. When a subject is made up of two or more items joined by ‘either .........or’ or ‘neither.... nor’, a singular verb is used if the last item is singular and a plural verb if it is plural. However, in informal English, sometimes a plural verb is used.
    • Either your brother or you have eaten your lunch.
    • Either the teachers or the principal is (or are) is blame for the poor results.
    • Neither the prime minister nor his spokespersons are to address the press.

Prepositions - Important Inferences and Common Errors in ‘their’ usages.

A preposition is a word which usually precedes a noun or pronoun and shows its relation to some other word in the sentence.
  • The man on the platform was staring at Gina.
  • They came after dinner.
  • The cat is sitting under the table.
In the first example ‘on’ and ‘at’ are two prepositions, which are before the definite nouns ‘platform’ and ‘Gina’. They help establish the relationship between ‘the man’ and ‘the platform’ and ‘stare’ and ‘Gina’.
A preposition may also be used at the end of a sentence:
  • Who were you talking to?
  • This is the house I used to live in.
Preposition can also govern other parts of speech that are used as nouns.
  • She left India for good.
  • In short, we don’t want to do anything with them.
  • From here you can go to Istambul by air.

Position of Prepositions

Prepositions of place
At is used about a place we think of as a point rather than an area. We also use at about are event wherethere is a group of people.
  • I arrived at Howrah station at 5.
On is used when we talk about a position touching a flat surface, or on something we consider as a line such as a road or river.
  • There’s a cockroach on the floor.
In is used when we talk about a position within a larger area, or when it is within a larger space.
He works at Connaught place in Delhi.

Prepositions of Direction

To, towards, across, for, against, along, up, down, into etc. are called prepositions of direction.
To is used to denote destination
  • I am going to railway station.
Towards indicates direction.
  • He was last seen going towards the hotel.
For denotes destination.
  • He is leaving for Canada tomorrow.
Against refers to ‘opposite’, ‘pressing on’, ‘in contravention of’.
  • It was very difficult to run against such strong winds.
Across denotes ‘on the opposite side of’, ‘from one side to another’, ‘both sides’, ‘through’
  • The man who came to see you yesterday lives across the road.
Come across’ is used when we mean ‘to find’ or ‘encounter’
  • She came across this man when she was working in US and then they got married.
Up denotes top and down is used to mean ‘descending’.
  • The child climbed up the stairs by himself.

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