Monday, 17 August 2009

Four Properties of Nouns

Nouns have four properties: case, gender, number, and

In English, only nouns and pronouns have case. Case
denotes the relationship between a noun (or pronoun) and
other words in a sentence. The three cases are
nominative, objective, and possessive. Except in the
possessive, nouns do not change form to indicate case
{the doctor is in} (nominative), {see the doctor}
(objective), {the doctor’s office} (possessive).

Gender classifies nouns into masculine, feminine, and
neuter. In English, the masculine and feminine genders
occur almost exclusively with (1) nouns that refer
specifically to male or female humans or animals {king}
{queen} {ram} {ewe}; (2) compound nouns that
contain specifically masculine or feminine nouns or
pronouns {boyfriend} {horsewoman}; (3) nouns that
have a feminine suffix such as ess or ix (many of which
are archaic) {actress} {executrix}; and (4) nouns used
in personification. Almost all other words are
neuter {monarch} {sheep}. If gender is to be indicated,
descriptive adjectives such as male and female may be
needed if there is no gender-specific term: for example, a
female fox is a vixen, but there is no equivalent term for a
female goldfish.

Number shows whether one object or more than one
object is referred to, as with clock (singular) and clocks

Person shows whether an object is speaking (first person)
{we the voters will decide} (voters is first person),
spoken to (second person) {children, stop misbehaving}
(children is second person), or spoken about (third
person) {a limo carried the band} (limo and band are
third person).