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Lecture 3 Noun and Noun Phrase. Objectives: 1. Classification of nouns. 2. Number forms of nouns 3. Plural forms of the compound nouns 4. Number forms of the material nouns 5. Number forms of the abstract nouns. Lecture 3 Noun and Noun Phrase. 1. Classification of nouns.

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lecture 3 noun and noun phrase
Lecture 3 Noun and Noun Phrase
  • Objectives:
  • 1. Classification of nouns.
  • 2. Number forms of nouns
  • 3. Plural forms of the compound nouns
  • 4. Number forms of the material nouns
  • 5. Number forms of the abstract nouns
Lecture 3 Noun and Noun Phrase

1. Classification of nouns.

Nouns can be classified according to word formation, lexical meaning and grammatical form.

1) Simple, compound and derivative nouns

2) Proper and common nouns

3) Countable and uncountable nouns

1)Simple, compound and derivative nouns

A simple noun is a noun that contains only one free morpheme (eg; chair, land, faith).

A compound noun is a noun that is composed of two or more morphemes (eg: armchair, farmland).

A derivative noun is a noun that comes from a verb, an adjective or a simple noun with affix (eg: arrangement, greatness, patriotism).

2)Proper and common nouns

A proper noun is a name used for a particular person, place or thing, and spelt with a capital initial letter (eg: Anderson, Britain).

A common noun is a name common to a class of people, things or abstract ideas. Common nouns can be further classified into individual, collective, material, and abstract nouns ( eg: a boy, air, glory).

3)Countable and uncountable nouns

A countable noun is a noun that has a plural form and which can collocate with numbers and with such determiners as a (an), many, few, these, those, several, etc

An uncountable noun is a noun that cannot go with the above-mentioned words

Individual nouns

Collective nouns

Material nouns

Abstract nouns





Proper nouns

Uncountable nouns

2. Number forms of nouns

Number is a grammatical distinction which determines whether a noun or determiner is singular or plural.

1) Regular and irregular plural

Individual nouns are all countable and therefore have singular and plural forms. The singular form of an individual noun, which shares the same form as the base of the word, can take such determiners as a(an) and one( eg: a / one desk).

The plural form of an individual noun can be regular or irregular.

1 regular plural
(1) Regular plural

The regular plural is formed by adding –s or –es to the base

eg: days, churches, countries, loaves, wives, etc

2 irregular plural
(2) Irregular plural

a. The irregular plural form is formed by other means such as by changing the internal vowel or by changing the ending of the noun.

eg: tooth-teeth, foot-feet,

goose- geese, man-men ,

woman-women, mouse-mice,

louse-lice, child-children,


All his _____ are swans.

A) geese B) goose C) gooses D) geeses


2 irregular plural1
(2) Irregular plural

b. Irregular plurals also include some words of foreign origin, borrowed from Greek, Latin or Foreign plurals, their formation are different

analysis(分析)---- analyses [ə'næləsi:z]

basis(基础)----bases ['beisi:z]

crisis(危机)----crises ['kraisi:z]

thesis(论文)--- theses ['θi:si:z]

hypothesis(假设)---hypotheses [hai'pɔθisi:z]

2 irregular plurals
(2) Irregular plurals
  • parenthesis(圆括号)---parentheses

stratum['streitəm] (阶层)--- strata ['streitə]

datum['deitəm] (资料)---data

medium (媒介)—media

bacterium(细菌)--bacteria [bæk'tiəriə]

2 the irregular plural form
(2) The irregular plural form

phenomenon(现象)---phenomena [fi'nɔminə]

criterion(标准)—criteria [krai'tiəriə]

stimulus(刺激)—stimuli ['stimjulai]

nuclus(核)—nuclei ['nju:kliai]

radius(半径)-- radii ['reidiai]

vita(履历)—vitae ['vi:tai]

index(索引)—indices ['indisi:z]

formula(公式)-formulae ['fɔ:mjuli:]

2 the irregular plural form1
(2) The irregular plural form

-is— -es -um-- -a -on--- -a -us—ae -a--- -ae


This natural phenomena which we just


discovered is most interesting.


答案为B。phenomena 应改为phenomenon

2) For some nouns, their singular and plural number share the same form

a. one kind is formed in singular ending

aircraft(飞机), horsepower(马力), hovercraft(气垫船),Japanese,

Chinese, Swiss ,

peacock(孔雀), fish,

buffalo(水牛), sheep,

deer, swine(猪),

giraffe(长颈鹿), shark(鲨鱼),

yuan(元), jin(斤) etc.

b. The other kind is formed in plural ending

species(种) means(方法) series(系列)headquarters (司令部) works(工厂) crossroads(十字路口) barracks(兵营)

When they are used as subject, the verb form should match its subject in number. eg :

--The TV series was proved to be much better than I had expected.

3) Other nouns ending in –s

(1) Names for things made of two parts are usu. used as plural. But when they are preceded by such unit nouns as a pair of and two pairs of, the number form of the following verb is generally determined by the number marker of the unit noun.

glasses scissors compasses tongs crossroads pliers spectacles trousers pants scales shears tweezers stockings socks shorts gloves jeans

3 other nouns ending in s
3) Other nouns ending in –s
  • (1) Names for things made of two parts

Joe’s new trousers are black and white.

Two pairs of pliers(钳子)are missing from my tool box.

(2) Nouns usu. taking plural endings are generally used as plural

archives档案 clothes 衣服 contents 内容goods货物, effects 财物, papers, greens青菜, looks外貌, manners礼貌, customs进口税, arms武器, riches财富.

--The contents of this book are most fascinating.

--Half his goods are from China

(3) Nouns ending in –ings such as clippings, diggings, etc are generally used as plural

The sweepings of the room have been disposed of.

There are also nouns such as barracks and headquarters, means, series, species, works whose singular and plural number share the same form .

These nouns are treated as plural when used in the plural sense, or vice versa.

A barracks was stormed by the enemy troops.

Two barracks in the suburbs have been surrounded.

A headquarters was set up to direct the operation

Their headquarters are in Paris

3.Plural forms of the compound nouns

A compound noun is made up of two or more than two words, there are some rules to be followed in its formation. Change the head noun of the compound word into plural.

The head noun is the first word
  • commander-in-chief ----- commanders-in-chief(总司令)
  • father-in-law ----- fathers-in-law(岳父)
  • looker-on ----- lookers-on(旁观者)
  • man-of –war ----men-of-war(战舰)
  • runner-up ----runners-up(亚军)
  • grant-in-aid ---grants-in-aid(助学金)
  • stander-by ---- standers-by(旁观者)
  • bride-to-be ---- brides-to-be(未来的新娘)
2)The head noun is the second word

bystander --- bystanders(旁观者)

footman --- footmen (男仆)

horseman--- horsemen(骑兵)

on-looker --- on-lookers(旁观者)

shoe-maker--- shoe-makers(鞋匠)

ox-cart--- ox-carts(牛车)

step-mother--- step-mothers(继母)

3) If there isn’t a countable noun in the compound, add-s at the end of the last word

forget-me-not --- forget-me-nots(勿忘我)

go-between ---- go-betweens(中间人)

stand-by ----- stand-bys(靠山)

take-off ---- take-offs(起飞)

stand-in ---- stand-ins(临时演员)

grown-up ---- grown-ups(成年人)

sit-in ----sit-ins(临时保姆)

4) When there are two head nouns in a compound word, change the two head words into plural.

man-servant ----- men-servants


woman journalist ---- women journalists

5) When a compound noun is made up of a noun and an adjective, change the noun into plural.

Attorney [ə'tə:ni] general ----- attorneys general(检查总长)

court-martial---- courts-martial(军事法庭)

cut-throat ----- cut-throats(凶手)

sweet-heart ---- sweet-hearts(爱人)

6) When the first word is boy,girl,maid, change the second word into plural.

boy friend ----- boy friends lady driver ----- lady drivers maid servant------ maid servants

7) When a compound word is ended in –ful, add-s at the end of- ful or the noun.

handful --- handfuls / handsful 一把;一小撮

houseful---- housefuls / housesful 满屋,一屋子

spoonful ---- spoonfuls 一匙

armful ---- armfuls 一抱

cupful ---- cupfuls 一杯

mouthful---- mouthfuls 一口

4.Number forms of the material nouns

Material nouns are generally uncountable and have no plural forms. When used to mean the material itself, they are uncountable, but when used in other senses, they are countable.

Material nouns:

beer cake cheese cloth coal

cotton fur glue ice ink iron

jam coffee juice meat medicine

metal milk oil paper plastic rain

snow soap soup soil steel sugar

tea wool water wine wood wool etc.

There are also material nouns that can take plural endings. These nouns , though ending in –s, remain uncountable.

Eg: sands / waters

( large expanse of sand or water)

foods/ fruits ( a variety of food or fruit)

1) Some material nouns used as countable nouns mean “a portion of” or “a cup of”(表示一份,一杯)

Two strong black coffees, please.


2) Some material nouns can be used as countable nouns , having the meaning of “a kind of”

It was a special tea which tastes of orange blossoms.

这是一种特别的茶, 有栀子花味。

3) There are also material nouns that can take plural endings but they are used in other senses .

She forbids any vessels to enter her territorial waters.


It was now the time of the spring rains.


5. Number forms of the abstract nouns


Abstract nouns are mostly uncountable. But there are a few abstract nouns

that are countable. eg:

a victory--- two victories

The most used abstract nouns:

experience failure faith fashion

fear freedom fun growth confidence

joy luck purity reality relief

power trust waste wealth weather

welfare work worth youth etc.

Abstract nouns cannot take such determiners as a (an)/ one or plural forms.
  • He is learning French for fun.
  • 他学法语是为了好玩。
  • They had justice on their side.
  • 正义在他们一边。
2) Sometimes an abstract noun can have a (an)/the or plural forms,thus making it specified, that is, the mere addition of a plural ending has the effect of changing the meaning of the base.

--He works hard for the welfare of the poor.


--The oppressive weather lasted only a few days.


--There is a beauty in simplicity.


--He had always had a warm affection for me.


--He has no sympathy for beggars. (同情)

--He is a man of wide sympathies. (同情心)

--I sent my sympathies to the relatives of the dead. ( 慰问)

--The teachers met once a year to exchange experience(经验)

--Please tell us about your experiences in Africa.(经历)

--My life in China was an unforgettable experience. (经历)

3) There are a few nouns such as family, room, mouth, ear can be used as abstract noun in set phrases

to have much family = too heavy family burden

to have much winter= a too long spell of cold weather

to have much mouth =to talk too much

to have too little ear= to be not inclined to listen to others

to have room for = to have a need for

to feel the patriot rise= to feel the patriotic feeling rise

to be fool enough =to be foolish enough

more of a fool = more foolish

less of a fool= less foolish

as much as a fool as =as foolish as

too much of a fool = too foolish

some other words are as follows: man, coward, coquette, politician, sportsman, scholar, poet etc.

--He was enough of a man to tell the truth.


--He is something of a poet.

--The girl was a little of a coquette.

6. Problems to be noted when the uncountable nouns are used


There are a few points to be noted.

(Uncountable nouns include abstract nouns and material nouns)

The most used uncountable nouns :

information knowledge experience furniture luggage baggage equipment jewellery advice sugar traffic homework

mail population damage idea clothing bread

cloth meat paper glass soap fruit

1)uncountable nouns have no plural forms

2) uncountable nouns can’t be used with such determiners as a,an,one,two,each,many,several,these,those. eg:

a piece of mail 一个邮件

those pieces of information 那些情报

3) uncountable nouns can be used with such determiners as the,some,much,a little, a lot of,a great / good deal of,a large / small amount of,a plentyof etc.


a lot of traffic 繁忙的交通

a plenty of time 充足的时间

4)Material nouns are uncountable nouns which can’t be used with a/an or other numerals ,if we want to denote a part of a whole or the quantity of an undifferentiated mass, we can use Partitives/ Unit Nouns(单位词)

(1) Partitives shown by shapes of things:

a loaf of bread 一条面包 a bar of soap 一条肥皂

a cake of soap一块肥皂 a slice of meat一片肉

a lump of sugar 一块方糖

a sheet (piece) of paper一张纸 a block of ice 一块冰 a tube of paste 一筒牙膏

a pack of cigarette一包香烟 a body of water 一汪水

a piece of chalk一支粉笔

(2) Partitives shown by unit of vessels(容器)

a glass of water

a bottle of beer

a bucket of water

a bag of flour

a bowl of rice

a basket of fruit

a basin of water

a cup of tea

(3) Partitives shown by unit of measure or quality:

a pound of butter an item of news

a pair of shoes a litre of gasoline

a suit of clothing a gallon of gasoline

a set of furniture a yard of cloth

a mass of sand a spoonful of soup