Nouns – these are crazy things


A noun is the name of a person, place or thing; that is to say, it is fundamentally the name of whatever we can think about. It is also, in old-fuddy times, known as a substantive. The word originates from the Latin for ‘name’: ‘nomen’.

There are lots of different types of nouns, which you will find explained in detail below:

For names of persons or places:

a)      Most nouns are common nouns. This does not mean that they sound like they should be on an episode of Jeremy Kyle, but in fact, indicate a class of persons, places or things. These only require a capital letter when stated at the beginning of a sentence. Examples of common nouns are, for instance, the words ‘man’, ‘school’ and ‘glockenspiel’ (one of my favourite words).

b)      However, some nouns indicating persons and things are proper nouns. A proper noun refers to an individual person or place, and almost always starts with a capital letter; for instance, ‘Herbert’ and ‘Nantucket’.

c)       Furthermore, when a noun is the name of a thing, that thing could be:

  1. A concrete noun. A concrete noun is something which exists in a material form and which we can therefore see, hear, touch, taste and smell.
  2. An abstract noun: an abstract noun is something we cannot perceive with our senses, because it is separate from matter. Examples of abstract nouns include justice, beauty, happiness, history, childhood and I guess, Mr Morris’ hair.

d)      Finally, one other important category of nouns is the category of collective nouns. Examples include ‘flock’, ‘jury’ and ‘committee’. According to their sense in particular cases, the same collective noun can:

  1. Sometimes be plural, as in the sentence ‘The committee were in disagreement among themselves’; and
  2. Sometimes be singular, as in ‘The committee was full of intelligent teachers deciding which pub to go to after work’.


  1. Read the following poem by William Wordsworth and identify all the different nouns.
  2. Next, zoom in and analyse the different effects on the reader
  3. In the comments section below, answer the following question: how does Wordsworth achieve the seemingly effortless effect of implying the unity of his consciousness with nature?

I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud

By  William Wordsworth

I WANDERED lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vales and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host, of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.


Continuous as the stars that shine

And twinkle on the milky way,

They stretched in never-ending line

Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,

Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.


The waves beside them danced; but they

Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:

A poet could not but be gay,

In such a jocund company:

I gazed–and gazed–but little thought

What wealth the show to me had brought:


For oft, when on my couch I lie

In vacant or in pensive mood,

They flash upon that inward eye

Which is the bliss of solitude;

And then my heart with pleasure fills,

And dances with the daffodils.

3 thoughts on “Nouns – these are crazy things

  1. Wordsworth uses all concrete nouns linking to give an effortless impact on the reader. Wordsworth uses personification to give the nature a humanised affect. By doing this he is implying the beauty of nature.

  2. Above the dark, dull mist there was a ghostly figure,
    A person who was walking in front of the dull mist and the weepy trees was walking a vicious deadly dog,
    Between the trees was a small, caved in, thin path in which stood a small boy with his dog,
    Inside the gaps of the trees stood a wild animal ready to pounce,
    Beyond the mist was a world no one would want to see.

  3. Pingback: Improving Your Writing – With a Little Help from George Orwell | The English Department's Blog

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