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WHAT ARE NOUNS, PRONOUNS, AND PERSONAL PRONOUNS

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Nouns

Nouns

Nouns can be either proper or common. Proper nouns are those that refer to a particular person, place, thing, or idea. Such nouns are capitalized: America, George Washington, Mr. Neruda, October.

Nouns that do not refer to a particular person, place, thing, or idea are common nouns. They are not capitalized: land, girls, money, test. Compare the following list of proper and common nouns:

Proper Nouns Common Nouns
Mexico country
Ms. Finch women
Eglish language
McGraw-Hill publisher
American Airline company
December month

Nouns can be used as the subject of a sentence. The subject is the word that is performing the action in the sentence. The subject can be a proper noun or a common noun, and it can be singular or plural:

Juanita is a friend of mine.
The boys like to play soccer.
Where is the school?

Nouns can also be used as direct objects. The direct object in a sentence is the noun that receives the action of the verb. To find the direct object in a sentence do three things:

  1. Find the subject of the sentence.
  2. Find the verb in the sentence.
  3. Ask whom or what with the subject and the verb.

“Sara likes my brother.”

1.  subject  Sara  2.  verb likes  3. ask whom  Whom does Sara like? The direct object is my brother

“The girls find a book.”

  1. subject girls  2. verb find  3. ask what   What do the girls find?  The direct object is a book.

Nouns are sometimes indirect objects. They stand before the direct object in the sentence. It is the person to whom or for whom something is provided. To find the indirect object in a sentence do three things:

  1. Find the subject of the sentence.
  2. Find the verb in the sentence.
  3. Ask to whom or for whom with the subject and the verb.

Look at these sample sentences:

“Justin buys the girl a magazine.”

  1. subject Justin
  2. verb buys
  3. ask to whom or for whom or for whom does Justin buy a magazine?

The indirect object is a girl.

“Mother gives Nate five dollars.”

  1. subject Mother
  2. verb gives.
  3. ask to whom or for whom    To whom does Mother give five dollars

The indirect object is Nate.

Note: It is rare that something inanimate is used as an indirect object.

When a noun is used as a predicate noun, it follows the predicate in the sentence. The predicate can be a single verb or a verb phrase:

Verb as the predicate: Maria helps us.

Verb phrase as the predicate: Maria usually helps with the gardening.

Predicate nouns most often follow the verbs to be and to become :

  • My mother wants to be a doctor.
  • Celine became an actress.
  • Are you the manager of this building?

Pronouns

Pronouns are words that take the place of nouns. The English personal pronouns are:

Singular Plural
First Person I We
Second Person You You
Third Person He, She, It They

Notice that you is both singular and plural. When speaking to one person, say you. When speaking to two or more persons, say you:

  • Tim, you are a very good student.
  • Bruno and Rene, you have to study more.

Just as nouns have gender, pronouns also do. I, we, and you can be used by males or females. He is always masculine, she is always feminine, and it is always neuter. The plural of the third-person pronouns is always they, whether masculine, feminine, or neuter. And just like nouns, pronouns can be used as:

  1. the subject of a sentence
  2. a direct object
  3. an indirect object

But when used as a direct object or indirect object, some of the pronouns change:

Subject Direct Object Indirect Object
I me me
you you you
he him him
she her her
it it it
we us us
you (plural) you you
they them them

If a pronoun replaces a noun in the sentence, it must have the same characteristics as the noun: the same number (singular or plural), the same gender (masculine, feminine, or neuter), and the same user in the sentence (subject, direct object, or indirect object). Look at these examples where the pronoun replaces the italicized noun:

Joseph is a hard worker. (singular masculine noun/subject) He is a hard worker. (singular masculine pronoun/subject)
Do you know the girls? (plural noun/direct object) Do you know them? (plural pronoun/direct object)
We gave Mrs. Jones some flowers. (singular feminine noun/indirect object) We gave her some flowers. (singular feminine pronoun/indirect object)

Notice that the nouns and pronouns are in the third person. This is true when a pronoun replaces a noun. But when a noun or pronoun is combined with the first-person singular pronoun I, it is replaced by the first-person plural pronoun we :

  • You and I have work to do. ➞ We have work to do.
  • He helps the girls and me. ➞ He helps us.

When you change a direct object noun to a direct object pronoun, you must add to or for before the indirect object noun or pronoun. The indirect object becomes the object of the preposition to or for. Place the prepositional phrase after the direct object. For example:

  • I gave Jay a book. ➞ I gave it to Jay.
  • We buy her flowers. ➞ We buy them for her.

Nouns or pronouns can be used to complete a prepositional phrase. That is a phrase made up of a  preposition and a noun or a pronoun. Here are some of the most commonly used prepositions:

after, behind, between, for, from, in, near, on, of, though, to, with, without

Look at these sample prepositional phrases:

after the concert behind me
between the girls for you
from a friend in him
near the city on it
of a book through her
to a student with us
without the money without them

In a prepositional phrase, use the same form of the pronoun that is used as a direct or indirect object:

Subject Pronoun Direct or Indirect Object Prepositional Phrase
I me after me
you you behind you
he him for him
she her from her
it it in it
we us between us
they them near them

Verbs, Transitive Verbs, and Intransitive Verbs

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