Nouns are words that name people, places, things, ideas and states of being. Certain nouns refer to things that are able to be counted for example, ten toys. Some nouns refer to uncountable things, for example, air, research, happiness, snow, hair, traffic and so on. There are different types of nouns:
- common nouns (the vast majority) are the names of classes of things and begin with a lower-case letter, for example, boy, girl, name, verb, biography, computer.
- proper nouns name specific people, places, things and acronyms and begin with a capital letter, for example, Cathy Freeman, Sydney Harbour, Olympic Games.
- abstract nouns name concepts or things that cannot be seen, for example, democracy, hate, joy, honesty, hypothesis.
- collective nouns name groups of things, for example, team, family, committee, flock, bunch.
- mass nouns name things that you cannot count, for example, gold, milk, sunshine, furniture, traffic, information.
A noun group is a group of words relating to, or building on, a noun. Noun groups usually consist of a pointer (the, a, an, this, that, these, those, my, your, his, her, its, our, mum‘s, Mr Smith’s) plus one or more adjectives or adverbs and are an important language resource for building up descriptions. These should be taught to be seen as a chunk of information rather than a list or string of individual words. In factual texts, noun groups contain the ‘content’ across key learning areas. In literary texts they develop creative expression, important for building the story world, characterisation and imagery.
The dry, windswept, desert region has an extremely low level of rainfall. (Noun groups both before – pre-modifiers, and after the noun – post-modifier, need to be explored).
Noun groups can also have adjectival phrases or adjectival clauses embedded in them:
- the regions with low rainfalls are uninhabited. ('with low rainfalls' is an adjectival phrase).
- the regions which have higher rainfalls are inhabited. ('which have higher rainfalls' is an adjectival clause).
A pronoun stands in place of a noun, noun group or name. The purpose of pronouns is to avoid repetition and make sentences easier to understand. Pronouns generally need to have a clear reference, referring to something that has been identified or named elsewhere in the text. Pronouns generally refer back to words mentioned earlier in the text; however, sometimes a pronoun can be used and referenced to a word that is forward in the text. For example:
- Lucy may seem shy but she loves making friends (refers back).
- although it was late, the train finally arrived (refers forwards).
Pronouns help to give cohesion to a text and prevent it from becoming repetitious. An informal rule in the use of pronouns is sometimes taught as ;a pronoun is used no more than twice before the noun is again named. A second noun in the line requires the first noun to be repeated before the next use of another pronoun.' This is important in less sophisticated writing. (Showing a direct reference line controls confusion).
Different types of pronouns include:
- personal: I, we, he, she, you, it, they, me, us, her, him, them (nominative case: subject of the sentence, objective case: object of the sentence, or possessive case: see below) Personal pronouns can indicate a singular or plural noun, which person the pronoun is and the gender. This information is often stated in a simple pronoun.
- possessive: mine, ours, yours, hers, his, its, theirs
- reflexive: myself, ourselves, yourself, yourselves, herself, himself, themselves
- demonstrative: this, that, these, those
- indefinite: each, any, some, all, one, none, anybody, anything, nobody, nothing, (indefinite negative pronouns) somebody, something, everybody
- relative: who, whom, whose, which, that
- interrogative: who, which, what, whose, whom.
- reciprocal: each other, one another