English in Use/Nouns
|General||Contents • Introduction|
|Parts of speech||Articles • Nouns • Verbs • Gerunds and participles • Pronouns • Adjectives • Adverbs • Prepositions, Conjunctions and Interjections|
|Other topics||Orthography • Punctuation • Syntax • Figures of Syntax • Glossary|
- This page is written in English, and therefore needs to be translated at a later date to other languages for it to become more useful.
In the above sentence, "computer" is an adjective because it is describing "company".
A noun, or noun substantive, is a part of speech (a word or phrase) which functions as the head of a noun phrase. The word "noun" derives from the Latin nomen meaning "name", and a traditional definition of nouns is that they are only those expressions that refer to a person, place, thing, event, substance, quality, or idea. They serve as the subject or object of a verb and as the governed term of a preposition, and can co-occur with articles and attributive adjectives.
There are different groups of nouns:
- Common nouns—"chair",
- Proper nouns—"Fred",
- Abstract nouns—"love",
- Collective nouns—"gaggle",
- Compound nouns—"butterfly",
- Verbal nouns—"triumphing".
Each of these different groups of nouns has different properties, each making them different in how we use them.
Thus, nouns are names of objects, places, people and things. They are used with adjectives to describe something, and with verbs to show an action.
Concrete nouns 
Concrete nouns are proper nouns and common nouns.
Proper nouns 
Proper nouns are the names of people, places, groups or dates: as, Adam, Boston, the Hudson, the Romans, the Azores, the Alps. They almost always have a capital letter as their first letter. Example:
- "Timmy is not someone to be toyed with."No one likes to hear other people boast their talents
Common nouns 
Common nouns are the names of a sort, kind, or class, of beings or things: as, beast, bird, fish, insect, creatures, persons, children. They often refer to objects or things which we can see, touch and feel, like the word chair. Example:
- "I sat at the table."
Individual nouns 
Their refer to only one thing of the same kind, for eg: man, player, cow, chiken, minister.
Collective nouns 
Collective nouns are the names of a groups of objects or many individuals together: as, council, meeting, committee, flock. Example:
- "They are a group."
Abstract nouns 
Abstract nouns are the names of some particular qualities considered apart from its substance: as, goodness, hardness, pride, frailty. They are often names of the things that we cannot touch or see, but are there all the same. Example:
- "I think I've fallen in love!"
Verbal nouns 
Verbal nouns or participial nouns are the names of some actions, or states of being; and are formed from a verb, like a participle, but employed as a noun: as,
- "The triumphing of the wicked is short."—Job, XX, 5.
Sui generis 
A thing sui generis, (i.e., of its own peculiar kind,) is something which is distinguished, not as an individual of a species, but as a sort by itself, without plurality in either the noun or the sort of thing: as, galvanism, music, geometry.
Words and word groups used as nouns 
Adjectives made nouns 
- "The Ancient of days did sit."—Bible.
- "Of the ancients."—Swift.
- "For such impertinents."—Steele.
- "He is an ignorant in it."—Id.
- "In the luxuriance of an unbounded picturesque."—Jamieson.
- "A source of the sublime;"—Burke.
- "The vast immense of space:"—Murray.
- "There is none his like."—Job, XLI, 33.
- "A little more than a little, is by much too much."—Shakespeare.
- "And gladly make much of that entertainment."—Sidney.
- "A covetous man makes the most of what he has."—L'Estrange.
- "It has done enough for me."—Pope.
- "He had enough to do."—Bacon.
- "All withers here; who most possess, are losers by their gain, stung by full proof, that bad at best, life's idle all is vain."—Young.
- "Nor grudge I you the much the Grecians give, nor murmuring take the little I receive."—Dryden.
Pronouns made nouns 
- "A love of seeing the what and how of all about him."—Story's Life of Flaxman: Pioneer, Vol. i, p. 133.
- "The nameless he, whose nod is Nature's birth."—Young, Night iv.
- "I was wont to load my she with knacks."—Shak. Winter's Tale.
- "Or any he, the proudest of your sort."—Shak.
- "I am the happiest she in Kent."—Steele.
- "The shes of Italy."—Shak.
- "The hes in birds."—Bacon.
- "We should soon have as many hes and shes as the French."—Cobbet's E. Gram., Para. 42.
- "If, for instance, we call a nation a she, or the sun a he."—Ib., Para. 198.
- "When I see many its in a page, I always tremble for the writer."—Ib., Para. 196.
- "Let those two questionary petitioners try to do this with their whos and their whiches."—Spect: Ash's Gr., p. 131.
- "Such mortal drugs I have; but Mantua's law is death to any he that utters them."—Shak.
Verbs made nouns 
- "Avaunt all attitude, and stare, and start theatric."—Cowper.
- "A may-be of mercy is sufficient."—Bridge.
- "Which cuts are reckoned among the fractures."—Wiseman.
- "The officer erred in granting a permit."
- "Feel darts and charms, attracts and flames."—Hudibras.
- "You may know by the falling off of the come, or sprout."—Mortimer.
- "And you have talked of sallies and retires."—Shak.
- "For all that else did come, were sure to fail; yet would he further none, but for avail."—Spenser.
Participles made nouns (gerunds) 
- "For the producing of real happiness."—Crabb.
- "For the crying of the poor and the sighing of the needy, I will arise."—Bible.
- "Surely the churning of milk brings forth butter, and the wringing of the nose brings forth blood; so the forcing of wrath brings forth strife."—Prov., xxx, 33.
- "Reading, writing, and ciphering, are indispensable to civilized man."
- "Hence was invented the distinction between doing and permitting."—Calvin's Inst., p. 131.
- "Knowledge of the past comes next."—Hermes, p. 113.
- "I am my beloved's, and his desire is toward me."—Sol. Song, vii, 10.
- "Here's—a simple coming-in for one man."—Shak.
- "What are your rents? What are your comings-in? O Ceremony, show me but your worth."—Id.
Adverbs made nouns 
- "In these cases we examine the why, the what, and the how of things."—L'Estrange.
- "If a point or now were extended, each of them would contain within itself infinite other points or nows."—Hermes, p. 101.
- "The why is plain as way to parish church."—Shak.
- "It is heaven itself that points out an hereafter."—Addison.
- "The dread of a hereafter."—Fuller.
- "The murmur of the deep amen."—Sir W. Scott.
- "For their whereabouts lies in a mystery."—Book of Thoughts, p. 14. Better.
- "Bid them farewell, Cordelia, though unkind; you lose here, a better where to find."—Shak.
Conjunctions made nouns 
- "The if, which is here employed, converts the sentence into a supposition."—Blair's Rhet.
- "Your if is the only peacemaker; much virtue is in if."—Shak.
- "So his lordship decreed with a grave solemn tone, decisive and clear, without one if or but—that whenever the nose put his spectacles on, by daylight or candlelight—eyes should be shut."—Cowper.
Prepositions made nouns 
- "O, not like me; for mine's beyond beyond."—Shakspeare: Cymb., iii, 2.
- "I.e., her longing is further than beyond; beyond anything that desire can be said to be beyond."—Singer's Notes.
- "You whirled them to the back of beyont to look at the auld Roman camp."—Antiquary, i. 37.
Interjections or phrases made nouns 
- "Come away from all the lo-heres! and lo-theres!"—Sermon.
- "Will cuts him short with a 'What then?'"—Sermon.
- "With hark and whoop, and wild halloo."—Scott.
- "And made a pish at chance and sufferance."—Shak.
- "A single look more marks the internal wo, than all the windings of the lengthened oh."—Lloyd.
Countable and uncountable nouns 
Inflections of Nouns 
Nouns have modifications of genders, numbers, and cases.
Genders, in grammar, are modifications that distinguish objects in regard to sex.
There are three genders; the masculine, the feminine, and the neuter:
- The masculine gender is that which denotes persons or animals of the male kind: as, man, father, king.
- The feminine gender is that which denotes persons or animals of the female kind: as, woman, mother, queen.
- The neuter gender is that which denotes things that are neither male nor female: as, pen, ink, paper.
Hence, names of males are masculine; names of females, feminine; and names of things inanimate, literally, neuter.
- Masculine nouns make regular feminines, when their termination is changed to ess: as,
- Hunter, huntress; prince, princess; lion, lioness.
- In some instances the syllable ess is simply added: as,
- Accuser, accuseress; advocate, advocatess; archer, archeress; author, authoress; avenger, avengeress; barber, barberess; baron, baroness; canon, canoness; cit, cittess; coheir, coheiress; count, countess; deacon, deaconess; demon, demoness; diviner, divineress; doctor, doctoress; giant, giantess; god, goddess; guardian, guardianess; Hebrew, Hebrewess; heir, heiress; herd, herdess; hermit, hermitess; host, hostess; Jesuit, Jesuitess; Jew, Jewess; mayor, mayoress; Moabite, Moabitess; monarch, monarchess; pape, papess; or, pope, popess; patron, patroness; peer, peeress; poet, poetess; priest, priestess; prior, prioress; prophet, prophetess; regent, regentess; saint, saintess; shepherd, shepherdess; soldier, soldieress; tailor, tailoress; viscount, viscountess; warrior, warrioress.
- In other instances, the termination is changed, and there is no increase of syllables: as,
- Abbot, abbess; actor, actress; adulator, adulatress; adulterer, adulteress; adventurer, adventuress; advoutrer, advoutress; ambassador, ambassadress; anchorite, anchoress; or, anachoret, anachoress; arbiter, arbitress; auditor, auditress; benefactor, benefactress; caterer, cateress; chanter, chantress; cloisterer, cloisteress; commander, commandress; conductor, conductress; creator, creatress; demander, demandress; detractor, detractress; eagle, eagless; editor, editress; elector, electress; emperor, emperess, or empress; emulator, emulatress; enchanter, enchantress; exactor, exactress; fautor, fautress; fornicator, fornicatress; fosterer, fosteress, or fostress; founder, foundress; governor, governess; huckster, huckstress; or, hucksterer, hucksteress; idolater, idolatress; inhabiter, inhabitress; instructor, instructress; inventor, inventress; launderer, launderess, or laundress; minister, ministress; monitor, monitress; murderer, murderess; negro, negress; offender, offendress; ogre, ogress; porter, portress; progenitor, progenitress; protector, protectress; proprietor, proprietress; pythonist, pythoness; seamster, seamstress; solicitor, solicitress; songster, songstress; sorcerer, sorceress; suitor, suitress; tiger, tigress; traitor, traitress; victor, victress; votary, votaress.
- In a few instances the feminine is formed as in Latin, by changing or to rix; but some of these have also the regular form, which ought to be preferred: as,
- Adjutor, adjutrix; administrator, administratrix; arbitrator, arbitratrix; coadjutor, coadjutrix; competitor, competitress, or competitrix; creditor, creditrix; director, directress, or directrix; executor, executress, or executrix; inheritor, inheritress, or inheritrix; mediator, mediatress, or mediatrix; orator, oratress, or oratrix; rector, rectress, or rectrix; spectator, spectatress, or spectatrix; testator, testatrix; tutor, tutoress, or tutress, or tutrix; deserter, desertress, or desertrice, or desertrix.
- The following are irregular words, in which the distinction of sex is chiefly made by the termination:
- Amoroso, amorosa: archduke, archduchess; chamberlain, chambermaid; duke, duchess; gaffer, gammer; goodman, goody, or goodwife; hero, heroine; landgrave, landgravine; margrave, margravine; marquis, marchioness; palsgrave, palsgravine; sakeret, sakerhawk; sewer, sewster; sultan, sultana; tzar, tzarina; tyrant, tyranness; widower, widow.
Numbers, in grammar, are modifications that distinguish unity and plurality.
There are two numbers; the singular and the plural.
The singular number is that which denotes but one: as,
- "The boy learns."
The plural number is that which denotes more than one: as,
- "The boys learn."
- Plurals in meaning and form:
- Analects, annals, archives, ashes, assets, billiards, bowels, breeches, calends, cates, chops, clothes, compasses, crants, eaves, embers, estovers, forceps, giblets, goggles, greaves, hards or hurds, hemorrhoids, ides, matins, nippers, nones, obsequies, orgies, piles, pincers or pinchers, pliers, reins, scissors, shears, skittles, snuffers, spectacles, teens, tongs, trowsers, tweezers, umbles, vespers, victuals.
- Plurals by formation, derived chiefly from adjectives:
- Acoustics, aeronautics, analytics, bitters, catoptrics, commons, conics, credentials, delicates, dioptrics, economics, ethics, extraordinaries, filings, fives, freshes, glanders, gnomonics, goods, hermeneutics, hustings, hydrodynamics, hydrostatics, hydraulics, hysterics, inwards, leavings, magnetics, mathematics, measles, mechanics, mnemonics, merils, metaphysics, middlings, movables, mumps, nuptials, optics, phonics, phonetics, physics, pneumatics, poetics, politics, riches, rickets, settlings, shatters, skimmings, spherics, staggers, statics, statistics, stays, strangles, sundries, sweepings, tactics, thanks, tidings, trappings, vives, vitals, wages, withers, yellows.
- Plurals by composition:
- Backstairs, cocklestairs, firearms, headquarters, hotcockles, spatterdashes, self-affairs. To these may be added the Latin words, aborigines, antipodes, antes, antoeci, amphiscii, anthropophagi, antiscii, ascii, literati, fauces, regalia, and credenda, with the Italian vermicelli, and the French belles-lettres and entremets.
Regular plurals 
The plural form is usually represented orthographically by adding s to the singular form. The phonetic form of the plural morpheme is [z] by default. When the preceding sound is a voiceless consonant, it is pronounced [s]. Examples: boy makes boys; girl, girls; chair, chairs; cat, cats.
Where a noun ends in a sibilant sound, the plural is formed by adding es (pronounced [?z]), which is spelled es if the word does not already end with e: glass makes glasses; dish, dishes; witch, witches; phase, phases; judge, judges.
Most nouns ending in o preceded by a consonant also form their plurals by adding es (pronounced [z]): hero makes heroes; potato, potatoes; volcano, volcanoes.
Nouns ending in a y preceded by a consonant drop the y and add ies (pronounced [iz]): cherry makes cherries; lady, ladies.
Proper nouns (particularly those for people or places) ending in a y preceded by a consonant form their plurals regularly: Harry makes Harrys; Germany, Germanys.
This does not apply to words that are merely capitalised common nouns: as, P&O Ferries.
A few common nouns ending in a y preceded by a consonant form their plurals regularly: henry makes henrys; zloty, zlotys.
Words ending in ey form their plurals regularly, in order to avoid the unpleasant-appearing vowel sequence eie: monkey, monkeys.
Almost-regular plurals 
Many nouns of Italian or Spanish origin are exceptions to the oes rule: canto makes cantos; piano, pianos; portico, porticos; quarto, quartos; solo, solos.
Many nouns ending in a voiceless fricative mutate that sound to a voiced fricative before adding the plural ending. In the case of [f] changing to [v] the mutation is indicated in the orthography as well: calf makes calves; bath, baths; mouth, mouths; house, houses.
Some retain the voiceless consonant: proof makes proofs; moth, moths; place, places; dwarf, dwarfs or dwarves; hoof, hoofs or hooves; staff, staffs or staves; turf, turfs or turves; roof, roofs or rooves.
Irregular plurals 
There are many other less regular ways of forming plurals. While they may seem quirky, they usually stem from older forms of English or from foreign borrowings.
Irregular Germanic plurals 
The plural of a few Germanic nouns can also be formed from the singular by adding n or en, stemming from the obsolete weak declension: ox makes oxen; child, children.
The plural is sometimes formed by simply changing the vowel sound of the singular, in a process called umlaut (these are sometimes called mutated plurals): foot makes feet; goose, geese; louse, lice; man, men; mouse, mice; tooth, teeth; woman, women.
Some nouns have singular and plural alike, although they are sometimes seen as regular plurals: as, aircraft, sheep, deer, fish, cod, trout, head, cannon.
Generally, plurals refer to several species or kinds of animal, while the unmarked plural is used to describe multiple individual animals; one would say the classification of fishes, but five fish in an aquarium.
Irregular plurals of foreign origin 
Such nouns often retain their original plurals. In some cases both forms are still vying: for a librarian, the plural of appendix is appendices; for physicians, the plural of appendix is appendixes. A radio engineer works with antennas and an entomologist deals with antennae. The "correct" form is the one that sounds better in context. Correctly formed Latin plurals are the most acceptable, in academic and scientific contexts. In common usage, plurals with s are sometimes preferred.
- Final a becomes ae (also æ) or just adds s:
- Formula makes formulae, lamina, laminae; macula, maculae; minutia, minutiae; nebula, nebulae; siliqua, siliqiuae; dogma, dogmas or dogmata; exanthema, exanthemas or exanthemata; miasm or miasma, miasms or miasmata; stigma, stigmas or stigmata.
- Saliva and scoria have no occasion for the plural.
- Final ex or ix becomes ices (pronounced [??si?z] or [??siz]) or just adds es. Of nouns in x, there are few, if any, which ought not to form the plural regularly, when used as English words; though the Latins changed x to ces, and ex to ices, making the i sometimes long and sometimes short: as,
- Apex, apices, for apexes; appendix, appendices, for appendixes; calix, calices, for calixes; calx, calces, for calxes; calyx, calyces, for calyxes; caudex, caudices, for caudexes; cicatrix, cicatrices, for cicatrixes; helix, helices, for helixes; index, indices, for indexes; matrix, matrices, for matrixes; quincunx, quincunces, for quincunxes; radix, radices, for radixes; varix, varices, for varixes; vertex, vertices, for vertexes; vortex, vortices, for vortexes.
- Some Greek words in x change that letter to ges: as, larynx, larynges, for larinxes; phalanx, phalanges, for phalanxes. Billet-doux, from the French, is billets-doux in the plural.
- Final is becomes es (pronounced [?i?z]. Of nouns in is, some are regular: as, trellis, trellises: so, annolis, butteris, caddis, dervis, iris, marquis, metropolis, portcullis, proboscis.
- Some seem to have no need of the plural: as, ambergris, aqua-fortis, arthritis, brewis, crasis, elephantiasis, genesis, orris, siriasis, tennis.
- But most nouns of this ending follow the Greek or Latin form, which simply changes is to es: as, amanuensis, amanuenses; analysis, analyses; antithesis, antitheses; axis, axes; basis, bases; crisis, crises; diaeresis, diaereses; diesis, dieses; ellipsis, ellipses; emphasis, emphases; fascis, fasces; hypothesis, hypotheses; metamorphosis, metamorphoses; oasis, oases; parenthesis, parentheses; phasis, phases; praxis, praxes; synopsis, synopses; synthesis, syntheses; syrtis, syrtes; thesis, theses.
- In some, however, the original plural is not so formed; but is made by changing is to ides: as, aphis, aphides; apsis, apsides; ascaris, ascarides; bolis, bolides; cantharis, cantharides; chrysalis, chrysalides; ephemeris, ephemerides; epidermis, epidermides.
- So iris and proboscis, which we make regular; and perhaps some of the foregoing may be made so too.
- Final ies remains unchanged: as, series, species.
- Final on becomes a. Of nouns in on, derived from Greek, the greater part always form the plural regularly: as, etymons, gnomons, ichneumons, myrmidons, phlegmons, trigons, tetragons, pentagons, hexagons, heptagons, octagons, enneagons, decagons, hendecagons, dodecagons, polygons.
- So trihedrons, tetrahedrons, pentahedrons, etc., though some say, these last may end in dra.
- For a few words of this class, however, there are double plurals in use; as, automata or atomatons, criteria or criterions, parhelia or parhelions; and the plural of phenomenon' appears to be always phenomena.
- The plural of legumen is legumens or legumina; of stamen, stamens or stamina: of cherub, cherubs or cherubim; of seraph, seraphs or seraphim; of beau, beaus or beaux; of bandit, bandits or banditti.
- Final um becomes a or just adds s: as, addendum makes addenda, medium makes media or mediums. Of nouns in um, some have no need of the plural: as,
- Bdellium, decorum, elysium, equilibrium, guaiacum, laudanum, odium, opium, petroleum, serum, viaticum. Some form it regularly; as, asylums, compendiums, craniums, emporiums, encomiums, forums, frustums, lustrums, mausoleums, museums, pendulums, nostrums, rostrums, residuums, vacuums. Others take either the English or the Latin plural; as, desideratums or desiderata, mediums or media, menstruums or menstrua, memorandums or memoranda, spectrums or spectra, speculums or specula, stratums or strata, succedaneums or succedanea, trapeziums or trapezia, vinculums or vincula. A few seem to have the Latin plural only: as, arcanum, arcana; datum, data; effluvium, effluvia; erratum, errata; scholium, scholia.
- Final us becomes i (second declension), era, ora (third declension), or just adds es (especially in fourth declension, where it would otherwise be the same as the singular): as, alumnus makes alumni, viscus viscera, corpus corpora, prospectus prospectuses.
- But such as have properly become English words, may form the plural regularly in es; as, chorus, choruses: so, apparatus, bolus, callus, circus, fetus, focus, fucus, fungus, hiatus, ignoramus, impetus, incubus, isthmus, nautilus, nucleus, prospectus, rebus, sinus, surplus.
- Radius makes radii or radiuses. Genius has genii, for imaginary spirits, and geniuses, for men of wit. Genus, a sort, becomes genera in Latin, and genuses in English. Denarius makes denarii or denariuses.
- Of nouns in us, a few have no plural: as, asparagus, calamus, mucus.
- Some have only the Latin plural, which usually changes us to i: as, alumnus, alumni; androgynus, androgyni; calculus, calculi; dracunculus, dracunculi; echinus, echini; magus, magi.
- Final us in nouns of Greek origin "properly" add es. These words are also heard with the Latin i instead, which is sometimes considered "over-correct", but this is so common as to be acceptable in most circumstances, even technical ones: cactus makes cactuses or cacti; hippopotamus, hippopotamuses or hippopotami, octopus, octopuses, octopi, or octopodes; platypus, platypuses, rhinoceros, rhinoceroses or rhinoceri, uterus, uteruses or uteri.
- Final as in one case of a noun of Greek origin changes to antes: Atlas makes Atlantes; atles, atlases.
- Final ma in nouns of Greek origin add ta: stigma makes stigmata; stoma, stomata; zeugma, zeugmata.
- Though some take s more commonly: schema makes schemata or schemas; dogma, dogmata or dogmas; lemma, lemmata or lemmas.
- Some nouns of French origin add x: beau makes beaux; chateau, chateaux; bureau, bureaus or bureaux.
- Nouns from Slavic languages: kniazhestvo makes kniazhestvos or kniazhestva; kobzar, kobzars or kobzari, oblast, oblasts or oblasti.
- Nouns of Hebrew language origin add im, ot (generally m/f), or just s: cherub makes cherubim or cherubs; seraph, seraphim or seraphs; matzoh, matzot or matzos.
- The Hebrew plurals cherubim and seraphim, being sometimes mistaken for singulars, other plurals have been formed from them.
- Some nouns of Japanese origin have no plural and do not change: as, samurai, otaku.
- However, other nouns such as kimonos, futons and tsunamis are more often seen with a regular English plural.
- In New Zealand English, nouns of Maori origin can either take an s or have no separate plural form: as, waka makes waka; marae, marae; kohwai, kohwai or kohwais; tui, tuis or tui, kiwi, kiwi or kiwis.
- Nouns from languages that have donated few words to English, and that are spoken by relatively few English-speakers, generally form plurals as if they were native English words: canoe makes canoes; kayak, kayaks; igloo, igloos; kangoroo, kangoroos; sauna, saunas; cwm, cwms; pizza, pizzas; kindergarten, kindergartens.
- In Canada and Alaska, some words borrowed from Inuktitut retain traditional plurals: Inuk makes Inuit; inukshuk, inukshuit.
- Some words of foreign origin are much better known in the plural. In common usage, the proper plural is considered the singular form. Back-formation has usually resulted in a regularized plural: candelabra makes candelabras; data, data; agenda, agendas or agendae; graffiti, graffiti; insignia, insignias; algae, algae or algaes; opera, operas; viscera, viscera; panini, paninis; phalanx, phalanges; magazine, magazines.
Cases, in grammar, are modifications that distinguish the relations of nouns or pronouns to other words.
There are three cases; the nominative, the possessive, and the objective.
The nominative case 
The nominative case is that form or state of a noun or pronoun, which usually denotes the subject of a finite verb: as,
- "The boy runs;"
- "I run."
The subject of a finite verb is that which answers to who or what before it: as,
- "The boy runs."
- Who runs? "The boy."
Boy is therefore here a noun in the nominative case, or nominative.
- I eat an orange
- I buy a chocolate
- I love my family
- I love yellow
The possessive case 
The possessive case is that form or state of a noun or pronoun, which usually denotes the relation of property: as,
- "My hat;"
- "The boy's hat."
Boy is here a noun in the possessive case, or possessive.
The possessive case of nouns is formed, in the singular number, by adding to the nominative s preceded by an apostrophe; and, in the plural, when the nominative ends in s, by adding an apostrophe only: as, singular, boy's; plural, boys'; sounded alike, but written differently.
The objective case 
The objective case is that form or state of a noun or pronoun which usually tells the object of a verb, participle, or preposition: as,
- "I know the boy, having seen him at school; and he knows me."
The object of a verb, participle, or preposition, is that which answers to whom or what after it: as,
- "I know the boy."
- I know whom? "The boy."
Boy is therefore here a noun in the objective case, or objective.
The nominative and the objective of nouns, are always alike in form, being distinguishable from each other only by their place in a sentence, or by their simple dependence according to the sense.
- I am playing with my football.
- I take her bag.
- Anoud's room is dirty.
The declension of nouns 
The declension of a noun is a regular arrangement of its numbers and cases. Thus:
Sing. Nom. friend, Plur. Nom. friends, Poss. friend's, Poss. friends', Obj. friend; Obj. friends. Sing. Nom. man, Plur. Nom. men, Poss. man's, Poss. men's, Obj. man; Obj. men. Sing. Nom. fox, Plur. Nom. foxes, Poss. fox's, Poss. foxes', Obj. fox; Obj. foxes. Sing. Nom. fly, Plur. Nom. flies, Poss. fly's, Poss. flies', Obj. fly; Obj. flies.
The noun as a modifier 
A short syntax 
The subject must be in the nominative case, as "You say it."
The subject is placed before the attribute, as "Peace dawned on his mind," except the following cases: a question, as "How many loaves have you?" imperative mood, as "Go you," strong feeling, as "May she be happy!" a supposition, as "Were it true," neither or nor, as "Neither shall you touch it," emphasis, as "Here am I," no regimen, as "Echo the mountains round," dialogue, as "My name is Hassan," and the adverb there, as "There lived a man."
A noun in apposition is put in the same case as the noun it explains, as "But he, our gracious master, knows us."
A possessive is governed by the name of the thing possessed, as "Man's life."
A possessive comes immediately before the governing noun, as "Nature's peace," except the following cases: an intervening adjective, as "Flora's earliest smells," affirmation or denial, as "The book is not John's," a possessive without sign, as "Brother Absalom's house," or "David and Jonathan's friendship."
The predicate is governed by attribute in objective case, as "I found her."
A noun or a pronoun put after a non-transitive verb or participle, agrees in case with a preceding noun or pronoun referring to the same thing, as "The child was named John."
The case of absolute noun or pronoun depends on no other word, as "Your fathers, where are they?"
- A part of the text in this article, was taken from the public domain English grammar "The Grammar of English Grammars" by Goold Brown, 1851.
- An English Grammar by W. M. Baskervill and J. W. Sewell, 1895.
- The Wikipedia article on Collective noun.
- The Wikipedia article on Count noun.
- The Wikipedia article on English plural.
- The Wikipedia article on Mass noun.
- The Wikipedia article on Noun.