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Meaning, forms, function

Meaning – thingness. Singular and plural. Some individual nouns may lack the singular or the plural form. They have the category of case – common and genitive.

The noun may combine with words to form phrases. A noun combines with a preceding adjective (# a large room), but occasionally it may combine with a following adjective (# times – memorial). It may combine with a preceding noun in a common case (# iron ball) and in the genitive case (# student's room).

It may combine with a verb following it (# children play) or with preceding word.

Occasionally the noun may combine with a following or preceding adverb. It also combines with prepositions (# in this room; the room of rest).

It's typical for English nouns to be preceding by a definite or indefinite article.

The function in the sentence – the noun may function in the sentence as subject, predicative, object, attribute and adverbial modifier.



Modal have been recently separated from different parts of speech. Traditionally they were taken with adverbs. By modal words we mean such words as "possibly", "perhaps", "certainly" etc.

Meaning. Modal words express the speakers evaluation between an action and reality. Form. They are invariable. Function in phrases. They do not enter any phrases but they stand outside them. In few cases they may enter into a phrase with a noun, an adjective, etc. Function in the sentence. The function in the sentence is a matter of controversy. Modal words perform in the sentence the function of parenthesis. Modal words may form sentences in themselves.


We have considered the system of part of speech as this problem is turned and treated in grammatical tradition. Some modern linguists prefer to avoid this traditional classification. They established a non-traditional classification which is based on the morphological characteristics of words and their ability or inability to enter into phrases with other words. The classes of words do not have special terms. Instead they are given numbers. According to this non-traditional classification, given by professor Fries, there are nineteen classes of words.

The number of each class is bound to the greater group of words than that of the usual part of speech. A non-traditional classification proved to be unfit.

The problem of notional and formal words

All words of modern English can be divided into two main groups: notional and formal.

Notional words denote things, notions and other extra-linguistic phenomena.

Formal words denote relations and connections between notional words.

The term "formal words" implies that the word has some function in building a phrase or a sentence. This function is mainly performed by prepositions and conjunctions. According to this point of view particles belong to formal words.



The noun

The noun in modern English has only two grammatical categories: number and case. The noun doesn't have the grammatical category of gender (šīä). This category may be found in other European languages. Not a single noun in modern English shows any peculiarities in its morphology denoting a male or female.

The category of number: single and plural. The essential meaning of singular and plural form shows that one object is meant or many objects are meant. The opposition is one àmore than one. However the category of number gives rise to several problems. First of all there are different forms of words which denote various things (water – waters).

The meaning of the word "waters" in the phrase "in the Atlantic Ocean" refers to geographical notion, it denotes a seascape. And has a specific stylistic value. It makes the difference between the singular and the plural forms in the lexical meaning which it has developed. The difference between the two numbers may increase to such a degree that the plural form develops a completely new lexical meaning which the singular form doesn't have at all.

Pluralia Tantum and Singlaria Tantum. We have two types of noun which differ from all others in the number. They do not have the usual two forms but only one form. The nouns which have only the plural form are usually termed as Pluralia Tantum. The nouns which have only the singular form are termed as Singlaria Tantum. Among the Pluralia Tantum are such nouns as scissors, shorts, jeans, etc. They include nouns of two types. The first group includes the nouns which denote material objects consisting of two halves. The second group denotes a more or less indefinite plurality. If we compare the English with the Russian we will find that in some cases they correspond to each other. But other nouns do not correspond ('alum). The reason why the given object is denoted by a Pluralia Tantum noun is not quite clear. Close to the group of Pluralia Tantum are some names of sciences (The names of diseases).

The way of creating Pluralia Tantum is connected with the structure of English as a whole.

The possibility of treating the plural form as if it were singular form is the use of the noun "The United Nations" in phrases it may be the subject of the sentence and have the predicate verb in the singular form.

Examples of Pluralia Tantum include nouns in a plural form which are modified by a pronoun in the singular form.

The way of showing the uniting of a certain quantity appears to be a very common case in present-day English. The direct opposite of the Pluralia Tantum are the Singlaria Tantum. Among them we have nouns denoting material substances (milk, sugar, butter, etc.). Besides they include the names of abstract notions (justice, freedom). Some of them strictly speaking denote notions which are outside of the category of number.

But in the morphological and syntactical system the English noun cannot stand outside the category of number. The noun is the subject in the sentence and the predicate in its finite form has to be either singular or plural. With the nouns of the group Singlaria Tantum the predicate verb is always singular.

Some nouns denoting substance or material may have a plural form if they are used to denote either an object made of this material or a special kind of substance. The noun "white" denotes certain substance, but "whites" denotes several special kinds of wines.

Collective nouns and nouns of multitude

They denote groups of human beings (party, clergy etc.), also they denote some animals (cattle etc.). They may be used in different ways. If they are taken to denote the group as a whole, they are treated in singular and they are termed as collective nouns. But if they are taken to denote the group consisting of a certain number of animals or individuals they are termed as nouns of multitude (My family is small; My family are good readers; The cattle were in the field). The noun "people" in the singular form denotes a group of human beings and "peoples" denote "nations". "People" can be modified by the attribute "many" and "few" and by cardinal numerals.


Date: 2015-02-16; view: 2357

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