1 General characteristics and classification
2 Grammatical categories
3 Combinability and functions in the
CRITERIA for the devision of words into
parts of speech:
Semantic (meaning)
Formal (form)
derivational features
a set of gram. categories
function in the sentence
Semantic features (meaning)
The noun is main nominative part of speech
expressing substance by which we mean
- names of lifeless things (tree, window),
- living beings (woman, bird),
- places (city, London, Belarus),
- materials (gold, oil),
- processes and states (life, growth, sleep, consciousness),
- abstract notions (socialism, joy, evil, happiness)
- qualities (kindness, courage).
Formal criterion: derivational features
• Typical stem-building morphemes:
Dent-ist, teach-er, friend-ship, develop-ment,
lion-ess, secur-ity, ag-ism, address-ee etc.
• Stem-structure:
Formal criterion: a set of grammmatical
• Number (friend-friends, tooth – teeth, ox-oxen)
• Case (child – children’s, the USA – theUSA’s, friends
– friends’)
• Gender (widow – widower, lion – lioness, he-cat –
• Article determination (a book – the book – books,
weather – the weather, a deer – the deer - deer)
Combinability depends on the lexicalgrammatical meaning
Nouns are associated with qualities (adjectives),
their number and order (numerals),
their actions (verbs ),
relations (prepositions).
Nouns have left-hand connections with articles
(a day), some pronouns (my friend ), most adjectives
(good relations ), numerals (two visitors ).
With prepositions nouns have both left-hand and righthand connections ( to Moscow, a friend of mine)
The problem of the N+N construction
A. I. Smirnitsky and O. S. Akhmanova regard these units
as a kind of unstable compounds easily developing
into word-combinations.
• The first components, they say, are not nouns since:
- they are not used in the plural (cf. a rose garden and a
garden of roses). The first components are noun-stems
convertible into adjectives (adjectivization)
- Nouns are used as attributes only in the possessive case or with
a preposition.
Functions in the sentence
• The most characteristic substantive functions of the noun are
- the subject and the object in the sentence,
• Other syntactic functions, i.e. attributive
are not immediately characteristic of its substantive
From the grammatical point of view
• countables and uncountables (with regard to
the category of number)
Countable nouns can agree with the verb in the singular and in the plural;
they can take the indefinite article, they are used with the indefinite
pronouns many or (a) few:
• declinables and indeclinables (with regard to
the category of case)
Declinables take the form of the ????
Semantic classification
• proper – common (week – Sunday),
• abstract – concrete – collective (meaning –
table – family),
• countable – uncountable (days – fruit),
• animate – inanimate (dog – sofa),
• personal - non-personal (The Smiths – a
The category of number
1 it is accepted by all the scholars
2 It is expressed by the opposition of the plural
form to the singular form of the noun:
king- – kings+
singular only (singularia tantum) – plural only
(pluralia tantum): snow, joy -police, trousers.
The category of case
• In English the only morphologically marked
case admitted by many linguists is the
Possessive case: dolphin – dolphin's; Dickens’
• Common and Genitive. The Common case has
no inflection and its meaning is very general.
The “of + noun” phrase is used with nouns
denoting inanimate objects (a boy’s leg - the
leg of the table).
• The discussion of the case problem is still an
open question
The main theories:
1) The limited case theory
2) The positional case theory
3) The prepositional case theory
4) There is NO CASE in English
Other approaches:
- Apostrophe is a punctuation mark
- ‘S + N is an analytical form of the noun
The category of gender
• Gender does not find any morphological
expression in English!!!
• The distinction of male, female and neuter can
be understood from
- the lexical meaning (a man- a woman),
the use of personal pronouns he, she, it which
replace the noun
- the use of derivational suffixes (a waiter-waitress),
- compounding (a she-crab soup), (a man-servant).
The category of article determination
• The problem of English articles is a long
debated question. The most disputable aspects
are the following:
- the status of the article as a language unit;
- the number of articles
- categorical and pragmatic functions of the
What language level does the article belong to?
• The article is a WORD
• The article is
“A stone” is a phrase (a
“A stone” is an analytical
“A” is a determiner/article (a form of the word “storm”;
functional part of speech) the paradigm of the word
“stone” consists of 4
words, they are ?????
(write the paradigm)
1) The position of the article can be
occupied by other words:
demonstrative and possessive
pronouns, numerals, nouns in the
possessive case etc. Words which
have distribution similar to the article
are called determiners.
2) The role of a determiner is to specify
the range of reference to the noun by
making it definite or indefinite.
3) The article plays an important role in
structuring information. It is one of
the means of distinguishing between
facts already known – the theme,
and new information – the rheme.
The definite article is the marker of
the theme and the indefinite article is
the marker of the rheme.
The Russian word “pyk” means the
plural of the word “pyka” in the
genetive case. Similarly, the form
“children” means the plural,
common case, indefinite.
There are no syntactic relations
between, for ex. “a” and “person”
in “a person”
Continue the list, SEE THE CRITERIA
for the definition of a wordmorpheme
How many articles are there in
• Two
- Definite article
- Indefinite article
Three (a, the and a Zero-article )
- Definite article
- indefinite article
- Zero-article,
(often treated as the
“omission of the article” or
the absence of the article.
“The absence of the article is
a special kind of article, which
is termed “zero article”.

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