Nouns and Verbs

The first thing I want to check is that you know the difference between nouns and verbs. They are the most basic and the smallest grammatical units. They're the bricks. If sentences are houses, they're made of noun bricks and verb bricks.

So what are nouns? Well, as my third grade teacher, Mrs. Stoops, said, "Nouns are persons, places, or things." That's not a bad definition. It's incomplete but I can't give you a complete definition either. What I can do is add to the list for a bit more completeness. Nouns are persons, places, things, ideas, concepts, or processes. That's good enough for the test.

Examples of nouns: a cat, mountains, New York City, circulation, Joe, hypothesis, love.

What an eclectic list! Where's the common thread? Why are they grouped together as nouns? I don't know. But, they are nouns and I can recognize them as nouns when I see them in a sentence. And I'm pretty sure that you can too. Your intuitions as a speaker of English, while subject to failure elsewhere, are pretty solid here. Rely on it.

What are verbs? They are words that indicate action, more or less. Examples of verbs include pet, climb, drive, circulate, vote, think, and love.

What about be or have or own or must be or could have? Are those actions? No... but maybe they're "action-ish"? Well, whatever they are, they're verbs. And just like with nouns, we have to rely on this "I know it when I see it" approach.

See full diagram.


Nouns and verbs are basic grammatical units. Rely on your intuitions to identify them.

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