Nouns name people, places, or things. Nouns are often the subject in a sentence. A singular noun takes a singular verb in a sentence; a plural noun take a plural verb.

  1. Capitalize proper nouns that name specific people, places, or things.
    • Do not capitalize common nouns that name general people, places, or things.
      • Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States.
      • In my travels, I have visited all fifty states.
  2. Some nouns ending in –s are singular, some are plural, and some are both singular and plural.
    • Examples:
      • Singular: News, Pass, Lens
      • Plural: Earnings, Assets, Thanks
      • Both Singular and Plural: Series, Species, Headquarters
    • For help, check your dictionary.
  3. If a noun ends in –ics and refers to a body of knowledge, a science, or a course of study, it is usually singular.
    • Mathematics
    • Phonetics
    • Semantics
  4. If a noun ends in –ics and refers to concrete activities, practices, or phenomena, it is usually plural.
    • Athletics
    • Mechanics
    • Acoustics
  5. A collective noun refers to a group (army, audience, board, etc.) and may be singular or plural.
    • If the group is acting as a unit, the noun is singular and takes a singular verb.
      • The band is ready to perform.
    • If members of the group are acting individually, the noun is plural and takes a plural verb.
      • The band are practicing their instruments.
    • To make the sentence clearer, insert a plural noun after the collective noun.
      • The band members are practicing their instruments.
  6. A compound noun consists of two or more words joined or used together to refer to one person, place, or thing.
    • Compound nouns may have a hyphen, but most do not:
      • Truck stop
      • Bathroom
      • Sister-in-law
      • Part-time student
  7. Use the articles a or an or the before nouns you can count.
    • Countable nouns have singular and plural forms and can be used after the words many or several.
      • Chair
      • Pen
      • Apple
    • Do no use articles before uncountable nouns. Uncountable nouns have no plural forms and cannot be used after the words many or several.
      • Wisdom
      • Furniture
      • Information