The Uses of Grammar

By Judith Rodby; W. Ross Winterowd | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 8
Nominals: Nouns and Noun
Phrases, Nonfinite Verbs

CHAPTER PREVIEW
Nouns are defined notionally, according to meaning; formally, according to such features as suffixes (e.g., with the suffix -ation, the verb consider becomes the noun consideration); and functionally, according to the ways in which they can be used in sentences, for example, as subject (Hogs eat slops) or as object (Farmers raise hogs).
Nouns of two types are described: common (e.g., apple, bird, charcoal) and proper (e.g., Austria, Baptist, Carla).
Nouns can be either singular (e.g., limit, mouse) or plural (e.g., limits, mice).
Some nouns can normally be counted (e.g., one film, two films, three films) and some, depending on context, usually are considered noncount (e.g., rice, water).
Nouns are the heads of noun phrases; determiners are optional elements of noun phrases (e.g., the lesson, that concerto, these tickets.) Adjectives, also optional elements of noun phrases, may be placed between the determiner and the noun (e.g., the hard lesson, that beautiful concerto, these expensive tickets).
Present participles (gerunds) and infinitives can be used as nominals.

NOMINALS AND NOUN PHRASES

This chapter is the first of three dealing with nominals. The word nominal will be used for all structures that can function as subjects, objects (direct, indirect, objects of prepositions), and complements. In other words, a nominal is a noun or any word or phrase that can be substituted for a noun in function, the word noun denoting a form and nominal denoting a function. Take a close look at the following examples:

The wish seems strange.
That seems strange.
This seems strange.

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