Technical English–Nouns Lecture Notes

Anna University

Technical English I & II Lecture Notes

Nouns Explanation


Types of nouns:

Compound: seaside, son-in-law, drinking water, car key, afternoon tea

Proper nouns: a particular person, place, thing or idea. Capital letter.

Peter, London, Monday, January, Christmas, Europe

Common nouns: not a particular person, place, thing, idea. May be preceded by a, an, the

Common nouns may be countable or uncountable

Countable nouns

Can be preceded by a, an, how many?, one, two etc

and have a plural –s ending

Stamp, girl, house, bottle, kilo, piece

Uncountable nouns

Are not preceded by a, an, how many?, one, two

Usually don’t have plural endings

Meat, oil, cotton, milk, drinking, English (the language)

Nouns can be concrete (they have a physical existence): girl, crowd, rice, camping

Or they can be abstract (no physical existence): hope, idea, remark, situation, anger, honesty

Some nouns can be either countable or uncountable, depending on their use.

Countable (single item, thing) Uncountable (substance, material)

To eat a whole chicken Would you like some chicken

a boiled egg There’s egg on your face

I broke a glass Glass is made from sand

What do the papers say Paper is made from wood

Specific reference: General reference:

You need a good education Education should be free

Try not to make a noise Noise is a kind of pollution

What a nice painting Painting is my hobby

Are these drawings yours I’m no good at drawing

The school is new School is compulsory

Some times uncountables can be used as countables:

U: do you like red wine? I have two bottles of red wine

C: this region produces an excellent wine

Three coffees, please

Uncountable equivalent countable

Bread a loaf

Clothing a garment

Laughter a laugh

Luggage a case, a bag

Poetry a poem

Money a coin, a note

Work a job

Uncountable in English (countable in other languages)

Baggage, furniture, information, macaroni, machinery, spaghetti

(some information, a new piece of furniture)

Partitives to refer to specific pieces of uncountable substances or a limited number of countable items:

A loaf of bread, a slice of bread, a piece of paper, two boxes of matches, pieces of chalk, meat, plastic, drop of water, pinch of salt, game of football, pair of jeans, board of directors etc.

A pot of tea (the container with tea in it), a teapot (the container)

Collective nouns with singular or plural verbs

Audience, class, club, committe, company, council, crew, crowd, family, gang, government, group, jury, mob, staff, team, union

(no plural form): the aristocracy, the gentry, the majority, the minority, the public,

economics, ethics, phonetics, statistics (if reference to academic subject: singular verb, specific reference: plural verb)

Plural verb:

Cattle, the clergy, the military, people, the police, swine

Trousers, glasses, belongings, brains (intellects), clothes, congratulations, earnings, goods, greens (vegetables), lodgings, looks, means, odds, riches, stairs, surroundings, thanks

Singular verb:

News, billiards, darts, dominoes, Athens, Brussels,

Athletics, gymnastics, linguistics, mathematics, physics,

The genitive

’s: child’s, actress’s, children’s, James’s or James’

’: gils’, boys’


the key of the door, the leg of the table (non-living things don’t usually have an ’s genitive / door key, table leg) some times both genitive forms are possible: a man’s voice / the voice of a man

NOUNS exercises

1. Find the corresponding noun:

draw act describe

admit treat punish

refuse deny bake

kind idle false

safe real possible

true strong just

ignorant innocent secret

jealous symbolize bleed

feed live believe

breathe bathe

2. Translate the following sentences into idiomatic English

a. Alle pengene er borte

b. Kan du skaffe flere opplysninger

c. Kan jeg få låne en saks av deg?

d. Mesteparten av gjengen har kommet

e. Penger betyr ikke så mye for meg

f. Susan kjøpte en ny shorts til broren sin

g. Vi trenger to brød og fire liter melk

h. Dette er et godt råd til alle som studerer engelsk

3. Expanding uncountables.

Example: art – a work of art

bread coffee

furniture information

knowledge luck

news poetry

4. Identify the head of the following noun phrases

a. the simple, good things in life

b. an idealist who thrives on competition

c. clever and ambitious business people in their mid-thirties

d. all Volvo safety features

e. the foundation of today’s superpower

f. two highly successful television adverts for toothpaste

5. What’s wrong?

Rephrase the sentences to bring out the intended meaning

a. Special coctails for the ladies with nuts

b. Two sisters were reunited after 18 years at a checkout counter

c. We sell unique tables for children with adjustable legs

d. The hotel has special rooms for women that cost $100 a night

6. Identify the noun phrases, state which word classes the words belong to

a. And today I had my first encounter with the Civil Service, and I must say I am very impressed

b. I got a call from Number Ten at about 9 a.m., after a sleepless night, and immediately Frank Weisel and I caught the London train

7. Difference in form and meaning

Comment on the difference in form and meaning between the members of the following pairs

a. I like coffee / I’d like two coffees, please

b. In the hall was a painting of her father / In the hall was a painting of her father’s

c. He was looking for a girl in a red dress / He was looking for a girl in Mill Street

d. I thought his work was wonderful / I thought his works were wonderful

8. Rewrite

Rewrite the following sentences

Example: Then we can discuss who is going to contribute what
Then we can have a discussion about who is going to contribute what

a. The book will be published next spring

We look forward to ……

b. They’re interested in a poet who catches murderers

They expressed their …..

c. They discussed the merits of Kafka

There followed a …..