EVERYTHING you need to know about English names
A noun in English is a word that names something, such as a person, place, thing, or idea. In a sentence, nouns can play the role of subject, direct object, indirect object, subject complement, object complement, appositive, or adjective.
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Nouns take many different shapes and sizes. The main ones are common nouns, proper nouns, abstract nouns, and collective nouns.
Classes of names
1. Common: boy, pencil, computer (niño, lápiz, computadora).
2. Own: Albert, Fernando Zóbel, London (Albert, Fernando Zóbel, Londres).
3. Abstracts: Charity, beauty (caridad, belleza).
4. Collectives: Team, swarm (equipo, enjambre).
The plural of nouns
Most singular nouns are made plural by simply putting an -s at the end. There are many different rules regarding pluralization depending on the letter a noun ends in. Irregular nouns do not follow the rules of the plural noun, so they must be memorized or looked up in the dictionary.
Rules of the plural noun
There are many rules for plural nouns, and because we use nouns so often when writing, it is important to know all of them. The correct spelling of plurals generally depends on which letter the singular noun ends with.
The general rule for forming the plural of nouns in English is to add -S- to them.
Boy-boys, book-books, window-windows.
(chico-chicos, libro-libros, ventana-ventanas).
We could say that eight out of ten nouns in English form the plural in this way, however, we have to take into account the exceptions.
Exceptions to the general rule
A) Names ending in SH, CH, SS, S, X, ZZ form, with few exceptions, the plural by adding -ES.
- Dish-dishes, church-churches, class-classes, bus-buses, box-boxes, buzz-buzzes.
(plato-platos, iglesia-iglesias, clase-aulas, autobús-autobuses, caja-cajas, zumbidos).
Phonetics: these plurals are pronounced / iz /
B) Those nouns ending in -F, either spelling or phonetic (loaf, wife), form the plural, with few exceptions, substituting -F- for -VES.
- Wife-wives, loaf-loaves .
C) Names ending in -Y preceded by a consonant, form the plural by substituting -Y- for -IES.
- Lady ladies, city-cities.
Plurals of Saxon origin
These plurals are irregular and come from the old Anglo-Saxon and are, among others, the following:
Man-men, woman-women, child-children, ox-oxen (ox).
(Hombre-hombres, mujer-mujeres, niño-niños, bueyes-bueyes).
They are, among others, foot-feet, goose-geese, tooth-teeth, louse-lice, mouse-mice, etc (pies-pies, gansos-gansos, dientes-dientes, piojos-piojos, ratones-ratones).
Gender in English can be formed in three different ways and poses much less problems than in Spanish since in this language we must know the gender of adjectives and nouns, while in English we deduce it from the context. For example: In Spanish, we say “La chica es lista” (la = feminine article, girl and list we know that it is feminine by the a).
In English this problem does not exist since when we say “The girl is clever” we imagine the gender of the words by the context: when we put “girl”, we will know that “the” is the and not the and that “clever” is ready and not ready.
Ways to express gender in English
- By using the suffix -RES to form the feminine.
Actor-actress, lion-lioness, waiter-waitress.
(Actor-actriz, camarero-camarera, leona-leona).
- In other nouns, gender is determined by the word itself, which is different for masculine and feminine.
(Man-woman, husband-wife, brother-sister, and boy-girl).
(Hombre-mujer, marido-mujer, hermano-hermana, chico-chica.)
- There are other nouns that do not have a clear gender distinctive and will be masculine, feminine or neutral depending on the context: painter (pintor/a), writer (escritor/a), teacher (profesor/a).
The Possessive Case (The Saxon Genitive)
What is it? The Saxon genitive or “Possessive case ” which is how it is often called in grammar, is a shortened way of expressing the possessor of something and what it possesses. It is, in short, a common tendency in language to save words.
In order to use the Saxon genitive we need a, let’s call him, possessor (Juan, my father, his uncle) Juan, my father, his uncle, and something that is owned or belongs to him in a certain way. It is formed by placing first the owner plus an apostrophe and the thing that is owned.
- The bike of my son (incorrect).
- My son’s bike (correct).
If the holder is plural ending in -s, only the apostrophe (without -s) is placed.
- The toy of the boys (incorrect).
- The boys´ toy (correct).
Compound names are considered simple.
- My father-in-law’s house.
(My father-in-law’s house).
When there are two owners, only the apostrophe and the -s are placed in the second.
- Romeo and Juliet´s love.
The love of Romeo and Juliet.
The Saxon genitive must necessarily be used when the sentence meets the conditions for them, that is when there is a person or animal that owns something. It is therefore not correct to say: “The house of my friends is very nice “.
The correct thing is to say “My friend’s house is very nice .” (La casa de mi amigo es muy linda).
“The drawer of the table”, for example, cannot be put in the Saxon genitive so it is correct.
There are some expressions of time in which, exceptionally, the Saxon genitive must also be used.
- “Yesterday’s newspaper”.
(Periódico de ayer).
- “Today’s homework”
(Tarea de hoy).