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IDENTIFYING NOUNS AND ADJECTIVES

In this session, you will learn how to


identify
Nouns
Gerunds and infinitives as nouns
Adjectives
Participles as adjectives.

Introduction
What is a part of speech? Well, every word we use in English performs one of
eight functions. Each of these functions is a part of speech. A great many
words serve as several parts of speech because the part is determined by the
function of that particular word in the sentence. We'll talk about this later in
the program.
But first, let's review some facts about the noun.

Nouns
A noun is a name of a person, place, thing, idea, action, quality, or event.
The following list contains nouns that name persons:
Mary, sister, Mr. Jones, teacher, members, mother-in-law.
The following list contains nouns that name places:
Montreal, home, suburbs, Somalia, colleges, Lake Louise.
The following list contains nouns that name things:
Automobile, house, Monday, Skydome, sandwich, trucks.
The following list contains nouns that name ideas:
Democracy, mathematics, gravity, law, solitude.
The following list contains nouns that name some common actions:
eating, to eat, sleeping, to sleep, camping, to camp.
The following list contains nouns that name qualities:
Beauty, patience, majesty, loyalty, stupidity, importance.
The following list contains nouns that name events:
The Great War, The Gold Rush, The Riel Rebellion, The Renaissance.

Proper nouns
A noun beginning with a capital letter is a proper noun:
"Jose," "Ottawa," "Monday" are proper nouns.

Proper nouns made up of more than one word are called "proper-noun
phrases":
"Ms. Murphy," "Prime Minister Chretien," and "Vice-Chancellor Bodine," are
proper noun phrases.
Proper-noun phrases must be considered as single nouns.

Gerunds

Words such as "running" may be nouns if the action of "running" is not taking
place in the sentence. In the sentence
"Jogging is a healthful activity,"
the word "jogging" is the name of an action. So "jogging" is a gerund, an "ing"
form of a word that acts as a noun.

Infinitives

Combinations of "to" plus an action (to run), known as infinitives, are always
nouns. For example, in the sentence
"Serpa wanted to pass her test with honours,"
the phrase "to pass" is a noun, naming something that Serpa wanted.
Whether a noun names a person, place, thing, idea, action, quality, or event
depends on how the noun functions in the sentence.
Now let's review some facts about the adjective

Adjectives

An adjective is a word that describes (or modifies) a noun or a pronoun.


An adjective tells the reader something about the noun or the pronoun. An
adjective makes a noun or pronoun more exact by telling some of the things
listed below:
What colour: "the blue towel"
How many: "four letters"
Where from: "Italian marble"
How big: "the huge room"
What size, shape, temperature: "a six-foot fence," "a square hole," "a hot
drink"
What age, weight, height: "the old barn," "the heavy load," "the tall building"
What texture, consistency, construction: "the rough surface," "the thick fog,"
"the brick mansion"
What condition: "a dilapidated cabin," "a tired man"
What type: "a dining table."

Participles

The present and past participles can be used as adjectives. For example, in the
sentence
"We admired the setting sun,"
there is no action of setting going on in the sentence. "Setting" is the present
participle of the verb to set and is functioning as an adjective describing the
noun "sun."
In the sentence
"Sam's repeated questions annoyed us,"
there is no action of repeating going on in the sentence. "Repeated" is the past
participle of the verb to repeat and is functioning as an adjective describing
the noun "questions."
To simplify matters, we will consider the words "a," "an," and "the" as
adjectives.
The same word can be a noun or an adjective; how the word functions in the
sentence determines which it will be.

Exercises

Select the answer that correctly identifies the function (part of speech) of the
words in parentheses (brackets). Work from left to right as the words appear in
the sentence. The answers appear after the last question.
Example: The (production) (manager) mailed the (letter) herself.
Answer: adjective noun noun
1. (Mr. Steinberg) wanted (to read) the (sales) contract.
A. adjective adjective adjective
B. adjective adjective noun
C. adjective noun noun
D. noun noun noun
E. noun adjective noun
F. noun noun adjective
2. (To graduate) with honours is an (admirable) (goal).
A. adjective adjective adjective
B. adjective adjective noun
C. adjective noun noun
D. noun noun noun
E. noun adjective noun
F. noun noun adjective

3. (Running) and (walking) are not (demanding) activities.


A. adjective adjective adjective
B. adjective adjective noun
C. adjective noun noun
D. noun noun noun
E. noun adjective noun
F. noun noun adjective
4. (To write) and (to speak) well require (practice).
A. adjective adjective adjective
B. adjective adjective noun
C. adjective noun noun
D. noun noun noun
E. noun adjective noun
F. noun noun adjective
5. (Effective) (studying) will improve your (grades).
A. adjective adjective adjective
B. adjective adjective noun
C. adjective noun noun
D. noun noun noun
E. noun adjective noun
F. noun noun adjective
6. (Some) (hungry) (Bosnian) refugees asked for food.
A. adjective adjective adjective
B. adjective adjective noun
C. adjective noun noun
D. noun noun noun
E. noun adjective noun
F. noun noun adjective
7. On a (cool) (Monday) (morning), we left the city behind.
A. adjective adjective adjective
B. adjective adjective noun
C. adjective noun noun
D. noun noun noun
E. noun adjective noun
F. noun noun adjective
8. The (children) played in the (fluffy) white (snow).
A. adjective adjective adjective
B. adjective adjective noun
C. adjective noun noun
D. noun noun noun
E. noun adjective noun
F. noun noun adjective

9. The (noise) and the (wind) made (concentration) impossible.


A. adjective adjective adjective
B. adjective adjective noun
C. adjective noun noun
D. noun noun noun
E. noun adjective noun
F. noun noun adjective
10.
The (old) (tired) (horse) could barely pull the milk cart.
A. adjective adjective adjective
B. adjective adjective noun
C. adjective noun noun
D. noun noun noun
E. noun adjective noun
F. noun noun adjective
Answers
1, F. 2, E. 3, F. 4, D. 5, C. 6, A. 7, B. 8, E. 9, D. 10, B.