8 Noun Uses - Gordon State College
8 Noun Uses - Gordon State College
Nine Noun Functions
A NOUN is a part of speech. It can
FUNCTION in 8 different ways.
(PRONOUNS stand in the place of
nouns & can function any way a noun
The subject USUALLY does the action:
John ran away from the monster.
Five days a week my mother dusts.
Nearing the yellow light, the driver sped up.
“It’s not fair!” shouted John.
Note that occasionally, as in d., the subject can follow the verb.
Sometimes the subject receives the action. That’s what’s called a
passive voice sentence. There will always be a form of “to be”
(is,are,was,were,be) & a past participle (jumped, laughed, eaten,
spoken, sung, frozen, etc.)
The song was sung a capella.
The book was written in 1988.
John was hit in the head.
2. Direct Object
A direct object follows the verb & receives its action. It
answers the question “what” or “whom”:
John threw the ball. (Threw what?)
Tomorrow morning Elisa will meet your sister. (Meet
We helped him with his homework. (Helped whom?)
He doesn’t understand anything about what he just
read. (Understand what? “Anything” is a pronoun.)
While hiking, Alicia found a silver bracelet.
3. Indirect Object
The indirect object follows the verb &
answers to/for whom. (It can also be
to/for what, but it’s usually to/for whom.)
The indirect object is frequently a
a. John gave me the money. (to whom?)
b. Elisa sent John a letter. (to whom?)
c. Addison bought Alex a car. (for whom?)
4. Predicate Nominative (Predicate Noun)
A predicate nominative follows the verb &
renames the subject.
John is a student.
A Christmas Carol is a good book.
Elisa became a lawyer.
Addison will be an excellent surgeon.
Emory is a private university.
5. Object of a Preposition
Prepositions are words that link the rest of the
sentence to their object. English is full of
them: of, near, after, before, from, to, through,
under, over, across, with…to name a few. A
preposition has to have an object, & the object
is a noun or pronoun.
He left after class.
I work with your friend.
My best friend lives across the street.
Over the river & through the woods to
Grandmother’s house we go.
An appositive follows a noun & renames it.
a. My sister Rita lives in Virginia.
b. The book I’m reading, The Scarlet Letter,
is set in the U.S.
c. I met my friend Helene last year.
7. Objective Complement
An objective complement renames the direct
object. It can be distinguished from an
appositive (which can rename ANY noun) by
determining if the words “to be” can be
inserted before it.
a. We elected Obama (to be) president.
b. I consider him (to be) my brother.
*He saw my sister Rita yesterday.
“Rita” in the last sentence is an appositive, not an
objective complement, because you couldn’t
say, “He saw my sister to be Rita yesterday.”
8. Retained Object
A retained object follows a passive voice
verb (“to be”—is/are/was/were/be-- +
a. He was fed spinach. (Was fed what?)
b. They were given a new kitten. (Were
c. He was elected president. (Was elected
9. Noun of direct address
You use a noun of direct address when
talking to someone:
a. Juan, when are you going to leave?
b. Mr. Smith, I haven’t finished the list.
c. Professor Gellar, I need to turn in my
Traditionally, the following two usages aren’t considered
functions of a noun because they are adjectives. But
they are nouns that function as adjectives. If you study
a foreign language, it’s helpful to know when it’s a
noun we’re using as an adjective in English, because
chances are a noun can’t be used as an adjective in
the language you’re studying.
I need a paint bucket.
Give him that water glass.
We also make nouns possessive so that they can function
I met your mother’s friend.
We saw the clown’s face.
Go here for the assignment.
ons2.htm (In this one, “subjective complement”
is the term used for a predicate nominative.)