Tag Archives: nouns

English 362: Ch. 9 Nouns that Modify Nouns

Heyo pwips! Since there seemed to be some confusion about this in class, here’s some more instruction on nouns that modify nouns.

We know that adjectives and prepositional phrases can modify nouns-but so can other nouns. Take, for example, the phrase “chicken soup bowl.” The entire phrase is clearly an NP, with the head noun being “bowl.” But what about “chicken soup?”

To break it down further, we know that “chicken soup” is a noun phrase on its own. This means that there must be at least two NPs branching off the original NP node, like in the figure below.

GSWE PWP example 1

Because it is a part of the original NP, we know that the function of “chicken soup” must be “Modif of ‘bowl.'”

However, we still have an NP made up of 2 nouns, which we can break down further.  Because there are two distinct nouns in the phrase, each noun must get another NP node, as shown in the figure below.

GSWE PWP example 2

Now that all of the forms are sorted, we just need to figure out the functions. One of the two nouns in “chicken soup” must be the head noun. Because the function of that NP is “Modif of ‘bowl,'” we know that the head noun’s function must also be to modify bowl.

The word “chicken” does not seem to modify bowl. “Chicken bowl” is not a common phrase. “Chicken,” however, can modify “soup.” “Chicken soup” is a phrase, as chicken describes the type of soup.

If chicken is not the head noun, that means it must be “soup.” This fits, as “soup bowl” is a common enough phrase. “Soup” describes what the bowl is used for. Its function must be “Modif of ‘bowl,'” as shown in the figure below.

GSWE PWP example 3


Congrats! We successfully diagrammed nouns modifying nouns. You can do this with other constructions. Just remember to break the nouns down by phrases with each phrase getting a new NP node until you are left with one word phrases.

English 362: Chapter 8: Kinds of Nouns

Heyo Pwips! Lets talk about the different kinds of nouns that exist:

Proper Nouns

These nouns are usually names. They can refer to a specific person, place, institution, etc.


Cheyenne, The Great Wall of China, The University of Wisconsin, Jack Sparrow, Lady Mary, Yellowstone National Park, Mr. Handsome, Dr. Seuss, Reepicheep


Mass and Count Nouns

There is a mass/count distinction that separates nouns that can be individually counted from nouns that come in masses of material.

Examples of Count Nouns:

Scissors, book, hobbit, light saber, top hat, Pwips, cars

Examples of Mass Nouns:

Sugar, air, happiness, patriotism, magic

Concrete vs Abstract Nouns

Concrete nouns are nouns that are tangible or perceptible. Abstract nouns usually refer to qualities, ideas, and activities.

Examples of Concrete:

puppies, rain, Sponge Bob Square Pants, hair, slime, butterfly, trash cans

Examples of Abstract:

Love, fear, flying, confessions, grammar, graduation


English 362: Chapter 8: Special Plurals

Heyo Pwips! Let’s talk about plurals!

Most nouns are made plural by simply adding -s to the end. However, there are some special English  nouns and nouns that come from Latin or Greek that we use. These nouns do not follow the pattern of simply adding -s. Lets take a look at the singular and the plural forms of these nouns.

Special English Plurals:

  • child=children
  • Woman=women
  • man=men

There are also special plurals for common animals

  • bull/cow=cattle
  • sheep=sheep
  • mouse=mice
  • deer=deer


Latin and Greek Plurals

Latin and Greek nouns sometimes form their plurals based on Latin and Greek rules. Here are examples of such plurals:

Words that end in –us usually make their plurals in –i

  • fungus=fungi
  • nucleus=nuclei
  • focus=foci
  • alumnus=alumni

Words that end in –a, have a plural –ae

  • alumna=alumnae
  • emerita=emeritae

Words that end in –um (Latin) or –on (Greek) form their plural in -a

  • erratum=errata
  • criterion=criteria
  • corrigendum=corrigenda

Exception: Often writers identify the -a plural of this type as the singular form. For example, criteria and phenomena are often used as singular nouns (the criteria/the phenomena is…) but not always. Agenda, however, has become a singular form. (see page 149)

Words that end in –is form the plural with –es.

  • crisis=crises
  • analysis=analyses