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What Is a Singular Noun?

By Lee Johnson
Updated May 23, 2024
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A singular noun is a naming word which refers to only one thing. For example, the word "cow" only refers to one single cow, not multiple cows. Forming a noun's plural form is usually done by adding the letter "s" to the end of the singular noun, but the rules are different depending on the specific word. Singular nouns are used in sentences to refer to the subject and object of particular sentence, such as "the glass is on the table," which makes use of the nouns "glass" and "table." Verbs and adjectives are two examples of other types of words that can be used alongside a singular noun in a sentence.

Nouns are basically naming words, and they can name people, things, places, and even abstract concepts such as love or fear. The word “noun” comes from the Latin nomen, which is the Latin for the word “name.” Different types of nouns can be referred to in different ways, for example, a proper noun is the name of a person, and an abstract noun is the name of an abstract concept. In most parts of the English language, the words that should be used depend on whether the thing referred to is singular or plural, meaning just one thing or many things. Singular nouns and plural nouns exist for all things that can be referred to, although they are sometimes the same word.

During the process of learning a language, it is common for students to learn the singular noun for a particular thing before learning the plural. Words such as “egg,” “book,” and “house” are all singular nouns, and therefore only refer to one of the item in question. If a person asks for an egg, his or her use of the singular noun implies that he or she only wants one egg, not two or more. The plural forms of nouns are generally combined with a number in order to aid clarity. For example, somebody might request “two eggs,” instead of just “eggs,” which could refer to any number other than one.

Singular nouns can fill the role of the subject and the object of a sentence. Basic sentence structure goes "subject-verb-object," or for example, "The cat attacked the mouse." Both the subject "cat" and the object "mouse" are examples of singular nouns, and they are preceded by "the," known as the "definite article," which shows that one specific cat and mouse are being referred to. The verb "attacked" comes next to the singular noun to show what the subject, the cat, did to the object, the mouse. An adjective can be used next to a singular noun to describe it, such as "nimble" being added to form "the nimble cat attacked the mouse."

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