As you probably know, there are many different varieties of dragon, such as big, small, grumpy, happy, purple, green, and hungry. Similarly, nouns come in a few different shapes and sizes. “Nouns – A Spotter’s Guide” has been written to help you recognise and identify all the different species of noun you may encounter out in the wild.

What’s a Noun?

The traditional answer to this question is that a noun is a person, place, animal, or thing. So “dragon” is a noun, because a dragon is an animal (or so I’m told). A “pen” is a thing, making “pen” a noun too. “Emily” is a noun, because it’s the name of a person, and “Brisbane” is a noun, because it’s a place.

However, in addition to your plain old nouns, there are also pronouns, possessive pronouns, and proper nouns. Let me introduce them to you…

What’s a Pronoun?

A pronoun is a noun used to identify or refer to a person, animal or thing, but which isn’t their proper name. “I”, “me”, “you”, “us”, “we”, “he”, “she”, “him”, “her”, “them”, and “it” are all pronouns.

Examples: When I say “I am going to tame a dragon”, I am replacing my name – Emily – with the pronoun “I”. When I say “she is feeding her dragon”, I am replacing her name (whatever it may be) with the pronoun “she”.

What is a Possessive Pronoun?

A possessive pronoun is any pronoun that indicates ownership. “Mine”, “yours”, “ours”, “his”, “her”, “their” and “its” are all possessive pronouns.

Examples: Rather than saying “that dragon belongs to Sarah” or “that’s Sarah’s dragon”, I can say “that dragon is hers”. Similarly, if I am washing a green dragon that belongs to Ben and Sam, I could point at Ben and Sam and say “I am washing their green dragon”, rather than saying “I am washing the green dragon that belongs to Ben and Sam”.

What is a Proper Noun?

A proper noun is the specific name of a person or place. In English, proper nouns are always capitalised, which is a handy giveaway if you’re trying to identify them!

Examples: My name, “Emily”, is a proper noun. My dragon’s name (which would be “Fergus”, if I had a dragon) is also a proper noun. Brisbane, Sydney, Hobart, Timbuktu, Dragontopia – all are specific place names, and therefore proper nouns. However, “mountains”, which refers to mountains in general, rather than being the name of a specific location, is not a proper noun.

Now What?

Congratulations on finishing Noun 101. You can now go out into the world and identify different types of nouns, just like a dragon watcher, who identifies different types of dragons. Best of all, identifying nouns is a much safer pursuit than identifying dragons, with little to no risk of getting burnt. So go forth, and identify nouns!

Over to You

Now that you know about nouns, is there anything else of a grammatical nature you would like me to write about in a future post? Comment to let me know!

What would you call your pet dragon, if you had one? Is Fergus a lame name for a dragon?

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