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Nine Noun Functions

A NOUN is a part of speech. It can

FUNCTION in 9 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.
Its not fair! shouted John.
Note that occasionally, as in d, the subject can follow the verb.
Sometimes the subject receives the action. Thats whats 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 doesnt understand anything about what he just
read. (Understand what? Anything is a pronoun.)
While hiking, Alicia found a silver bracelet.


in this excerpt from Harry Potter & the
Chamber of Secrets.

October arrived [and spread] a damp chill over the grounds and into the castle.
Madam Pomfrey, the nurse, was kept busy by a sudden spate of colds among the
staff and students. Her Pepperup potion worked instantly, though it left the drinker
smoking at the ears for several hours afterward. Ginny Weasley, who had been
looking pale, was bullied into taking some by Percy. The steam pouring from under
her vivid hair gave the impression that her whole head was on fire.
Raindrops the size of bullets thundered on the castle windows for days on end; the
lake rose, the flower beds turned into muddy streams, and Hagrid's pumpkins
swelled to the size of garden sheds. Oliver Wood's enthusiasm for regular training
sessions, however, was not dampened, which was why Harry was to be found, late
one stormy Saturday afternoon a few days before Halloween, returning to Gryffindor
Tower, drenched to the skin and splattered with mud.
Even aside from the rain and wind it hadn't been a happy practice session. Fred and
George, who had been spying on the Slytherin team, had seen for themselves the
speed of those new Nimbus Two Thousand and Ones. They reported that the
Slytherin team was no more than seven greenish blurs, shooting through the air like

3. Indirect Object
The indirect object follows the verb &
answers to/for whom. (It can also be
to/for what, but its 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, withto 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
Grandmothers house we go.

6. Appositive
An appositive follows a noun & renames it.
a. My sister Rita lives in Virginia.
b. The book Im 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 couldnt
say, He saw my sister to be Rita yesterday.

8. Retained Object
A retained object follows a passive voice
verb (to beis/are/was/were/be-- +
past participle)
a. He was fed spinach. (Was fed what?)
b. They were given a new kitten. (Were
given what?)
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 havent finished the list.
c. Professor Gellar, I need to turn in my
paper late.

Traditionally, the following two usages arent considered

functions of a noun because they are adjectives. But
they are nouns that function as adjectives. If you study
a foreign language, its helpful to know when its a
noun were using as an adjective in English, because
chances are a noun cant be used as an adjective in
the language youre studying.

I need a paint bucket.

Give him that water glass.

We also make nouns possessive so that they can function

as adjectives:

I met your mothers friend.

We saw the clowns face.

Go here for the assignment.

Extra practice
ns2.htm (In this one, subjective complement is
the term used for a predicate nominative.)