Monday, October 26, 2009

Editorial Tip of the Week: Know Nouns Now (Halloween Edition)

Ah, the noun. One of the most essential parts of the English language. So important, in fact, that the Orange Word Wonder dedicates nearly seven pages to an exploration of its definition and use. Because, of course, Chicago reminds us that it is the noun that allows us to name things. It is because of nouns that we can differentiate between the guy dressed up as a superhero and the one in the corner dressed as Scooby Doo.

More importantly, how else could I develop so many pet names for my peachy punctuation guide? It's true. Without nouns, we'd be lost. So let's use 'em properly and learn those properties, eh?

The Tangerine Taskmaster tells us "nouns have four properties: case, gender, number, and person."

Case includes nominative, objective, and possessive: the ghost is over there (nominative), see the black cat (objective), the witch's brew is ready (possessive). The noun only changes when using the possessive.

Gender "classifies nouns into masculine, feminine, and neuter." In English, the entire noun often changes to denote "male or female humans or animals."

Jenny and Freddy went as a witch and a warlock, but Elizabeth and Don won the costume contest with their duo the mare and the stallion.

However, compound nouns also "contain specifically masculine or feminine nouns or pronouns."

"The headless horseman is after my girlfriend!" he exclaimed.

Other common usages are nouns used "in personification" or with "feminine suffix such as ess or ix." (Buyer beware: Chicago notes that these suffixes are quickly becoming "archaic.")

Finally, number indicates whether the noun is singular or plural (It takes less time to carve a pumpkin, but a lot of pumpkins are much more festive!).

Person "shows whether an object is speaking (we the ghosts will haunt forever), spoken to (ghosts, begone!), or spoken about (the ghosts were hauled out of the haunted house and revealed as fakes).


Just kidding, the ghost weren't real. Pay attention!

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