The Suffix -s and Nouns
1. Here are some of the words from the last lesson:
They are all a kind of word called nouns. One way to describe a noun is to say that it is the name of a person, place, or thing.
Another way to describe a noun is to say that it makes sense when we put it into the blank of this sentence: “The_________ seemed okay.” Any word that makes sense in that blank is a noun. For instance, “The chair seemed okay.”
2. Try each of the six other words in the blanks below:
The song seemed okay.
The plate seemed okay.
The side, seemed okay.
The show seemed okay.
The mother seemed okay.
The uncle seemed okay.
Are all six words nouns? Yes
3. If we add the suffix -s to the noun chair, we still have a noun:
The chairs seemed okay.
Add the suffix -s to the other six nouns and try them in the blanks:
The songs seemed okay.
The plates seemed okay.
The sides seemed okay
The shows seemed okay.
The mothers seemed okay.
The uncles seemed okay.
After you add the suffix -s to a noun, is it still a noun? Yes
4. We use nouns to point to, or refer to, one or more persons, places, or things. Readthese words:
Would you use them to refer to, or point to, only one of what they name or to more than one? Only one
5. After you add the suffix -s to them, would you use them to refer to one or to more than one? More than one
6. Usually when you use a noun to refer to more than one of something, you add the suffix -s.
7. A noun that is used to refer to only one of what it names is called a singular noun.
Nouns that are used to refer to more than one of what they name are clled plural nouns.
A singular noun is called singular because it is used to refer to a single thing.
Plural nouns are used to refer to more than one thing. The word plural is related to theword plus, which has the meaning “more.”
8. A noun that is used to refer to just one thing is called a singular noun .
9. Nouns that are used to refer to more than one thing are called plural nouns .
10. Usually when you want to change a singular noun to a plural noun, you add the suffix -s.
Item 1. Some students have problems with the person-place-or-thing definition of noun. Practice with the cloze sentence can help such students develop enough of an ear for nouns that the person-place-or-thing definition will begin to work for them. Later theywill also be able to say that if a word adds -s or -es to show that there are more thanone, it is a noun. That formal definition won’t catch all nouns —goose, for instance, and deer— but it can help by screening out non-nouns. Offering different perspectives onthe noun concept in this way can help students develop that important noun sense.
Item 2. Some of these sentences may seem a bit odd. Usually this sense of oddness is due to its being hard to imagine a setting in which one might say such a thing. It canhelp to have the students try to come up with settings in which it would be natural to say the given sentence. For instance, if a student says that “The side seemed okay” seemsodd, you could suggest, or have the class try to suggest, settings—perhaps something like this: “The top of the desk was scratched but the side seemed okay.” This sort ofsetting-finding can have a gamelike quality to it.
One of the things that makes work with English parts of speech tricky for students is aprocess called conversion. A noun cabe converted to be used as some other part of speech. For instance, the Old English word that became our word side was originally a noun, but over the centuries it was converted to an adjective (as in “a side street”) and to a verb (as in “She will side with her best friend”). Just about every noun in English has undergone conversion of this kind. Conversion makes our vocabulary much richer and more versatile, but it also makes defining the parts of speech a bit of a trial at times.The best we can do is tell our students that most words can function as more than one part of speech; it all depends on the setting.
Item 4. I find it useful to make a distinction here: Nouns name things; we use nouns torefer, or point, to things. Nouns don’t refer; we do.