Noun: Definition and Uses

What are nouns?

Nouns are names of people, places, animals, things, activities, emotions and everything you can name in this world.

Here are some examples.

  • names of people – John, police officer, taxi driver, teacher
  • names of things – computer, glass, window, door, pen, pencil
  • names of abstract things/emotions – love, care, trust, faith, hope
  • names of places – house, library, school, church, London

Uses of Nouns

There are basically 7 different ways on how you can use nouns.

1. Subject

The subject of the sentence is the person, place, thing or activity that is being talked about in the sentence. It is the main topic of the sentence.

  • Anna is a teacher. 
  • The book is interesting.
  • The game was very exciting.
  • An apple a day keeps the doctor away.

2. Predicate Noun

A predicate noun is a word (or group of words) that replaces, identifies or explains the subject of the sentence. It often comes after a linking verb or a be-verb.

  • Josh is a teacher.
  • J.K. Rowling is my favorite author.
  • He is a kindhearted man.
  • We are friends.
  • Stacey is the wife of my brother.

3. Appositive

An appositive is a word (or group of words) that comes after another word to identify, rename, explain or say something about it. It is placed in between commas. Even if you remove the appositive from the sentence, the meaning of the sentence will not change. They are used for emphasis or for added details.

  • The little boy, Anna’s brother, is wearing a cap.
  • Our teacher, Ms. Santos, was absent today.
  • Dennis, the tallest guy in the team, is the captain.
  • Lori, an excellent writer, recently published a book.

4. Direct Object

The direct object is a word (or group of words) that receives the action of the (transitive) verb. It answers the questions who and what.

  • Subject + Verb + Direct Object (what? who?)
  • She received a letter from my mom. (What did she receive? A letter.)
  • I called Josh last night.
  • Anna ate an apple this morning.

5. Indirect Object 

An indirect object is a word (or group of words) that indirectly receives the action of the verb. It answers the questions for whom and to whom. It is someone or something that receives the direct object.

  • Subject + Verb + Indirect Object (for whom? to whom?) + Direct Object (what?)
  • She gave my mom a letter. (to whom)
  • I bought Anna a bicycle. (for whom)
  • The teacher gave the students their test results.
  • I wrote my client a check.

6. Object of the Preposition

A preposition is a word that links or associates nouns or pronouns to the rest of the sentence. It usually shows location, time or movement. Examples of prepositions are in, on, under and over. Normally, prepositions are followed by nouns of pronouns. The combination of the two makes a prepositional phrase. The noun in a prepositional phrase is the object of the preposition.

  • Preposition + Object of the Preposition = Prepositional Phrase
  • I am in the house.
  • The book is on the table.
  • She went to the beach during her vacation.
  • She goes to school every morning.

7. Object (Objective) Complement

An object complement follows a direct object to modify or explain the direct object and complete the thought of the sentence.

  • They elected Anna president. (“They elected Anna” is a complete sentence but the thought is a bit lacking. They elected her as what? They elected her as president.) 
  • The minister announced Josh and Anna man and wife.
  • The man named his dog Hachiko.


To give you a better illustration of the uses of nouns, refer to the sentences below.

  • The cookies are delicious. (subject)
  • That cookie is a gingerbread. (predicate noun)
  • My mom baked the cookies. (direct object)
  • My mom baked Jenny some cookies. (indirect object)
  • My mom put the cookies in the cookie jar. (object of the preposition)
  • I bought gingerbread, a soft-dough cookie, from the bakery. (appositive)
  • The baker named the cookies gingerbread. (object complement)

Nouns can be used in different ways. Knowing the different uses will help you construct more coherent sentences.