Thinking Box

Fundamentals of English Grammar - Chapter 6: Nouns and Pronouns

6-1 Plural Forms of Nouns

Singular -> Plural

  • (a) one bird -> two birds
    one street -> two streets
    one rose -> two roses

    To make most nouns plural, add -s.

  • (b) one dish -> two dishes
    one match -> two matches
    one class -> two classes
    one box -> two boxes

    Add -es to nouns ending in -sh, -ch, -ss, and -x.

  • (c) one baby -> two babies
    one city -> two cities

    (d) one toy -> two toys
    one key -> two keys

    If a noun ends in consonant + -y, change the y to i and add -es, as in (c).

    if -y is preceded by a vowel, add only -s, as in (d).

  • (e) one knife -> two knives
    one shelf -> two shelves

    If a noun ends in -fe or -f, change the ending to -ves.
    EXCEPTIONS: beliefs, chiefs, roofs, cuffs, cliffs.

  • (f) one tomato -> two tomatoes
    one zoo -> two zoos
    one zero -> two zeroes/zeros

    The plural form of nouns that end in -o is sometimes -oes and sometimes -os.
    -oes: tomatoes, potatoes, heroes, echoes
    -os: zoos, radios, studios, pianos, solos, sopranos, photos, autos, videos
    -oes or -os: zeroes/zeros, volcanoes/volcanos, tornadoes/tornados, mosquitoes/mosquitos

  • (g) one child -> two children
    one foot -> two feet
    one goose -> two geese
    one man -> two men
    one mouse -> two mice
    one tooth -> two teeth
    one woman -> two women
    -------------- -> two people

    Some nouns have irregular plural forms.
    NOTE: The singular form of people can be person, woman, man, child. For example, one man and one child = two people.
    (Two persons is also possible.)

  • (h) one deer -> two deer
    one fish -> fish
    one sheep -> two sheep

    The plural form of some nouns is the same as the singular form.

  • (i) one bacterium -> two bacteria
    one crisis -> two crises

    Some nouns that English has borrowed from other languages have foreign plurals.

6-2 Pronunciation of Final -s/-es

Final -s/-es has three different pronunciations: /s/, /z/, and /ǝz/.

  • (a) seats = seat/s/
    maps = map/s/
    lakes = lake/s/

    Final -s is pronounced /s/ after voiceless sounds. In (a): /s/ is the sound of "s" in "bus".

    Examples of voiceless sounds: /t/, /p/, /k/.

  • (b) seeds = seed/z/
    starts = start/z/
    holes = hole/z/
    laws = law/z/

    Final -s is pronounced /z/ after voiced sounds. In (b): /z/ is the sound of "z" in "buzz".

    Examples of voiced sounds: /d/, /r/, /l/, /m/, /b/, and all vowel sounds.

  • dishes = dish/ǝz/
    matches = match/ǝz/
    classes = class/ǝz/
    sizes = size/ǝz/
    pages = page/ǝz/
    judges = judge/ǝz/

    Final -s/-es is pronounced /ǝz/ after -sh, -ch, -s, -z, ge/-dge sounds.
    In(c): /ǝz/ adds a syllable to a word.

6-3 Subjects, Verbs, and Objects

  • (a) The sun(S/noun) shines(V/verb).
    (b) Plants(S/n) grow(V/v).

    An English sentence has a SUBJECT (s) and a VERB (v).
    The SUBJECT is a noun. In (a): sun is a noun; it is the subject of the verb shines.

  • (c) Plants(S/n) need(V/v) water(O/n).
    (d) Bob(S/n) is reading(V/v) a book(O/n).

    Sometimes a VERB is followed by an OBJECT (O).

    The OBJECT of a verb is a noun. In (c): water is the object of the verb need.

6-4 Objects of Prepositions

  • (a) Ann put her books on the desk.
    (b) A leaf fell to the ground.

    Many English sentences have prepositional phrases.
    In (a): on the desk is a prepositional phrase.

    A prepositional phrase consists of a PREPOSITION (PREP) and an OBJECT OF A PREPOSITION (o of PREP). The object of a preposition is a NOUN.

  • Reference List of Prepositions

    about / before / despite / of / to
    above / behind / down / off / toward(s)
    across / below / during / on / under
    after / beneath / for / out / until
    against / beside / from / over / up
    along / besides / in / since / upon
    among / between / into / through / with
    around / beyond / like / throughout / within
    at / by / near / till / without

6-5 Prepositions of Time


  • (a) Please be on time in the future.
    (b) I usually watch TV in the evening.
    (c) I was born in October.
    (d) I was born in 1995.
    (e) I was born in the 20th century.
    (f) The weather is hot in (the) summer.

    in + the past, the present, the future
    in + the morning, the afternoon, the evening
    in + a month / a year / a century / a season


  • (g) I was born on October 31st, 1995.
    (h) I went to a movie on Thursday.
    (i) I have class on Thursday morning(s).

    on + a date
    on + a weekday
    on + (a) weekday morning(s), afternoon(s), evening(s)


  • (j) We sleep at night. I was asleep at midnight.
    (k) I fell asleep at 9:30 (nine-thirty).
    (l) He's busy at the moment. Can I take a message?

    at + noon, night, midnight
    at + "clock time"
    at + the moment, the present time, present

6-6 Word Order: Place and Time

  • (a) Ann(S) moved(V) to Paris(PLACE) in 2008(TIME).
    We(S) went(V) to a movie(PLACE) yesterday(TIME).

    (b) We(S) bought(V) a house(O) in Miami(P) in 2005(T).

    In a typical English sentence, "place" comes before "time", as in (a).

    INCORRECT: Ann moved in 2008 to Paris.

  • (c) In 2008(TIME), Ann(S) moved(V) to Paris(P).
    (d) Yesterday(Time) we(S) went(V) to a movie(P).

    Expressions of time can also come at the beginning of a sentence, as in (c) and (d).
    A time phrase at the beginning of a sentence is often followed by a comma, as in (c).

6-7 Subject-Verb Agreement

  • (a) The sun shines.
    (b) Birds sing.

    A singular subject takes a singular verb, as in (a).
    A plural subject takes a plural verb, as in (b).
    Notice: verb + -s = singular (shines)
    noun + -s = plural (birds)

  • (c) My brother lives in Jakarta.
    (d) My brother and sister live in Jakarta.

    Two subjects connected by and take a plural verb, as in (d).

  • (e) The glasses over there under the window by the sink are clean.
    (f) The information in those magazines about Vietnamese culture and customs is very interesting.

    Sometimes phrases come between a subject and a verb. These phrases do not affect the agreement of the subject and verb.

  • (g) There is a book on the desk.
    (h) There are some books on the desk.

    There + be + subject expresses that something exists in a particular place. The verb agrees with the noun that follows be.

  • (i) Every student is sitting down.
    (j) Everybody/Everyone hopes for peace.

    Every is a singular word. It is used with a singular, not plural, noun.
    INCORRECT: Every students ...

    Subjects with every take singular verbs, as in (i) and (j).

  • (k) People in my country are friendly.

    People is a plural noun and takes a plural verb.

6-8 Using Adjectives to Describe Nouns

  • (a) Bob is reading a good book.

    Words that describe nouns are called ADJECTIVES.
    In (a): good is an adjective; it describes the book.

  • (b) The tall woman wore a new dress.
    (c) The short woman wore an old dress.
    (d) The young woman wore a short dress.

    We say that adjectives "modify" nouns. Modify means "change a little." An adjective changes the meaning of a noun by giving more information about it.

  • (e) Roses are beautiful flowers.
    INCORRECT: Rose are beautifuls flowers.

    Adjectives are neither singular nor plural. They do NOT have a plural form.

  • (f) He wore a white shirt.
    INCORRECT: He wore a shirt white.
    (g) Roses are beautiful.
    (h) His shirt was white.

    Adjectives usually come immediately before nouns, as in (f).
    Adjectives can also follow main verb be, as in (g) and (h).

6-9 Using Nouns as Adjectives

(a) I have a flower garden.
(b) The shoe store also sells socks.

(c) INCORRECT: a flowers garden
(d) INCORRECT: the shoes store

Sometimes words that are usually used as noun are used as adjectives. For example, flower is usually a noun, but in (a), it's used as an adjective to modify garden.

When a noun is used as an adjective, it is singular in form, NOT plural.

6-10 Personal Pronouns: Subject and Object

  • Personal Pronouns
    SUBJECT PRONOUNS: I / we / you / he, she, it / they
    OBJECT PRONOUNS: me / us / you / him, her, it / them

  • (a) Kate is married. She has two children.
    (b) Kate is my friend. I know her well.
    (c) Mike has a new blue bike. He bought it yesterday.

    A pronoun refers to a noun.
    In (a): she is a pronoun; it refers to Kate.
    In (b): her is a pronoun; it refers to Kate.

    In (a): She is a SUBJECT PRONOUN.
    In (b): her is a OBJECT PRONOUN.

    A pronoun can refer to a single noun (e.g., Kate) or to a noun phrase.
    In (c): it refers to the whole noun phrase a new blue bike.

  • (d) Eric and I are good friends.
    (e) Ann met Eric and me at the museum.
    (f) Ann walked between Eric and me.

    Guidelines for using pronouns following and:
    If the pronoun is used as part of the subject, use a subject pronoun, as in (d).
    If the pronoun is part of the object, use an object pronoun, as in (e) and (f).

    INCORRECT: Eric and me are good friends.
    INCORRECT: Ann met Eric and I at the museum.

  • SINGULAR PRONOUNS: I / me / you / he, she, it / him, her
    PLURAL PRONOUNS: we / us / you / they / them

  • (g) Mike is in class. He is taking a test.
    (h) The students are in class. They are taking a test.
    (i) Kate and Tom are married. They have two children.

    Singular = one. Plural = more than one.

    Singular pronouns refer to singular nouns; plural pronouns refer to plural nouns, as in the examples.

6-11 Possessive Nouns

  • SINGULAR: (a) I know the student's name.
    PLURAL: (b) I know the students's names.
    PLURAL: (c) I know the children's names.

    An apostrophe (') and an -s are used with nouns to show possession.


  • (d) the student -> the student's name
    my baby -> my baby's name
    a man -> a man's name
    (e) James -> James'/James's name

    noun + apostrophe (') + -s

    A singular noun that ends in -s has two possible
    Possessive forms: James' OR James's.


  • (f) the students -> the students' names
    my babies -> my babies' names
    (g) men -> men's names
    the children -> the children's names

    noun + -s + apostrophe(')

    noun + apostrophe(') + -s
    (An irregular plural noun is a plural noun that does not end in -s: children, men, people, women.)

  • Compare:
    (h) Tom's here.
    (i) Tom's brother is here.

    In (h): Tom's is not a possessive noun. It is a contraction of Tom is, used in informal writing.
    In (i): Tom's is a possessive noun.

6-12 Possessive Pronouns and Adjectives

  • This pen belongs to me.
    (a) It's mine.
    (b) It is my pen.

    Examples (a) and (b) have the same meaning; they both show possession.
    Mine is a possessive pronoun; my is a possessive adjective.


  • (c) I have mine. -> I have my pen.
    (d) You have yours. -> You have your pen.
    (e) She has hers. -> She has her pen.
    (f) He has his. -> He has his pen.
    (g) We have ours. -> We have our pens.
    (h) You have yours. -> You have your pen.
    (i) They have theirs. -> They have their pens.
    (j) -> I have a book. Its cover is black.

    A POSSESSIVE PRONOUN is used alone, without a noun following it.

    A POSSESSIVE ADJECTIVE is used only with a noun following it.

    INCORRECT: I have mine pen.
    INCORRECT: I have my.

  • COMPARE its vs. it's:
    (k) Sue gave me a book. I don't remember its title.
    (l) Sue gave me a book. It's a novel.

    In (k): its (NO apostrophe) is a possessive adjective modifying the noun title.
    In (l): it's (with an apostrophe) is a contraction of it + is.

  • COMPARE their vs. there vs. they're:
    (m) The students have their books.
    (n) My books are over there.
    (o) Where are the students? They're in class.

    Their, there, and they're have the same pronunciation, but not the same meaning.
    their = possessive adjective, as in (m)
    there = an expression of place, as in (n)
    they're = they are, as in (o)

6-13 Reflexive Pronouns

  • myself (a) I saw myself in the mirror.
    yourself (b) You (one person) saw yourself.
    herself (c) She saw herself.
    himself (d) He saw himself.
    itself (e) It (e.g., the kitten) saw itself.
    ourselves (f) We saw ourselves.
    yourselves (g) You (plural) saw yourselves.
    themselves (h) They saw themselves.

    Reflexive pronouns end in -self/-selves. They are used when the subject (e.g., I) and the object (e.g., myself) are the same person.

    INCORRECT: I saw me in the mirror.

  • (i) Greg lives by himself.
    (j) I sat by myself on the park bench.

    By + a reflexive pronoun = alone
    In (i): Greg lives alone, without family or roommates.

  • (k) I enjoyed myself at the fair.

    Enjoy and a few other verbs are commonly followed by a reflexive pronoun. See the list below.

  • Common Expressions with Reflexive Pronouns
    believe in yourself / help yourself / pinch yourself / tell yourself
    blame yourself / hurt yourself / be proud of yourself / work for yourself
    cut yourself / give yourself (something) / take care of yourself / wish yourself (luck)
    enjoy yourself / introduce yourself / take to yourself
    feel sorry for yourself / kill yourself / teach yourself

6-14 Singular Forms of Other: Another vs. The Other



  • (a) There is a large bowl of apples on the table. Paul is going to eat one apple. If he is still hungry after that, he can eat another apple. There are many apples to choose from.

    Another means "one more out of a group of similar items, one in addition to the one(s) already mentioned."

    Another is a combination of an + other, written as one word.

The other


  • (b) There are two apples on the table. Paul is going to eat one of them. Sara is going to eat the other apple.

    The other means "the last one in a specific group; the only one that remains from a given number of similar items."

  • (c) Paul ate one apple. Then he ate another apple. / another one. / another.
    (d) Paul ate one apple. Sara ate the other apple. / the other one. / the other.

    Another and the other can be used as adjectives in front of a noun (e.g., apple) or in front of the word one.

    Another and the other can also be used alone as pronouns.

6-15 Plural Forms of Other: Other(s) vs. The Other(s)



  • There are many apples in Paul's kitchen. Paul is holding one apple.
    (a) There are other apples in a bowl.
    (b) There are other ones on a plate.
    (c) There are other on a chair

    Other(s) (without the) means "several more out of a group of similar items, several in addition to the one(s) already mentioned."

    The adjective other (without an -s) can be used with a plural noun (e.g., apples) or with the word ones.

    Others (with an -s) is a plural pronoun; it is not used with a noun.
    In (c): Others = other apples

The Other(s)


  • There are four apples on the table. Paul is going to take one of them.
    (d) Sara is going to take the other apples.
    (e) Sara is going to take the other ones.
    (f) Sara is going to take the others.

    The other(s) means "the last ones in a specific group, the remains from a given number of similar items."

    The other (without an -s) can be used as an adjective in front of a noun or the word ones, as in (d) and (e).

    The others (with an -s) is a plural pronoun; it is not used with a noun.
    In (f): the others = the other apples

6-16 Summary of Forms of Other

Adjective -> Pronoun

SINGULAR: another apple -> another
PLURAL: other apples -> others

SINGULAR: the other apple -> the other
PLURAL: the other apples -> the others

Notice that the word others (other + final -s) is used only as a plural pronoun.