This lesson covers the fundamentals and types of nouns, knowledge of which will help you in B-school entrance exams like the NMAT, SNAP and IIFT.

So, let’s get started!

Noun: A noun is a word that is used to name a person, animal, place, thing, or an abstract idea. Nouns tell you about the ‘what’s’ ‘who’s’ and ‘where’s’ of a sentence. Let’s see an example: TG and Dagny went to Maxims to order a chocolate truffle cake.

TG and Dagny are persons, Maxims is a place and chocolate truffle cake is a thing.

Nouns can be broadly classified into

  • Common nouns
  • Proper nouns
  • Concrete Nouns
  • Abstract Nouns
  • Countable Nouns
  • Non-Countable Nouns
  • Collective Nouns


  • Common Noun: A common noun is a noun that refers to a person, place or thing, in a general sense. Usually, you write a common noun with a capital letter only when a common noun begins a sentence.Go to the garden. (place)Pass me my phone. (thing)Call the police. (people)Milk the cow. (animal)
  • Proper Noun: A proper noun represents the name of a specific person, place or thing. The names of the days of the week, months, historical documents, institutions, organizations, religions, their holy texts and their adherents are all proper nouns. A proper noun begins with a capital letter irrespective of its placement in a sentence.Check out the following table to understand the difference between the two forms of nouns.



I donated most of my old clothes and headed to Benetton to buy some new ones.

clothes= common noun; Benetton= proper noun


Concrete Noun:

A concrete noun refers to a group of nouns that name anything or anyone that you can perceive through your five senses: touch, sight, taste, hearing, or smell.

Types of Noun

Example: Samantha enjoyed drinking her banana shake.

Here banana shake is a concrete noun. You can see, taste (yum!), smell, and touch the shake. Any noun that you can perceive with at least one of your five senses is a concrete noun.


Abstract Noun:

An abstract noun is a group of nouns that you cannot perceive through your five senses. It is the opposite of concrete noun.

Abstract Noun

Rohan got a bravery award this year for saving a small child from drowning.

Some examples of abstract nouns are : Love, hatred, loneliness, sadness, happiness, anger, ire, wrath, fun, education, courage, bravery, ability, talent, optimism, pessimism, luck, fortune, religion, valor, opportunity, faith, hope, contempt, duplicity, need, want, necessity, desire, wantonness, greed, lust, sympathy, affection, ardor, fondness, attachment, intimacy, worship, passion, emotion, joy, desperation, depression, disconsolation, regard, charity, goodwill, kindness, benevolence.


Countable Nouns: A countable noun represents the names of separate ideas, objects, people etc. that can be counted. You can use numbers or a/an before the countable nouns.

Rohan gave two chocolates to Sohan.

I saw three cats on the roof.


Uncountable Nouns:  A non-countable noun (or mass noun) represents people, places, things or ideas that cannot be counted. Non-countable nouns take singular verbs in a sentence and you cannot add a/an in the front or -s at the end of a non-countable noun.

Pass me a glass of water, please. (NOT a water or two waters)

We are planning to buy new furniture for our office. (NOT one furniture or a furniture)

Uncountable Nouns

There are some nouns that are usually uncountable in the English language, but are countable in other languages. These are examples:

accommodation, advice, applause, assistance, bread, baggage, camping, cash, chaos, chess, cloth, clothing, conduct, courage, cutlery, dancing, dirt, employment, equipment, evidence, fun, furniture, harm, health, homework, housing, information, leisure, litter, luck, luggage, machinery, money, mud, music, news, nonsense, parking, pay, permission, photography, poetry, pollution, produce, progress, publicity, research, rubbish, safety, scenery, shopping, sightseeing, smoke, software, sunshine, transport, violence, wine, weather, work.

Baggage, a non-countable noun, cannot have s/es in the end. You can, however, count the number of suitcases or bags you are carrying with yourself.

Often, we can make uncountable words countable by adding a prepositional phrase in front of it.

uncountable words

Sometimes the same word may have a slightly different meaning depending on whether it is used as a countable or non-countable noun.


I am going to buy some packing paper. (non-countable)

Where have you kept today’s paper? (a newspaper/ countable)

When you are happy, time flies by so quickly.  (non-countable)

I have reminded Anna at least three times to return my book. (countable)


Random stuff about countable and non-countable nouns.

  • News, groceries, customs, and thanks are uncountable nouns. They are not plural. E.g. This news is very important. I have bought the groceries (NOT a grocery)
  • Travel means ‘travelling in general’. You cannot say ‘ a travel ‘ to mean a journey or a trip. E.g. Have a happy journey. (NOT a happy travel)
  •  “on your travels’’, “in all weathers” are fixed expressions and are used in plural form. E.g. Did you meet anyone exciting on your travels? Dad goes to office in all weathers.
  • Hair is normally uncountable in English language. E.g. Her hair is black. But one strand of hair is a hair (countable). E.g. There are two hairs in your soup.
  • Tea, coffee, juice etc. (drinks) are normally uncountable. E.g. Coffee is my favourite drink. But drinks can be countable when you are thinking of a cup/ a glass etc. E.g. I would like to order two coffees. An apple juice, please.

Collective Noun: A collective noun refers to a group of things, animals, or persons. You can count the individual members in the group, but, usually a group considered as a whole is considered as one unit. Collective nouns can be used in both the singular form and the plural form. They are similar to a non-countable noun, and are roughly the opposite of a countable noun. Check out the chart below:

Collective Noun

People, things or animals can behave both as separate entities and collectively as a group; so the nouns can be either singular or plural, depending on the context.

How would you identify what verbs or pronouns would be used with collective nouns?

Case 1: Imagine a herd of buffaloes grazing in a grassland. What would happen when a lion races out of the bushes to attack the buffaloes? They would all run in one direction as one unit to save their lives. So when we talk of the collective noun as one unit, the noun becomes a singular entity and takes a singular verb and pronoun.

Collective Noun
Buffalo herd, Umfolozi Game Reserve, KZN, South Africa


The herd of buffaloes spends most of its time grazing the grass. (herd= singular; spends= singular; its=singular)

After an hour, the jury gave its verdict. (jury=singular; its = singular; all the members of the jury together acted as a single entity and gave a unanimous decision)

Case 2: Let’s imagine that the members of the jury have to come to a single conclusion but there were differences in opinions among the members of the jury. All of them had a different say. A jury is a group of people but all of them have a different opinion. They are not able to act as ONE. We can say:

Collective Noun

The jury were divided in their opinion.

After a long break, the faculty start their new research projects.

So when the members in a group are acting as an individual, the collective noun is plural and requires a plural verb.

Noun- Gender: The English language is pretty easy on categorizing people as ‘he’ or ‘she’ and things as ‘it’. Let’s take a look at these quick and easy points to remember.

  •  When you talk about animals, use ‘who’ instead of ‘which’. E.g. Sam had a parrot who used to speak.
  •  When you don’t know the sex of the person, use he/him/his. E.g. If he finds the person who created all the mischief, he is going to kill him. If you find the usage of he/him/his sexist, you can avoid that as well. Use he or she, him or her and his or her instead.  E.g. If he finds the person who created all the mischief, he is going to kill him or her.
  •  The noun that determines either the name of a male or a female is called a Common gender. E.g.  baby, child, cousin, enemy, friend, infant, monarch, neighbour, orphan, parent, pupil, person, relation servant, student, thief.
  •  Collective nouns, even if they refer to living-beings, are used as neuter-nouns. E.g. The team is going to play its game.
  •  Objects noted for their power, strength, and violence are used as Masculine gender nouns- The Sun, Summer, Winter, Time, Death e.g. Time is like the wind, he lifts the light and leaves the heavy.
  •  Objects noted for their beauty, gentleness and grace are used as Feminine gender nouns- the Moon, the Earth, Spring, Autumn, Nature, Liberty. E.g. Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.

Noun- Gender

There are three ways of forming a Feminine noun from the Masculine noun

  1. By adding a syllable (-ess, ine, trix, -a, etc.). E.g. host-hostess, poet- poetess, viscount-viscountess, conductor-conductress, tiger-tigress, hero-heroine, testator-testatrix, etc.
  2. By placing a word before or after. E.g. salesman-saleswoman, manservant-maidservant, landlord-landlady etc.
  3. By using an entirely different word. See the following chart.

Noun- Gender

Possessive Nouns

In a possessive case, a noun or pronoun changes its structure to talk about possessions, relationships, physical characteristics, especially when the first noun refers to the person, animal, country, organization or another group of creatures. Usually, nouns become possessive by adding a combination of an apostrophe and the letter “s”.

Examples:* Sam’s mother is a florist. (NOT the mother of Sam)

Rohan’s bike is new.

The company’s success depends on management’s values.

Following are the general structures that are followed to show possession.

Noun- Gender

Optional: If the noun is singular and ends with an s, add ‘s or add only the apostrophe (‘).

The bus’s tires went flat.

The bus’ tires went flat.

Dickens’ novels are read by young and old alike.

Dickens’s novels are read by young and old alike

Let’s see how an apostrophe’s placement can alter the meanings of the sentences:

Tom’s and Harry’s new books are available in the market.

This means that Tom and Harry wrote separate books and now the books are available in the market.

Tom and Harry’s new books are available in the market.

This means Tom and Harry together authored new books and now the books are available in the market.


Jack and Jill’s children are playing in the park.

This means that Jack and Jill are parents of the children.

Jack’s and Jill’s children are playing in the park.

This means that Jack’s children and Jill’s children are playing in the park.

Two separate lot of children playing in the park.

Possessive without a noun

*If the meaning is clear we can use the possessive without the following noun.

Whose book is this? It’s Rohan’s.

This is not my dress. It’s my sister’s.

*You can use ‘s with time expressions (yesterday/ next week/today/tomorrow/ Sunday/ Monday etc.)

Yesterday’s party got canceled.

Are you attending Monday’s conference?

He has got two weeks’ leave.

Noun + Noun Structure

*When we use noun + noun structure, the first noun is like an adjective. It is normally singular but the meaning is plural.

For example, a bookshop is a place where you can buy books; a tea bar is a bar where you can have tea.

Similarly, we say

a five rupee note (NOT five rupees note)

a night long journey (NOT nights long journey)

a five minute walk or five minutes’ walk (NOT five minutes walk)


Write C for the countable an U for the uncountable nouns for the words marked in bold.

  1. May I use your telephone?
  2. Do you have a spare toothbrush?
  3. Where have your kept my dictionary?
  4.  I want to write some notes but I haven’t got any paper.
  5. Whose baggage is lying here?
  6. There is no electricity in this area for the past two days.
  7. Honesty is the best policy.
  8. Using flash cards is a good way to increase your vocabulary.
  9. Let me check what I have received in my mail today.
  10. We are planning to shift furniture by tomorrow.
  11. Two coffees, please.
  12. Have you got any information about tomorrow’s exam schedule?
  13. He got a job because of his good work experience.
  14. I have some interesting experiences to share from my trip.
  15. Light comes from the Sun.

Choose the correct option

  1. Mathematics are/ismy favourite subject.
  2. The police wants/want to interview the hotel manager about the suicide case last weekend.
  3. Where do/does he live/lives?
  4. The government want/wants to increase taxes.
  5. No news is/are a good news.
  6. Five lakh rupees were/was stolen in a robbery.
  7. No one got hurt but the damage/damages to the bike was/were quite bad.
  8. You cannot sit here. There isn’t/aren’t room/rooms.
  9. Scotland’s/ Scotland climate is getting warmer.
  10. Henry/ Henry’s The Eighth/Eighth’s six wives all lived in one palace.

What Are Modifiers

Hello World!! Now that you are well set on your journey of grammar, here’s a small lesson for you on one of the most frequent error zones in grammar- Modifiers.

Oh, by the way! Do you like coffee? It might not be a bad idea to keep a steaming mugful by your side as you read the lesson. Sip along!


Grammar Bytes-Grammatical modifier-Modifiers

Modifiers- Dangling and Misplaced:
A modifier describes, clarifies, or gives more detail about a word or a word group. A dangling modifier is a phrase that modifies the wrong word or phrase because of the absence of the word or phrase it is supposed to modify. In other words, the modifier is left “dangling”. A misplaced modifier is placed incorrectly in the sentence such that it modifies the wrong word and makes the sentence sound illogical.

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As a stand-alone word and as a collective noun, “number” can take a singular or a plural form.

e.g. Two hundred persons were at the party; the number(s) is (are) just astounding.

However, when preceded by an article and followed by the preposition “of”, “number” is singular and the verb that follows “number” will be conjugated singular or plural depending on whether there is a definite or indefinite article in front. The expression ‘the number of . . .’ is singular, while ‘a number of . . .’ is plural.

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. If a Singular object is separated by a comma from an accompanying phrase it remains singular.

Correct: Ricky, accompanied by his wife was at the party.

Incorrect : Rickey, accompanied by his wife were at the party.

. A relative pronoun should be placed as close to its antecedent as possible.

Correct : I have read writings of Plato, who was a disciple of Socrates.

Incorrect : I have read Plato’s writing who was a disciple of Socrates.

Antecedent- The noun for which the pronoun is used.

Plato is the noun and its antecedent is who (relative pronoun)

. A reflexive pronoun cannot be used alone as a subject of the verb. It must be preceded by some other noun or pronoun.

Correct : Her mother and I were standing there.

Incorrect : Myself and her mother were standing there.

Reflexive pronoun- Formed by adding self/selves to the pronoun.

  1. An intransitive verb will always be followed by a subject pronoun.

Correct : It must have been she at the door.

Incorrect : It must have been her at the door.

Correct : I wish I were he.

Incorrect : I wish I were him.

Correct : He didn’t know that it was I who did it.

Incorrect : He didn’t know that it was me who did it.

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One question that will never stop coming from the students who prepare for CAT is “how to increase the vocabulary?” Suggestions such as read a lot, mug up words lists, make flash cards, subscribe to word a day etc. have always poured in from human race. Since I am the Queen of the Gadha Land, I am quite allergic to the advices that mortals always keep giving me. I like to make my own rules – Gadha Rules.

Each one of us must have followed some comic strip when we were kids but a few like me got addicted, and waste at least an hour each day even when we have left childhood at least 2 decades back. My day doesn’t complete without taking my daily dose of Archie, Peanuts, Nancy, Calvin and Hobbes, Dilbert, Garfield, Dennis etc.

But have you ever thought that these comics are a rich source of vocabulary and learning new words can really come with an incentive of laughter? Let me prove myself:

This strip is from Peanuts:


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critical reasoning basics
Critical reasoning

Sometimes it is necessary to ask ‘Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG)’ questions to put your goalposts and milestones in perspective. For example, a CAT 2010 aspirants should regularly question himself “Am I a 100 percentiler yet?” This question has lot more to it than it seems. First, half of you would not even dare to ask this question as you do not possess the belief that you can be a 100 percentiler. That means you would not be even 99 percentiler and the race for CAT is already over for you. For those who DO believe that they can be a 100 percentiler, the question would really make you ask yourself if you are doing enough to become one. You would realize the slackness that you have fallen into or the weak areas that you need to look into. In short, it would bring back the steel that you need so badly. The catch is that if you are not stupid enough to dream to be supreme, the biggest, and the best, do not dare to dream at all. Once you decide to be the best, biggest, or the most famous at what you want, everything else will fall into place.Today’s chapter is a continuation of the critical reasoning series that Kumar Sir has agreed to write. I am loving his simple and lucid way of explanation. I sincerely hope you would too. Please do attempt the subjective questions at the end of the lesson. Good Luck!-

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Today’s article comes from another founding father of TathaGat, Mr. Kumar Abhishek, popularly known as ‘Kumar’ and hands down the best verbal instructor in Delhi. Though he is great fun in his classes, he is a terror if you cross his rules, i.e. forget to submit your weekly book reviews, come without flashcards or The Hindu newspaper in the class, or arrive late for your class. But if you follow all that, you would forget about the time during his classes. He regales the students with his command in both Hindi and English. To quote a student “kumar sir is tough only in the first few classes……then it’s a smooth ride……and keeps the mood of the class light and interactive with his wisecracks and sudden outbursts of unadulterated hindi….like “mera abir balak kahan hai”………and “yatharth ka dharatal”……..”prabal sambhavana” and many more…” For those who would like to know, his favourite words are “Bhasad” and “Hawabaz” which he can be seen quoting once in every 5 sentences. Even his fan club on TG Town is known as ‘Bhasad’. Not to mention that he is extremely famous among his students. Once we were so full of reading his praises on the internet that we started pulling his leg “Aap hi to kahin jakar nahin likhte rahte hain internet par apne bare mein?” 😛 Lol, but he is too modest and too immersed in his books and movies to waste time on trifles.
This article is the first in the series that I have emotionally blackmailed him to write. Do post your questions and queries over here and I shall pressure him to respond (‘pressure’ not ‘pressurize’ as he keeps on telling me)

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Image result for shut up and read

Shut Up and Read

Some of us have grown up with books. Some of us haven’t. Some of us have even had an allergy to books. They gave us the rashes. They made us want to throw up. They made us want to eat the pages in desperation. And then there was the internet. We smile when we read the word “internet”. There are so many “fond” memories we have with the internet. We were happy. Utterly comfortable. In fact, we still are. But mention “books”, and we shiver. Grimace. Frown. Scowl. Glower.

So, what’s the point? The point is that you are reading this in a forum dedicated to the CAT. The point is that sooner or later you will dream of cracking the CAT. The point is that sooner or later you’ll come across your biggest adversary – your arch rival – your nemesis (quick, the dictionary…) – READING COMPREHENSION. It should be written in red. Nay, it should be written in blood. Your blood.

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