Hey, everyone.  Today I am writing my blog from a Canadian Tire automotive waiting room.  I'm so proud of myself for making the most of my time.  I am enjoying the ability to work whenever, from wherever.  With that being said, I have begun applying to freelance jobs again.  I'm trying not to stress and know that the more relaxed I am, the better I work.  And I won't be so desperate for work that I take on questionable and harsh clients.  I am aiming more towards editing and proofreading work but I'll still apply to web content, transcription and business writing work, and anything else that catches my interest.  I would love to get more into legitimate article writing, so that I can get some experience on that front.

Now onto today's lesson.  Today we will be discussing the function of a noun in a sentence.  I know we all know how a sentence looks and should sound, but adding the technical terms and discussing the fundamentals leads to a deeper understanding of what you read and write.

First off nouns can be a subjects, what the sentence is about.  A subject can be expanded on or explained with other nouns or modifiers.

The dog hoped through the field.
Chemistry is a difficult subject.
The deer galloped through the forest.

There are also compound subjects which is made by using a coordinating conjunction, which is usually accomplished by adding and to a sentence.

The dog barked and the cat meowed.
Cars and buses flew down the highway.
The deer and elk ate all the corn.

Secondly nouns can be used as modifiers or appositives.  Modifiers are words that modify other words. In the phrase, the wide truck, wide is an adjective modifying trailer.  The very wide trailer, very is an adverb modifying wide.  In a later post, we will discuss adjectives and adverbs.

In regards to a noun acting as a modifier, consider the phrase The Johnston house, a proper noun is modifying a common noun.

When two nouns are used together, the result is a compound.  Compound nouns can be open, hyphenated, or they can be closed.

computer desk

Keep in mind that to many compound nouns in a sentence creates a hard to read sentence.  If you are ever in doubt about how to spell a compound noun, consult a dictionary.

An appositive is a noun that renames a different noun or provides another way to look at or describe it.  If the appositive is needed to identify the noun then no comma is used.  If the appositive provides only additional information about the noun, then punctuation is used.  Appositives can appear anywhere in a sentence, and can be set off with commas, em dashes, colons (but only if the appositive is at the end of a complete sentence), and parentheses.  In the examples the appositives have be underlined and the nouns they modify have been bolded.

Ben's brother Bob helped him build the house.
My sister, Sandy, is a wonderful artist.
My father won a new house in a contest-an elaborate two-story house with a manicured lawn.

Em dashes are more empathic than commas.  These examples follow the same form as above.

The farmer-a weather-beaten, kind man-nursed the abandoned calf to health.

Appositives introduced by a colon come at the end of a sentence.

Shelley got what she wanted most; admission to Harvard.

Parenthetical appositives have an aside quality.

The cake (a desert I usually avoid) was delicious.

Appositives not accompanied by punctuation, cannot be removed from a sentence.  When an appositive is followed by a title, the title is included for the purpose of identification.

I sailed on the boat The Princess for a week.

Next week will be part 2 of the functions of nouns in a sentence, which will include subjective complements, direct objects, indirect objects, objective complements, and objects of prepositions.

If anyone would like a topic covered in the future or have any questions feel free to leave a comment or contact me directly.  Also, if I make any mistakes, please point them out, I'm still learning too and welcome any kind of pointers, corrections and criticisms.

© 2012 S. Stevens

Lutz, Gary and Diane Stevenson. Writer's Digest Grammar Desk Reference. Cincinnati: Writer's Digest Books, 2010. Print.