Positions and Functions of Nouns

Every word in English has its own positions and functions in the sentences. Today we are going to see where nouns are used and what functions they do in making a sentence.

What is a noun?

A noun is the name of a person, place, animal, or thing.

  • Ricky and his dog are playing football in the garden.

Positions and Functions of Nouns

We use nouns in different places of a sentence. The following 8 use of nouns are MUST-KNOW for every learner: 

1. Subject

Nouns as subjects mainly come before the verb, often at the beginning of the sentence. Subject of an active verb does the action. Remember that subject controls the verbs number and person. 

  • Ricky kicks football to Micky.
  • Ricky and Micky kick football.
  • A bird flies in the sky.
  • Birds fly in the sky.

2. Direct Object

Nouns as direct objects appear just after the transitive verbs. Direct objects receive the action of the verb.

  • Ricky kicks football to Micky.
  • I read a book.
  • She likes ice-cream.
  • Columbus discovered America.

3. Indirect Object 

Some verbs have two objects. The first object is a person and it is called Indirect Object. The second object is Direct Object. Indirect Object receives the Direct Object.  

  • Ricky gives Micky a bat.
  • Grandma told Jesica a story.  

4. Object of Prepositions

Like the transitive verbs, prepositions always follow objects. So, nouns after prepositions are called their object.

  • Ricky kicks football to Micky
  • We live in America.
  • They went to Canada.
  • Who is going with you?

5. Subject Complement

Nouns after linking verbs like 'Be' and 'Become' are called Subject Complement or Predicate Nominative. They are called predicate nominatives because they always appear in the predicate and they are always in the nominative case. They are called subject complements because both the nouns before and after the linking verbs denote the same person or thing. 

  • Ricky is a footballer.
  • Owls are nocturnal birds.
  • Shelly became our captain.
  • David was a magician.

6. Object Complement

If a verb like 'elect’, ‘select’, ‘nominate’, ‘appoint’, ‘name’, ‘call’ and ‘make has two nouns after it and both the nouns denote the same person, the second noun is called object complement. The first one is direct object.

  • We made Ricky our captain.
  • Father named him Michale.
  • They elected me chairman.
  • People call him leader.

7. Appositive

Sometimes we use two nouns side by side where both the nouns denote same person or thing. The second noun is called Appositive

  • Ricky, our captain is a smart boy. 
  • Our captainRicky is a smart boy


8. Vocative

We often address someone directly in our speech. This noun of direct addressed is called Vocative or noun of direct address. 

  • Hi Ricky, come here.
  • Ratan, have you learnt your lesson today?
  • Dad, please come with me.
  • Bob, lesten to me. 

Vocative vs Object:

We use a comma (,) before a vocative or nominative of direct address. This is very important. Otherwise, the meaning of the sentence may be changed. For example, compare the following: 

  • I don’t know, Ricky. (Vocative) 
  • I don’t know Ricky. (Direct Object) 

The first sentence means that the speaker is telling Ricky that he/ she does not know something. The second sentence means that the speaker does not know Ricky.