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What Is a Nominative Noun?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Shereen Skola
  • Last Modified Date: 11 August 2014
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A nominative noun is a word that is used as the subject of a sentence, which often comes at the beginning of that sentence. This is one of the most common forms in which a noun is found and frequently uses a simple form. A nominative noun is typically followed by a verb or predicate that describes the action or condition of that subject in some way. This should not be confused with a nominative predicate, which is a noun case in which it describes or compliments the subject in some way and usually follows an intransitive verb.

It is typically quite simple for someone studying language to understand a nominative noun, since it is one of the most common ways in which people often use nouns. Basically, this is a noun that is the subject of a sentence, sometimes also called the subjective case though this is not a term used by many grammarians. In a simple sentence like “The man threw the ball,” the noun “man” is part of the noun phrase “The man,” which is the subject of the sentence. This means that “man” is a nominative noun in this instance.

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The same word can be a nominative noun in one sentence, and be used in a different case in another sentence. For example, if someone says “My cat jumped onto the man,” the word “man” is no longer being used in the nominative case. In this sentence, “cat” is the noun in the nominative case, and “man” has become an object. This is referred to as the objective or accusative case for a noun.

It is important for someone studying grammar to understand that a nominative noun should not be confused with a nominative predicate. They are both cases that nouns can take, however, which can make the distinction between them somewhat complex. The nominative predicate or predicate noun is a case in which a noun follows an intransitive verb and describes the subject of a sentence.

An intransitive verb does not require an object after it for the sentence to make sense; in fact, it cannot be followed by an object. In a sentence like “I am a teacher,” the word “am” is an intransitive verb that cannot be followed by a direct object. Rather than “a teacher” being an object in the sentence, it is a compliment that describes the subject “I.” This means that “teacher” is a nominative predicate in that sentence, though teacher is a nominative noun in a sentence like “The teacher spoke quickly.”

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