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Classical Grammar, Lesson 03. Substantive Nouns

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18. When a child has learnt to know that a rose is a flower, a daisy a flower, and so on, if you show it a buttercup, it will probably know that that is a flower too.  If so, it will have got the notion of a class of things which are alike in some considerable points, though unlike in others.

19. Such names as denote any of the individuals that are contained in a class of things, are called common nouns or appellatives.   Examples of common nouns include: tree, flower, soldier, house.  These are called “common” because they are common to every individual comprised in the class.  They are called “appellative” from the Latin word appellare, which means “to call”, because they are the names by which external objects are called. 

20. In the names of materials no individual is distinguished.  examples include: water, milk, sand, iron, money, grass.

21. The names of persons and places are called proper names.  They are called “proper” from being proper, that is peculiar, to the individual bearing the name.  Examples include: John, the Nile, Rome.

22. Another class of substantives represent qualities or modes of action which are conceived by the mind as having an independent existence. When I have seen, or read of, a number of virtuous actions, I get the general notion of virtue. When I have seen a number of red things, I form the notion of redness, and so on. The names of such notions are called abstract substantives, from the Latin abstrahere, which means “to draw away”, because the notions themselves are “drawn off”, as it were, from the mass of appearances presented to our view. 

23. An abstract substantive is the name of a quality or property conceived by the mind as having an independent existence.

24. As distinguished from abstract substantives, the names of things that really exist are called concrete substantives.  The word “concrete” from the Latin concrētus, which means condensed or compacted; the abstract notion being compressed, as it were, and fixed in an actually existing individual.

25. A collective noun, or noun of multitude, is a singular substantive that expresses a collection of many individuals.  Examples incude: flock, swarm, nation, people.  The whole body forms one notion in the mind, which is quite distinct from our notion of each of the individuals composing it.


Identify the kind of noun each word is.

1. man  2. tree  3. soldier  4.  army  5. John  6. king  7. strength  8.  grotto  9. gravity  10. prudence   11. iron    12. temperance  13. robber  14. Cæsar   15. London   16. soberness  17. laughter  18. silver  19. length