July 5, 2022

Nouns are an open class of full-meaning words that typically perform the sentence functions of subject, real and improper object, and predicate, and can also perform the functions of attributes, attributives, and adverbial complements and clauses. The traditional definition says that nouns are a variable and independent type of word that designates beings, objects and phenomena.


Nouns are sometimes defined in terms of the grammatical categories to which they are subjected (classification by gender, adjusted for case and number). Such definitions tend to be language specific, as nouns do not have the same categories in all languages. Nouns are often defined, especially in informal contexts, in terms of their semantic properties (their meanings). Nouns are described as words that refer to a person, place, thing, event, substance, quality, quantity, etc. However, modern linguists have criticized this type of definition as uninformative. In the English language, there are several examples of nouns that do not have an object: drought, enjoyment, finesse, on behalf (as in the expression on behalf of), dint (in dint of), and sake (for the sake of).

Semantic classification

According to whether they denote a specific entity or an entire class of entities, nouns are traditionally divided into proper and common. Collective and constructive nouns are traditionally distinguished from the class of common nouns. Neither constructive nor collective nouns, unlike the so-called countable, at least in the basic sense, cannot be used with numbers. Collective nouns in the grammatical singular indicate a countable number of entities. Constructive nouns in the grammatical singular indicate an uncountable amount of matter. According to the semantic criterion, abstract nouns are traditionally additionally distinguished from nouns that denote concrete beings, objects and phenomena. From the category of abstract nouns, there are also verbs as a separate class.

Morphological categories

Classification categories

The classification (inherent) categories of nouns in the Serbian language are gender and declension type. Nouns can be masculine, feminine or neuter. For some nouns denoting living beings, the natural and grammatical genders are traditionally distinguished. Nouns can belong to one of three declension types: i