日本人英文法の意外な穴

帝京大学教授で、ルミナス英和辞典(研究社)をはじめとする英語辞書編纂にも多く関わってこられたクリストファ・バーナード先生が月3~4回、語法、語彙を含めた広い意味での英文法の様々なトピックを解説します。

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105. Six classes of nouns

105. Six classes of nouns

In Columns 23, 24, 28, 29, 30, 31, 66, and 89, I discussed some different classes of nouns. In this Column I want to give a general overview of these classes:

ABSTRACT NOUNS: love, happiness, freedom, etc.
These nouns do not usually occur with an article:
1) Freedom is the most important thing.

An exception to this is when the abstract noun is made more specific, as in:
2) The freedom that we now enjoy is the greatest in human history.

COUNTABLE NOUNS: an apple, two cats, three men, etc.

PAIR NOUNS: a pair of trousers, two pairs of glasses, three pairs of contact lenses

UNCOUNTABLE NOUNS: some sugar, some bread, some furniture

We can count uncountable nouns by using containers, measurements, or shapes:
a cup of sugar, two litres of water, three loaves of bread

It is important to realise that uncountable nouns like "furniture" are different from uncountable nouns like "sugar" since we can see and recognise the different parts making up furniture, such as: a chair, a bed, a lamp, etc.

We can count these furniture-type uncountable nouns in, for example, the following manner:
3) We bought ten sets of bedroom furniture for the new hotel.

We can also count the individual parts which all together make up furniture in the following way:
4) We bought five pieces of furniture.
5) We sold ten items of equipment.

GROUP NOUNS: crew, staff, audience, etc.
These are made up of individual items (eg, people) within the group (eg, pilot, co-pilot, stewardess).

If we want to talk about one of the people within a group noun, we have to say something like this:
6) She is a member of the crew.

Group nouns can themselves be plural:
7) There were five crews and five planes.
8) The staffs from the different branches of our company had a joint meeting.

Group nouns very often are followed by either a singular or a plural verb:
9) The crew was/were very calm.
10) The audience is/are bored.

PLURAL NOUNS: the police, the intelligentsia

These nouns are always plural, and always occur with a plural verb:
11) The police are hunting for the bank robber.
12) The intelligentisia always think that they know best.

Plural nouns may look like group nouns, but they are not, since they themselves cannot form plurals: X two polices.

◆NOTES◆
・give a general overview of: ~の概略を説明する
・abstract nouns: 抽象名詞
・an exception to ~: ~の例外
・(un)countable nouns: (不)可算名詞
・pair nouns: 対で用いられる名詞
・all together: みんな一緒に
・group nouns: 集合名詞
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