Grammar: Nouns and Verbs

Webster tells us that to “affirm” something (from the Latin ad + firmo, meaning “to make firm”) is to tell with confidence, to establish, to assert positively,  to declare the existence of something, to maintain as true

A predicate “affirms” something about its subject; it tells us “with confidence” that the subject has a certain quality or characteristic.

Nouns and verbs

From A New English Grammar for Schools, by Thomas Harvey:

1. All words used as the names of objects are nouns. 

The man gave the boy a book, a sled, and a knife.
In this sentence the words “man,” “boy,” “book,” “sled,” and “knife” are names of objects. They are called nouns, which means names

2. A noun is a name; as, bird, Mary, light.

Point out the nouns in the following sentences:
1. The horses are in the pasture.
2. A needle has a sharp point.
3. The clouds rested on the summit of the mountain.
4. The boys got into the boat and rowed into the middle of the stream.
5. The king was overtaken by a shower a short distance from the avenue that surrounded the city.
6. Henry and Oliver are living with Mr. Fields, their uncle.
7. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath.

3. A predicate affirms (confidently asserts something about) its subject.

Boys learn.
What is the predicate? What word affirms?
Girls are inquisitive.
What word affirms?

4. Some predicate words are used to affirm the action, being, or state of their subjects. They are called verbs

Horses run.
In this sentence “run” expresses action.
I am.
In this sentence “am” expresses being.
The boy sleeps.
In this sentence “sleeps” expresses state or condition.
The boy is running.
What word affirms? What word expresses action? The two words “is running ” are taken together as a verb, expressing action and affirming it.
A verb is a word that expresses action, being, or state; as, “Mary plays.” “I am.The house stands.
Write sentences, using the following verbs as predicates:
Walk, sing, whistle, swim, wrestle, play, write, study, plow, reap, drive, neigh, cackle, whine, snarl, gobble, quarrel, fight, is running, was walking, has cackled, shall talk, may cry, can gobble, shall be crying.


Point out the nouns and verbs in the following sentences:
1. The farmer plows in the spring and fall.
2. Their father gave them money.
3. The great tears sprang to their eyes.
4. They followed the cattle home.
5. The landlord answered his question.
6. He ordered him to go.
7. The pupils who had passed a good examination went home with joyful hearts.


Select the nouns and verbs from the following selection from Rasselas, by Dr. Samuel Johnson.

The Beautiful Valley
1. The place which the wisdom or policy of antiquity had destined for the residence of the Abyssinian princes was a spacious valley in the kingdom of Amhara, surrounded on every side by mountains, of which the summits overhang the middle part.
2. The only passage by which it could be entered was a cavern that passed under a rock, of which it has long been disputed whether it was the work of nature or of human industry. The outlet of the cavern was concealed by a thick wood, and the mouth which opened into the valley was closed with gates of iron, forged by the artificers of ancient days, so massy that no man could without the help of engines open or shut them.
3. From the mountains on every side rivulets descended that filled all the valley with verdure and fertility, and formed a lake in the middle inhabited by fish of every species, and frequented by every fowl whom Nature has taught to dip the wing in water. This lake discharged its superfluities by a stream which entered a dark cleft of the mountain on the northern side, and fell with dreadful noise from precipice to precipice till it was heard no more.
4. The sides of the mountains were covered with trees, the banks of the brooks were diversified with flowers; every blast shook spices from the rocks, and every month dropped fruits upon the ground. All animals that bite the grass or browse the shrub, whether wild or tame, wandered in this extensive circuit, secured from beasts of prey by the mountains which confined them. On one part were flocks and herds feeding in the pastures, on another, all beasts of chase frisking in the lawns; the sprightly kid was bounding on the rocks, the subtle monkey frolicking among the trees, and the solemn elephant reposing in the shade. All the diversities of the world were brought together, the blessings of nature were collected, and its evils extracted and excluded.

The following topics are addressed in the description above: —
1. The position.
2. The entrance.
3. How watered.
4. Life.
a. vegetable.
b. animal.
c. character of.
Write from these topics a composition of your own on A Beautiful Scene,” or use the above Albert Bierstadt painting of Yosemite as a reference when writing on the topics given.

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