Functions of Nouns

Updated on March 17, 2018

The 5 grammatical functions of a noun

A noun can be defined as a word that is used to name a person, place, animal, or thing. It can also name a state, an activity, an action, or a quality.

What is the grammatical function of a noun?

The work that a noun performs in a sentence is referred to as its grammatical function. In this article, we are going to take a detailed look at the five grammatical functions of nouns.

A noun can perform any of the following five functions:

  • Subject of a verb
  • Object of a verb
  • Complement of a verb
  • Object of a preposition
  • Be in apposition to another noun

Let us now take a look at the functions above one by one.

Noun functioning as the subject of a verb

A noun will function as the subject of a verb when it is the subject of the sentence and comes before the main verb of the sentence. More often than not, the noun will begin the sentence.

Example: Stacy killed a snake last night. (Here, the noun “Stacy” is functioning as the subject of the verb “killed.”)

Other examples are as follow:

  • John teaches English in China.
  • Children can be very naughty sometimes.
  • Obama was voted President.
  • The politician is a liar.

All of the highlighted nouns in the sentences above are functioning as subjects to their respective verbs. They function as subjects of verbs simply because they come before the main verbs in the sentences and are also the subjects in their respective sentences.

Noun functioning as an object of a verb

A noun functions as an object of a verb when it comes after an action verb and receives the action of the verb. A noun functioning as an object of a verb in a sentence will always be the recipient of an action.

Example: Tom slapped Jerry. (Here, since the noun “Jerry” is coming after the action verb “slapped” and receiving the action of the verb, we say it is the object of the verb “slapped.”)

More examples:

  • I kicked the ball.
  • I hate Janet.
  • The teacher punished the students.
  • I wrote the letter.
  • I know London because I have been there several times.
  • Roberta cooked the food.

All of the highlighted words in the sentences above are nouns functioning as objects of verbs. They are functioning as objects of their respective verbs simply because they are the recipients of the actions of their verbs.

Noun functioning as the complement of a verb

A noun will function as the complement of a verb when it comes after a linking verb or a state-of-being verb and receives no action from the verb. Some examples of linking verbs in the English language include the following: is, are, am, be, are, was, were, been, being, seem, taste, appoint, become, feel, smell, sound, appear, etc.

Example: John is a liar. (Here, the noun “liar” is functioning as the complement of the verb “is.”)

Other examples of nouns functioning as complements of verbs:

  • The man is a trader.
  • I was a teacher while living in China.
  • John is the winner.
  • Our friends from Pakistan were the losers.
  • I think it is an animal.
  • Phil Collins is a legendary musician.

All highlighted nouns in the sentences above are functioning as complements of their respective linking verbs.

Noun functioning as the object of a preposition

When a noun functions as the object of a preposition, it comes after a preposition in a sentence. By definition, any noun that comes immediately after a preposition is the object of that preposition. For example “John” is the object of the preposition “to” in this sentence: I gave the book to John.

We can therefore say that the noun “John” is functioning as the object of the preposition “to.”

Now that we have a good understanding as to what a noun functioning as the object of a preposition looks like, let us take a look at some more examples below.

  • I interceded for the boy.
  • I will buy books for the children today when I visit the bookstore.
  • I have to give it to the teacher.
  • Let us go with John.
  • I trust in God.
  • It is not mine; it is for the landlord.

From the examples above, you can see that each of the nouns highlighted come after prepositions thereby making them objects of their respective prepositions.

Noun being in apposition to another noun

This is the last but not least grammatical function of a noun. A noun can be in apposition to another noun. By definition, the word “apposition” means putting a noun next to another noun to explain it. So each time you see a noun placed next to another noun and that noun is explaining the other noun, then you have a good example of a noun being in apposition to anther noun.

For example: The footballer, Suarez has been suspended. (Here, you notice that two nouns have been put next to each other, namely “footballer” and “Suarez”. Now, you notice that the noun “Suarez” can be used to replace “footballer” and it also gives some information about the other noun "footballer". So we can say the noun "Suarez" is in apposition to the noun "footballer")

Other examples include the following:

  • The nurse, Janet has retired.
  • His book, Animal Farm, is considered one of the greatest books ever written.
  • The pastor, Elijah, has been arrested.
  • My hometown, Manchester, is a wonderful place.

All the highlighted nouns in the sentences above are nouns being in apposition to the nouns coming before them.

I hope that having read from the beginning of this article to the end, you now have at least a rudimentary idea what the functions of nouns are and what each of them looks like. If you still haven’t gotten it yet, I suggest that you read over this article once more. I believe that the understanding will definitely start trickling in gradually.

Let us now try our hands on the following examples below and see if we can identify the grammatical functions of the highlighted nouns in the sentences:

  1. I hate travelling to my hometown.
  2. John performed very well in the exams.
  3. Don’t waste your precious time on John.
  4. The President supported the action.
  5. The strike lasted for more than a week.
  6. Democracy gives power to the people.
  7. The fox jumped over the wall.
  8. He is a professor.
  9. The country, Sweden, is very peaceful.
  10. It was written by George Orwell.

NOTE: The grammatical function of a noun is very similar to the grammatical function of a pronoun. Remember, pronouns behave just like nouns—wherever a noun can be placed, a pronoun can also be placed there and eliminate the noun. This is the reason why grammarians say that pronouns can also perform all of the five grammatical functions of the noun. You can read our lesson on the grammatical functions of pronouns here: Functions of Pronouns. I actually recommend you read that lesson also.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      27 hours ago

      Thank for ur assistance keep it up

    • profile image

      Christian Nyadie 

      13 days ago

      Good work done keep it up

    • profile image


      2 weeks ago

      Thanks for your surport. I love that!

    • profile image


      2 weeks ago

      Thanks for helping me finish my assignment

    • profile image

      Odo Michael 

      3 weeks ago

      thanks for given me some knowledge

      here .

    • profile image

      Pweety Rahhola 

      4 weeks ago

      Thanks u very much

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      it is wonderful I luv it

    • profile image


      2 months ago

      Is educative thanks

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      Good one, hoping for more update.

    • profile image


      3 months ago

      Thanks a lot

    • profile image


      6 months ago

      It really helped thanks a lot

    • profile image


      6 months ago

      thanks (*_*)

    • profile image

      evans ofosu prah 

      7 months ago

      thank you very much that was really helpful. Hope you update us more

    • profile image


      7 months ago

      That was really helpfull! Thanks alot!

    • profile image

      Diana No 

      8 months ago

      Thanks for your kindness, this is a nice site for teachers and students

    • profile image


      9 months ago

      Thanks :3 now I have an assignment (XD)

    • profile image

      lontsi bienvevue 

      11 months ago

      very useful thank you

    • profile image

      john dandia 

      12 months ago

      this is a nice site for teachers and students

    • momsdoworkathome profile image

      Katina Davenport 

      4 years ago from Michigan

      This reminds me of what I teach my daughter in homeschool.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)