Chapter 1


Finding Nouns, Verbs, and Subjects

We will use the standard of underlining subjects once and verbs twice.


  • A noun is a word or set of words for a person, place, thing, or idea. A noun of more than one word (tennis court, gas station) is called a compound noun.

There are common nouns and proper nouns. Common nouns are words for a general class of people, places, things, and ideas (man, city, award, honesty). They are not capitalized. Proper nouns are always capitalized. They name specific people, places, and things (Joe, Chicago, Academy Award).

For more on nouns, see Chapter Two, “Apostrophes,” Rules 2a through 2e.

  • A verb is a word or set of words that shows action (runs, is going, has been painting); feeling (loves, envies); or state of being (am, are, is, have been, was, seem).
Examples: He ran around the block.
I like my friend.
They seem friendly.

State-of-being verbs are called linking verbs. They include all forms of the verb to be, plus such words as look, feel, appear, act, go, followed by an adjective. (See the “Adjectives and Adverbs” section later in this chapter.)

Examples: You look happy.
We feel fine.
He went ballistic.

Verbs often consist of more than one word. For instance, had been breaking down is a four-word verb. It has a two-word main verb, breaking down (also called a phrasal verb), and two helping verbs (had and been). Helping verbs are so named because they help clarify the intended meaning. ...

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