2 May 2000 Noun Properties, in L'Huillier, Advanced French Grammar

presentation of L'Huillier's work, by Corry Shores

[Subsection headings are my own]

Monique L'Huillier

Advanced French Grammar

1. Framework

1.1 Parts of Speech

1.1.2 Nouns Properties

We may subcategorize nouns according to their semantic and syntactic (lexical) features.

(i) Nouns can be common or proper

1) Common: un homme; un chat; une table
2) Proper: Marie, Médor; la France, la Seine, la rue de Rivoli, Paris; le Conseil d'Etat

The first letter of proper nouns is capitalized.

Common nouns usually take an article. But proper nouns referring to animate beings (Paul) usually do not take an article, but later in chapter 23 we discuss exceptions.

(ii) Nouns represent animates or inanimates

1) human or non-human animate beings: un homme, une femme; un chat
2) inanimate things, including concrete and abstract things: une table, la natation, la philosophie

We will need to recognize this distinction when dealing with relative, interrogative, and personal object pronouns, as well when we are using c'est/il est.

(iii) Nouns can be concrete or abstract

1) concrete (these can be seen, felt, or heard): la table, du vin le vent
2) abstract: la force, l'amitié, la psychologie

(iv) Nouns can be countable or uncountable

1) countable: un pain complet (a wholewheat loaf)
2) uncountable (these refer to quantities): du pain complet (wholewheat bread)

(v) Nouns can be collective or individual

1) collective (these refer to things in groups sharing the same category): la famille, la vaisselle
2) individual: un père, une assiette

L'Huillier, Monique. Advanced French Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
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