A noun is typically introduced by determiners, and may be followed by adjectives and prepositional phrases, producing a noun phrase. Typical nouns denote physical objects such as people, places, and things, but nouns can also denote more abstract concepts that are grammatically similar.
Adding -s to a noun makes it plural. If the singular noun ends in a consonant, -es is added instead. The plural ending does not affect the word's stress:
Adjectives modifying a noun do not change when the noun is plural. But when an adjective is used as a noun, it can be pluralized:
Some nouns that are plural in English are singular in Elefen:
Like many languages, Elefen distinguishes countable and uncountable nouns. A countable noun (or “count noun”) can be modified by a number, and can accept the plural -s. Typical countable nouns represent objects that are clearly individual entities, such as houses, cats, and thoughts. For example:
By contrast, uncountable nouns (sometimes called “mass nouns”) do not normally accept the plural -s. Uncountable nouns typically denote masses that have no clear individuality, such as liquids (water, juice), powders (sugar, sand), substances (metal, wood), or abstract qualities (elegance, slowness). When they are modified by a number or other quantity word, a unit of measure is often added for clarity. For example:
However, uncountable nouns can be used in a countable manner. They then denote particular examples or instances:
Nouns do not normally indicate their gender. To distinguish the sexes, the adjectives mas and fema are used:
But there are a few words for family relations that mark females with -a and males with -o:
There are also a few pairs that use different words for the two sexes:
The rare suffix -esa forms the female variants of a few historical social roles:
The two most important noun phrases in a sentence are the subject and the object. The subject precedes the verb, and the object follows the verb. Other noun phrases are normally introduced by prepositions to clarify their function.
A noun phrase must normally contain a determiner – perhaps just the plural marker -s. But this rule does not apply to proper nouns, to the names of weekdays, months, and languages, and to uncountable nouns:
The rule is also often relaxed when the noun phrase follows a preposition, particularly in fixed expressions:
An adjective or determiner can be modified by a preceding adverb. Because adverbs look like adjectives, multiple adjectives are normally separated by commas or e. In speech, intonation makes the difference clear:
Sometimes a noun is just a token for any member of its class. In such cases, it makes little difference whether la or un is used, or whether the noun is plural or singular:
A pronoun is a special case of a noun phrase. Pronouns cannot normally be modified.
Two noun phrases are said to be in apposition when one directly follows the other and both refer to the same entity. In most cases, the second phrase identifies the entity:
Acronyms and single letters can directly follow a noun to modify it:
Occasionally, two nouns apply equally to an object or person. In these cases, the nouns are joined by a hyphen:
In all cases, the plural -s or -es is applied to both nouns:
A special case involves the verb nomi (name):