My English teacher today gave us this question:

Make a sentence using any verb word as a noun. You can use it as a subject.

But how is this possible?

I thought all the verbs are used for actions, and noun is for something or someone.

So I am stuck on how to make this possible.

Please help. Thanks.

  • 4
    Many verbs can also be nouns (called 'gerundial nouns'). One example is Even occasional social smoking in the office is prohibited. "Smoking" is clearly a noun here since it is modified by the adjectives "occasional" and "social". – BillJ Jun 13 '17 at 16:55
  • To infinitives also can function as the subject of a sentence. – Lucian Sava Jun 13 '17 at 17:11
  • 1
    @LucianSava Yes, but not as nouns, which is what the OP asked about. – BillJ Jun 13 '17 at 17:13
  • 1
    You've already done it yourself in the question text! Please help is a verb usage, but you could have said I need help, in which case it's a noun. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Jun 13 '17 at 17:45

That's pretty easy actually.

What you can do is simply use the verb word itself as a noun (notice how I just used verb as an adjective?).

For example, the word run is a verb. But the word itself can be used as a noun.

Run means to sprint with your legs.

Get it? Any word, even adjectives, conjunctions, adverbs, etc. when you are simply using it as a word can be interpreted as a noun or the subject of a sentence.

Hope this helps.

  • 1
    In your first example "verb" is not an adjective but a noun modifying the noun "word" to give the nominal "verb word". It is not possible for adjectives, conjunctions and adverbs to function as nouns. – BillJ Jun 13 '17 at 17:34
  • @BillJ So what's happy in "The first 'happy' in your sentence describes the man."? – userr2684291 Jun 13 '17 at 18:03
  • The rich get richer and the poor get poorer . . . but it's true that English is more reluctant than Latin, German or French to recategorize nomina adjectiva as nomina substantiva. – StoneyB on hiatus Jun 13 '17 at 18:21
  • @StoneyB I give up! Life's too short. – BillJ Jun 13 '17 at 18:49
  • What is it when we throw someone's words back in their face, quoting a specific word: "I don't want to hear about 'sorry' ". In other words, "Don't use the word 'sorry' with me. I'm not in a forgiving mood." – Tᴚoɯɐuo Jun 13 '17 at 19:28

I can think of two possible concepts your teacher might be trying to hammer home.

First, as BillJ said in an initial comment, gerunds are verbs that function as nouns. Typically, an -ing is added to the infinitive verb to form the gerund.

Let's take a few random verbs – teach, jog, and eat – and try it:

  • Teaching is a noble profession.
  • Jogging is good for your health.
  • Eating too many sweets might cause you to gain weight.

On the other hand, maybe your teacher wasn't thinking about gerunds at all. It might be surprising for a learner to realize how many English words have definitions as both nouns and verbs.

For example, consider: pin, list, drink, hold, phone, rhyme, duck, and cup. (In fact, it might be harder to think of a verb that doesn't also function as a noun than to think of one that does!)

I will use each of those words in a sentence now, first as a verb, and then as a noun:

  • Pin the fabric together before sewing. Use four pins for each piece.
  • List all the places we might go on vacation. After that, put your list in an envelope.
  • Drink four glasses of water every day in the summer. A cold drink would be nice right now.
  • Hold your partner's hand gently while you dance. The wrestler put his opponent in a hold.
  • Phone your brother before you leave. Could you please answer the phone?
  • The word 'phone' rhymes with 'loan'. The poet had trouble writing his last rhyme.

For these last two, I'll use both the verb and noun in the same sentence:

  • You should duck if you hear the hunters shooting at a duck.
  • This piece is very delicate, so please carefully cup your hands around the cup.

As an interesting footnote, other words in this answer that can be used as both a noun and verb include: hammer, jog, home, function, sentence, form, take, hand, vacation, envelope, water, dance, answer, and can. (This is not the complete list.)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.