Can I make the word "noun" into a generic with the definite article ?


The noun can be a subject or object.

  • Yes you can. Just like the leopard can be found in the wild both in Africa and in Asia. Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 15:18
  • But, someone said it can't be used. Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 15:20
  • But notice you need to talk about the whole noun phrase the noun not just the noun by itself. Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 15:20
  • I see that answer. I disagree. It provides no acceptable rationale for saying no. Maybe @Lawler can comment. Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 15:21
  • But, the leopard is just the leopard by itself. Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 15:21

1 Answer 1



A noun can function as a subject or object.

Here 'a' does the job you were looking for. You could also say 'Nouns can function...'

If you say 'the noun', that means you have a particular noun in mind - 'giraffe' for instance.

Edit: There are cases where generic noun phrases can be made with 'the' but here it sounds strange and is ambiguous.

  • Can only things like cars and tigers be used with "the"? Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 13:58
  • I can play the piano. The kangaroo is the best known mammal in Australia. More often than not we don't use it for a general class of things. I would learn examples of it as exceptions.
    – Robert
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 14:01
  • 2
    This answer is wrong. "The noun" is just a generic noun phrase just like "The giraffe". I agree it sounds a little unusual and stuffy to say "the noun", but to simply say "no" is just wrong.
    – stangdon
    Commented Oct 25, 2017 at 15:28
  • Yes; you're right. My mistake. Ex. Of all the parts of speech, the noun is the easiest to use. I jumped to a conclusion because the example sentence in the question was ambiguous and confusing.
    – Robert
    Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 2:29

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