To put things into perspective English is the only language I know. The other day I got curious and started doing some research into words. To be honest I had very little idea what a noun or verb was (and still do). I probably learnt it in the past but it never stuck. So make your answer as simplistic as possible please.

So verbs are actions and nouns are a place, person or thing. I thought domination would be a verb because I thought it was an action. It turns out domination is a noun.

How is domination a person, thing or place? How is dominate a verb? How is it an action?

Please provide some examples to clarify.

  1. The enemy(noun?) army(noun)(subject?) holds(noun or verb?) a dominate(verb) position(noun).

  2. We(pronoun) are battling(verb) for(co-ordinate) domination(noun?) over(adverb?)(preposition?) the(determiner?)(article?) country(noun).

How is domination a noun? Also what is "are", I think I heard somewhere it was a to-be verb, along with is, am, are.

Also Google says hold can be either a verb or a noun.

"she was holding a brown leather suitcase"
"he caught hold of her arm"

Holding is an action so it is a verb. However, why is hold not an action? Google says hold could be a noun because it could be :

1.an act or manner of grasping something; a grip.

So "hold still while I fix the car". Hold would be a noun?

I think my definition of noun as person, place or thing is wrong. Can you provide me with a better definition?

  • sure, how is domination a person, place or thing?
    – Mr Gibbous
    Feb 17, 2016 at 3:45
  • It is a thing..
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 17, 2016 at 3:45
  • I thought a thing was an object, like a chair, desk or car. The definition of domination is : the exercise of power or influence over someone or something. This is not an object, can you specify what a thing is?
    – Mr Gibbous
    Feb 17, 2016 at 3:52
  • It's a "thing", even if you can't touch it.
    – Hot Licks
    Feb 17, 2016 at 3:56
  • 2
    'Domination' and other abstract nouns are 'things' in the grammatical sense that we use the same words to refer to the as we to do to physical objects - the pronoun 'it', the question word 'what' and the relative pronoun 'which', for example.
    – Sydney
    Feb 17, 2016 at 23:40

5 Answers 5


The -tion (or -sion) suffix is commonly used to turn a verb into a noun. Some common examples include:

communicate => communication

relax => relaxation

educate => education

It's true that these nouns are not physical, tangible things, but the definition of noun as "person, place, or thing" is woefully incomplete. These nouns are abstract concepts, which are indeed nouns.

  • 1
    I remember being taught in middle school about a fourth kind of noun – besides a person, place, or thing. The fourth kind of noun was a concept or idea, such as "liberty" or "grief."
    – J.R.
    Mar 18, 2016 at 17:17

You wrote:

The enemy(noun?) army(noun)(subject?) holds(noun or verb?) a dominate(verb) position(noun).

but let's try writing and parsing that again:

The enemy(modifier) army(noun)(subject) holds(verb) a dominant(adjective) position(noun).

In summary:

  • In this sentence, enemy is a modifier. We might also label it a noun adjunct.
  • The correct word to use toward the end of your sentence is the adjective dominant, not the verb dominate. Because the two sound similar, they are often confused.


The enemy army holds a dominant position.
The enemy army dominated the battle.


How is domination a person, thing or place? How is dominate a verb? how is it an action?

Word order in English is very important in determining the function of a word. Generally that is "Subject - Verb - Auxillary - Object" with modifiers possible before or after, and with determiners in front of nouns. Entire phrases can act as a subject or object with various conventions governing "linker" words like that, which, etc.

English used to have an elaborate system of word endings and such to identify function, but word order has slowly taken over, to the point where the place in a sentence a word appears will probably be the final judge of what function a word is trying to be.

All language is eternally a "work in progress" so there is never such a thing as 100% consistency with rules or any system.

So domination is a person, thing, or place if it appears in certain places in a sentence.

Domination is the way to succeed. (Domination appears in the sentence where we expect a subject.)

I domination my way to success. (Domination appears in the sentence where we expect a verb. However, domination is never used as a verb so this sounds funny and wrong, but we can tell you mean dominate because of the word order.)

I use domination to succeed. (Domination appears in the sentence where we expect an object.)

My domination sword helped me succeed in the game. (Domination appears in the sentence where we expect a modifier. It sounds a little funny - sword of domination would be more usual, but again, we know you mean that because of the word order.)

That I dominated him means I win the game. (The entire phrase That I dominated him is a clause, with it's own subject and verb, and that entire phrase is functioning as the subject of X means I win the game.)


Latin verbs ending in -are form nouns ending in atio/ation-is (nominative, shortened, and genitive), so domination is a noun. But you can distinguish verbs and nouns much simpler if you don't use definitions explaining what these words are, but what you can do with them.

A verb is a word that you can connect with personal pronouns, I, you, he,she it etc. You can say I/they dominate sth.

A noun is a word that you can replace by he/she/it when it is singular or by they when it is plural. And you can place article-words before a noun. Article-words are the articles and other words that go into the position of the article.

You can't say "I domination", but you can replace domination by "it". And you can say "the domination/their domination". So it is a noun.

  • Do you mean replace "dominate" by it?
    – Peter
    Feb 17, 2016 at 9:40
  • @Peter If you read my post you will find I said nothing of the kind.
    – rogermue
    Mar 18, 2016 at 15:59

"The enemy(noun?) army(noun)(subject?) holds(noun or verb?) a dominate(verb) position(noun)."

Your problem here is that this is not a grammatically correct sentence. I don't know if you read or heard this sentence somewhere or invented it yourself. But you cannot use the verb "dominate" at that point in the sentence: it makes no sense.

Perhaps you mis-read this and the original actually said, "The enemy army holds a dominant position." "Dominant" is an adjective, and thus can modify the noun "position". (Maybe you mis-read or mis-heard it, or maybe the original writer had a slip of the tongue or keyboard.)

"Dominate" is a verb. A valid use would be, for example, "The enemy army dominates the region."

RE domination: When we say that a noun is a "person, place, or thing", the "thing" can be an abstract idea. Some say that a noun is a "person, place, thing, OR IDEA". A noun doesn't have to be something you could point at or touch. Words that are nouns in the sense of "idea" include, for example, "love", "justice", "history", "politics", and, for that matter, "idea". If you think about it, the place these words occupy in a sentence is the same as words for concrete "things". Not that you could substitute such a word in any sentence with a concrete noun and it would make sense. "I put the eggs in my refrigerator" --> "I put the justice in my refrigerator." Obvious nonsense. But then, that wouldn't work with many concrete nouns either. "I put the elephants in my refrigerator"? "I put France in my refrigerator"? Etc. But an "idea" noun can act and be acted on just like a concrete noun. "The wall prevented me from reaching my destination." "Prejudice prevented me from getting the job." They can be modified by adjectives. "That is a big rock." "She showed great love." Etc.

"Domination" is an "idea noun". It is used as a noun in a sentence. You can say, "The army had domination over the area", just like you could say, "The army had tanks and planes." You cannot use it as a verb. You CAN'T say, "The army domination the area." That calls for a verb. You CAN say, "The army dominates the area."

RE "hold": In the sentence, "Hold still while I fix the car", "hold" is used as a verb. It is an imperative sentence: you are commanding someone to do something, and the thing you are commanding them to do is to "hold".

Examples of "hold" used as a noun would be, "He had a firm hold on the dog's collar" or "His hold on the railing slipped and he plummeted to his death." Note that in these cases we are using "hold" as a thing. In the first case, "He had a hold", "hold" was something that he possessed, like you could have a banana. In the second, "his hold", again, a thing that he had (and then lost).

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