Is it just a noun, or is there a more precise name? It seems like an object of the preposition, but I'm not sure.

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Of course it's a noun. A noun, as the song goes, is a person, place, or thing, and touch is certainly a thing.

In this sentence, it is the object of the preposition of, but the the object of preposition is always a noun-phrase of one sort or another (e.g. a noun, a pronoun, something like that).

  • 3
    Touch is a thing? Where can you buy it? What does it look like? That's not the definition of a noun. Luckily, you do point out that only a noun phrase can be the object of a preposition; that is a correct definition. – John Lawler Mar 18 '15 at 2:01
  • @JohnLawler - "Love" is a thing, but Can't buy me love. – Hot Licks Mar 18 '15 at 2:45
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    It's a noun all right. But it's not a thing. It's an abstraction, like diagonalization of a matrix. The point is that "person, place, or thing" is what you tell third-graders when they ask what a noun is. It makes them shut up and it sound good. But it doesn't describe nouns; it just picks out some examples. Persons, places, and things are indeed represented by nouns; but they are very far from being the only things represented. – John Lawler Mar 18 '15 at 14:22
  • @JohnLawler -- I think your sense that "thing" necessarily means a tangible thing, like an apple or office building. Are things like Wednesday, injustice, memory, voltage, efficiency, love, history, proximity, and notoriety not "things" in your vocabulary? (Remember, "thing" originally meant "royal court", then "legal case", two not-very-tangible, uh, things.) – Malvolio Mar 18 '15 at 15:24
  • So if all those are things, how do you tell them from adjectives and verbs? Just by knowing they're nouns? – John Lawler Mar 18 '15 at 15:55

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