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As I understand it, there are singular nouns such as cat and spaceship that need to be preceded with some kind of specifier like an article (a, an, the) or a possessive word (my, Jane's, etc.) or the number "one." When given such a specifier, it can be used in places a noun that doesn't need a specifier can be used. Nouns that don't need specifiers include:

  • Plurals, like cats or spaceships
  • Uncountable nouns, like sugar or generosity
  • Gerunds, like sailing or wallowing, though maybe they aren't technically nouns

Example: "I like [my cat | cats | sugar | sailing]."

In this example, you can see any choice would work. Of course, when a plural is the subject then it will need a different verb.

Example: "[The spaceship | spaceships | generosity | wallowing] [is | are] difficult to get the hang of."

So my question is this. Is there a generic term for the type of phrase that can fill such a blank spot? A noun phrase? A certain type of noun phrase?

As a bonus question, is there a term for the type of specifier that combines with a singular noun to form such a phrase?

And as another bonus question, is there a generic term for a noun that requires no such specifier?

closed as unclear what you're asking by JJJ, Bread, curiousdannii, Nigel J, jimm101 May 24 '18 at 14:07

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    Have a look at the zero article and the null article on this site. – Nigel J May 11 '18 at 12:25
  • All right, I think "determiner" may be the answer to my second question. – Kyle Delaney May 11 '18 at 13:32