Numerals include all numbers, whether as words or as digits. They may be divided into two major types. CARDINAL numerals include words like:
nought, zero, one, two, 3, fifty-six, 100, a thousand
ORDINAL numerals include
first, 2nd, third, fourth, 500th
We classify numerals as a subclass of nouns because in certain circumstances they can take plurals:
five twos are ten
They may also take the:
the fourth of July
And some plural numerals can take an adjective before them, just like other nouns:
the house was built in the late 1960s
In each of our examples, the numerals occur independently, that is, without a noun following them. In these positions, we can classify them as a type of noun because they behave in much the same way as nouns do. Notice, for example, that we can replace the numerals in our examples with common nouns:
Numerals do not always occur independently. They often occur before a noun, as in
In this position, we classify them as determiners, which we will examine in the next section.
The Gender of Nouns
The gender of nouns plays an important role in the grammar of some languages. In French, for instance, a masculine noun can only take the masculine form of an adjective. If the noun is feminine, then it will take a different form of the same adjective - its feminine form.
In English, however, nouns are not in themselves masculine or feminine. They do not have grammatical gender, though they may refer to male or female people or animals:
These distinctions in spelling reflect differences in sex, but they have no grammatical implications. For instance, we use the same form of an adjective whether we are referring to a waiter or to a waitress:
Similarly, the natural distinctions reflected in such pairs asbrother/sister, nephew/niece, and king/queen have no consequence for grammar. While they refer to specific sexes, these words are not masculine or feminine in themselves.
However, gender is significant in the choice of a personal pronoun to replace a noun:
Here the choice of pronoun is determined by the sex of the person being referred to. However, this distinction is lost in the plural:
Gender differences are also manifested in possessive pronouns (his/hers) and in reflexive pronouns (himself/herself).
When the notion of sex does not apply -- when we refer to inanimate objects, for instance -- we use the pronoun it:
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