In the world of grammar, some words do double-duty by serving as more than just one part of speech. Though we often spend a good deal of time drilling students on the big differences between nouns and verbs, some words can actually be both. In fact, it happens more often than you might think, and once you start to notice this phenomenon, you’ll see these special words everywhere.
The Difference Between Nouns and Verbs
A quick refresher: Nouns are words that represent a person, place, thing or idea. They often serve as the subject of a sentence; that is, the thing that performs an action. For example:
The girl hugged the cat.
In this sentence, the girl is a noun that stand for a person, and the person is performing the act of hugging.
Notice that there’s another noun in the sentence, too: cat. This noun is not performing the action but is instead being acted upon. This noun is the object.
Verbs, on the other hand, are the action words in a sentence. In the above example, hugged is the verb, or the action the girl performs. Verbs come in all sorts of tenses,but their function is always the same: to show what’s happening in the sentence.
When Nouns and Verbs Collide
Some words can be used as both nouns (things) and verbs (actions). Their usage may sometimes change their pronunciation, but it’s often simply context clues that make all the difference in your understanding. For example:
In this sentence, the first use of “attack” is a noun; the second is a verb. “Attack” is pronounced the same in both cases.
Though the boy tried to use his broken alarm clock as an excuse, the teacher would not excuse his absence on the day of the final exam.
In the sentence above, the first use of “excuse” is a noun; the second is a verb. Note that the pronunciation of the word changes depending on its usage. As a noun, “excuse” uses a softs “s” sound, but as a verb it uses a “z” sound instead.
A List of Verbs That Are Also Nouns
Though it’s hardly a complete list, you can share hundreds of examples of words that are both nouns and verbs with your students. Try these on for size:
Want to print a practice worksheet? Nouns that are also verbs worksheet
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