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Nouns can play three basic functions in a sentence:
Some refer to these as “Subject Complements”.
Nouns as subjects Joe built the house Joe built the house, after he had finished his swim. “ What a great idea!” yelled Joe.
Nouns as Objects Joe built the house. We were hiding under the road. Joe built what? Try asking “what?” “ house” is the object of the verb “built”. Under what? “ road” is the object of the preposition “under”. Any verb that has an object is called Transitive .
Nouns as Predicate Nominatives We are good people. “ are ” is a linking verb. Linking verbs do not take objects. They are ALWAYS intransitive. “ We are” what? Hence, “people” is the predicate nominative of the verb “are”.
News Flash: You cannot determine the case of a noun from its spelling!
Nominative Case RULE: A noun is in the nominative case when its function is either subject or predicate nominative (sometimes called “subject complements”). Joe built the house. “ Joe” is the subject of the verb “built”. It is nominative case. “ house” is the object of the verb built. It is not nominative case.
Nominative Case Cont. Joe is a good feller. Linking verb “ Feller” cannot be an object because linking verbs never take objects. Feller is a predicate nominative and is therefore in the nominative case. NEWSFLASH: Many people will identify “feller” as the object of the verb “is” forgetting that “is” is a linking verb and is never transitive. Some people call predicate nominatives “subject complements”
Objective Case RULE: A noun is in the objective case when its function is any kind of an object. Joe played the drums. “ drums” is the object of the verb “played”. Since it is the object of the main verb, it is usually called a “direct object”. It is in the objective case. This makes the verb “played” transitive .