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Inanimate Noun

Term Definition
Inanimate Noun

Inanimate nouns refer to things that are not alive. In contrast, animate nouns indicate living people, animals, and other organisms such as "woman," "boy," and "cat

Introduction to inanimate nouns

So, you want to know more about what an inanimate noun is. 

This glossary entry is specifically here in order to help you with that. Learning about grammatical terms, including the inanimate noun, can help you become a more successful writer and student. 

The inanimate noun basically refers to any noun that is not alive or sentient

Grammatically, in English, an inanimate noun is generally referred to with the pronoun it, as opposed to the pronouns he or she. (Click here to learn more about pronouns.) 

In some languages, whether a noun is an animate noun or an inanimate noun can also affect verb conjugations. 

Rules for using inanimate nouns

Here is an example of the inanimate noun being used correctly within a real sentence. 

"Whenever the scientist thought about the machine, he felt a somewhat euphoric emotion, due to the fact that he had created it." 

In this sentence, machine is an inanimate noun that is being used in a correct way. 

Now, here is an example of an inanimate noun being used incorrectly within a sentence. 

"Whenever he thought about the woman, he felt a somewhat euphoric emotion, due to the fact that he was in love with it." 

The pronoun "it" here is inappropriate, since the woman is clearly not an inanimate noun. 

Just in case you still need more information about the inanimate noun, here are a couple rules you can follow in order to make sure that you know all there is to know.

1. The inanimate noun always refers to objects that are not alive or sentient. So, just ask yourself this simple question, and you can usually figure out whether the noun is animate or not. This can be called determining whether a given object does or does not have the property of animacy.  

2. Sometimes, whether a noun is an inanimate noun can be a difficult call to make. For example, many animals are often referred to with the pronoun "it", since they aren't as sentient as humans. Likewise, an inanimate noun can sometimes become metaphorically animate through the literary device of personification

3. Don't be afraid to ask for help! Using essay writing services and getting help from a professional writer with intimate knowldge of inanimate nouns is a sure-fire way to ensure your use of them is correct. 

Conceptual background 

The concept of the inanimate noun is related to hierarchy within language. More specifically, it is related to how people tend to assign differential values to the various objects that they perceive within their environment. An inanimate noun is cut off from its animate counterparts through grammatical differences in pronouns and verb conjugations; and this is reflective of the way in which people tend to assign greater weight in their perceptions to the animate objects around them than to the inanimate objects. A living person, for example, is never an inanimate noun; and living persons tend to take up the lion's share of most people's attention. 

The line between the inanimate noun and the animate noun, although seemingly straightforward, can sometimes blur as a result of how exactly certain objects in the world are perceived by a given person. For example, a robot can be an inanimate noun ("it") if one is focusing on its machine-like qualities; but it can also become an animate noun ("he" or "she") if one is focusing on its human-like qualities, of if the given speaker has a strong emotional attachment with the robot. Likewise, animals, although sentient, are often referred to with the inanimate noun form—unless, again, a given speaker has some kind of emotional attachment to the animals.

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Synonyms: inanimate-noun

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