Nouns generally refer to people, places, things, or concepts, e.g., woman, Scotland, book, intelligence. Nouns can appear after determiners and adjectives, and can be the subject or object of the verb, as shown in Table 5-2.

Table 5-2. Syntactic patterns involving some nouns


After a determiner

Subject of the verb


the woman who I saw yesterday ...

the woman sat down


the Scotland I remember as a child ...

Scotland has five million people


the book I bought yesterday ...

this book recounts the colonization of Australia


the intelligence displayed by the child ...

Mary's intelligence impressed her teachers

The simplified noun tags are N for common nouns like book, and NP for proper nouns like Scotland.

Let's inspect some tagged text to see what parts-of-speech occur before a noun, with the most frequent ones first. To begin with, we construct a list of bigrams whose members are themselves word-tag pairs, such as ((' The', ' DET'), (' Fulton', 'NP')) and (('Fulton', 'NP'), ('County', 'N')). Then we construct a FreqDist from the tag parts of the bigrams.

>>> word_tag_pairs = nltk.bigrams(brown_news_tagged)

>>> list(nltk.FreqDist(a[1] for (a, b) in word_tag_pairs if b[1] == 'N')) ['DET', 'AD]', 'N', 'P', 'NP', 'NUM', 'V', 'PRO', 'CN]', '.', ',', 'VG', 'VN', ...]

This confirms our assertion that nouns occur after determiners and adjectives, including numeral adjectives (tagged as NUM).

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