Person, place, thing or idea
As we turn now to focus on nouns, I am pleased to point out that we are not starting from square one. We have yet to talk about the grammar of nouns, but we have had many nouns within our vocabulary words. In fact, if you have been keeping up with the vocab, you already know more than 150 nouns!
A noun is a person, place, thing or idea. In Hebrew, nouns have two main grammatical details—gender and number. This is, of course, different than English which does not give nouns a grammatical gender. But the concept is not hard to understand.
A noun like אִישׁ (“man”) naturally has a gender of masculine whereas the noun אִשָּׁה (“woman”) is predictably feminine. However, in Hebrew, all words have a gender, not only those with a masculine or feminine nature. So, for example, עִיר (“city”) is feminine. This grammatical gender in no way suggests masculine or feminine qualities in the meaning of the word (cities do not thereby possess femininity), but is simply a grammatical dynamic in Hebrew. The importance of grammatical gender in nouns is found in the reality that this gender aids us in identifying which verbs and adjectives in the sentence connect to this noun. (We saw an example of this in discussing the commands in the song קוּמִי אוֹרִי
As regards form, feminine nouns generally end with an a-class vowel + ה, or with a ת. As for the plural, Hebrew uses two different endings to indicate this. Masculine nouns typically are made plural with the ים ending whereas feminine nouns typically take the וֹת plural ending which replaces the final ה or ת.