Okay, I admit it, I don't know what a noun is

My brain is broken now. I admit defeat. I do not know what a noun is. My current understanding was a person place or thing and the vocabulary book I'm working through has broken me. Penurious is an adjective. One could say that a student is penurious. This makes sense. Penuriousness is a noun. But why? I'm missing a link and it is rattling my brains.

2 answers answer to the question Okay, I admit it, I don't know what a noun is

JavaLatte updated 22 December
Maybe it would be better to start with a simple word, like good. Good is an adjective. If we describe something as good, it has features of some kind that make it desirable. But what are those features? Well, it depends what the thing is. Good food is tasty, nutritious, etc. A good person does good things. A feature is a noun: if we want a noun to describe a good feature, we put -ness on the end of an adjective, and we get goodness. Penurious is an adjective: if a person has no money, we can say that he or she person is penurious. If we want to talk about the state of having no money, we need a noun: put -ness on the end, and penuriousness is that noun. Adding -ness isn' always the right thing to do though: the word penury is a noun, and is changed to an adjective buy adding the -ous ending to make penurious. So we don't need to adding -ness in this case- we can simply cut some letters off to get back to a noun (penury).
Alex updated 9 March
You see, English is a bit more complicated than having just people, things and places as nouns. If you dive into the dictionaries, you will easily find that a quality, without a link to someone in particular, can be a noun. Same goes for character traits, occurrences and much more. The adjective “penurious” is no different. See, if we forget about the links of an adjective to its noun, we will get a trait, a fact, that is a noun itself. Dictionary allows us to use both penury and penuriousness as nouns, though the first one I would call slightly more popular. If we shift the facts around a little bit and assume that penurious student can be called a student that is used to penury or experiences one at the moment. That student can also experience happiness, sadness and plenty other occurrences and feelings and all of those would be nouns while we try to describe them.
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