a noun as a verb

AJ   Fri Aug 25, 2006 8:00 am GMT
How do you decide whether a noun can be used as a verb or not?
Is it just your experience of having heard of a usage from people around you?

Do you usually use a noun as a verb or you reject to use a noun as a verb if possible?
Pabz   Fri Aug 25, 2006 5:26 pm GMT
I think nouns that are words for things that DO things can often be used as verbs. For example:

Telephone your mother.
Hammer the nail.
Bike to work.

But, as to whether it sounds correct or not, I think is a matter of experience. For example, nobody says:

I'm going to car to the store.

I think one of the good things about English is its flexibility in being able to use nouns as verbs and adjectives. For example you can say:

I own a bike. ("bike" is a noun)
I bike to work. (verb)
My bike tire is flat. (adjective)

In the romance langauges you are more likely to have to say:

I own a bike.
I ride (or pedal etc.) my bike to work.
The tire of my bike is flat.

On the other hand, English has touble using adjectives as nouns. For example in Spanish you can say: "Give me the red" where in English you would have to say "give me the red one" or "give me the red bike", etc.
T. Webster   Fri Aug 25, 2006 7:23 pm GMT
As far as I know, there is no formula that tells you which nouns can function as verbs. I do know, however, that most verbal nouns are concrete--that is, they can be touched or seen.

If you want to master the use of nouns as verbs, I would urge you to follow the very good advice that Pabz gave: gain further experience in the language. Only then will you be able tell which nouns are commonly used as verbs and which nouns are not.

Still, do not be afraid to get creative. If you think a certain noun vivifies your sentenece if you use it as a verb, then use it. Most of the time the sense of what you say will be perfectly clear. Take for example this sentence from Shakespeare's "King Lear": "I'll... elf all my hair in knots..." Now before I read this I had never heard the word "elf" used as a verb. But when I came across this line for the first time, I had no trouble understanding it.