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Nouns are an open class of words (new nouns come into the language continuously). There are subsets of nouns, though, like pronouns, that are closed classes.
Most nouns, especially common nouns, can be preceded by a determiner like the indefinite article "a, an" or the definite article "the."
Some noun dichotomies:
Mass nouns (which take the definite article but resist the indefinite, and don't have plurals unless they're being used in the restricted sense of "types of" or the stuff in question): rice, advice, sand, mud, coffee, water, grass, wood, beer, money, blood, chocolate, traffic, baggage, dust, foliage, laughter, oil, salt, sugar; and in some senses, stone, rope, oak, maple, pine, chicken, fish. Mass nouns may be preceded by "much," "less," "a lot of."
Count nouns (which take either article, have plurals, and of course can take numerals as determiners, because as the name suggests you can count them): dog, cat, bird, horse, leaf, badger, building, car, street, dollar, man, woman, child, book. Count nouns may be preceded by "many" or "few" in the plural.
Some nouns are plural only: vermin, police, people, cattle, grits, oats, woods, troops, customs; some are "bipartite" or "dual only": pants, scissors, glasses, slacks, shorts
Proper nouns don't usually take determiners or have plurals, except in restricted senses (where there's more than one Werner Herzog at the wedding, for instance). Pronouns do not take determiners, but have plurals. Mass nouns take the definite article determiner but have no plurals; count nouns take determiners and have plurals. Non-proper nouns are called "common nouns."
Nouns (like other "content" or "lexical" words) have a core denotation (the exact concept they specify) but also connotations that vary greatly according to cultural context and personal association: so that September means fall in New England, summer in Texas, spring in New Zealand.
Nouns can be simple/unpredictable (funnel, syringe, brush, rouge, pencil, spatula, whisk) or composite/predictable (toothbrush, night cream, concealer, eggbeater, eggtimer, bicycle, salt shaker). Sometimes a word looks simple but is composite historically or cross-culturally (helicopter, biscuit). Sometimes a word looks composite but really isn't (pineapple).