What Are Common Nouns? (with Examples)Everything we can see or discuss is represented by a word that names it. That word is called a noun.
A common noun is the word for something (e.g., boy, cat, lake, bridge). It is different from a proper noun, which is the name we give to something (e.g., Peter, Lucky, Lake Superior, The London Bridge).
All nouns can be categorized into one of two groups: common nouns and proper nouns.
This page is about common nouns, but it is worth learning about common nouns and proper nouns at the same time.
A More Formal Definition of Common NounA common noun is used for a class of person, place, or thing. (A proper noun is used for a specific person, place, or thing.)
Examples of Common Nouns and Proper NounsHere are some examples of common nouns and proper nouns:
|Common Noun||Proper Noun|
|ocean||The Atlantic Ocean|
Common Nouns Do Not Get Capital LettersUnless it starts a sentence or is part of a proper noun, a common noun is not written with a capital letter. Look the following examples (common nouns shaded):
- That boy wants to play with Simon. (Simon is a proper noun. It's the name of a specific boy. The word boy is a common noun.)
- I love looking at old bridges. Can we visit Tower Bridge? (Tower Bridge is a proper noun. It's the name of a specific bridge. The word bridge is a common noun.)
- Sparks Meadow Mineral Water is the best-tasting still water. (Sparks Meadow Mineral Water is a proper noun. It's the name of some specific water. The word water is a common noun.)
Categories of Common NounsEvery common noun can be categorized as at least one of following types of common noun:
- An Abstract Noun. Abstract nouns are things you cannot see or touch (e.g., hate, happiness, determination).
- A Collective Noun. Collective nouns describe groups (e.g., jury, team, school).
- A Compound Noun. Compound nouns are nouns made up of more than one word (e.g., paperclip, court-martial, sister-in-law).
- A Concrete Noun. Concrete nouns are things you can see or touch (e.g., table, cup, rain).
- A Countable Noun. Countable nouns are ones with a singular and plural form. They are things you can count. (e.g., pen (pens), wall (walls), animal (animals)).
- A Non-countable Noun (mass nouns). Non-countable nouns are things you cannot count (e.g., air, music, oxygen).
- A Gender-specific Noun. Gender-specific nouns are things which are definitely male or female (e.g., vixen, waitress, actress).
- A Verbal Noun (gerund). Verbal nouns represent actions (e.g., writing, dancing, thinking).