Proper And Common Nouns

This page was first created on the 11th of April, 2014 and last updated on the 11th of March, 2016 by Patrick Carpen.

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Photo Thanks To:
http://www.freeimages.com/photo/building-3-1234556

Tags: Parts of Speech, Nouns, English Grammar.

A noun is a word that names a person, place, thing or idea. Because there are so many nouns in the English language, there are many kinds of nouns. In this lesson, we will look at two types of nouns: the proper and the common noun.

We say that a noun is the name of a place, therefore, the word country is a noun. We say that the noun is the name of a place, therefore the word Canada, is a noun.

The word country, and the word Canada both name places but there is a difference. The word country could refer to any of the hundreds of countries in the world. On the other hand, Canada is the name of one particular country. So then, by definition, a common noun is a noun that names a general person, place, thing or idea. A proper noun is a noun that names a particular person, place, thing or idea.

Telling the difference between a proper and a common noun can be confusing sometimes. A noun is any word in a sentence which names a person, place, thing or idea. We are told that a common noun is a noun which can refer to any of a large group of persons, places, things or ideas while a proper noun singles out one person, place, thing or idea.

For example, we have the noun “village”. There are thousands of villages in the country of Guyana, for example. So, it follows that the word “village” is a “common noun”. But if I say “Hampshire village”, you can put your finger on the map and say “here it is!” Hampshire Village singles out one special village, so it is called a proper noun.

If I say, give a dog a bone, you may give the bone to any of the world’s dogs. But if I say give the bone to Rover, you know that is one special dog. You will look for the dog Rover and give Rover the bone. Rover singles out one special dog. Therefore, Rover is a proper noun.

If I say, “we’re going to a country this summer”, you may wonder what country I am talking about. There are over two hundred countries in the world. But if I say “we are going to Canada this summer”, you know exactly where on the world map we are going. Canada singles out one special country from hundreds of countries. Canada is a proper noun.

Here are some points to ponder:

Mango may single out one “fruit” but the word “mango” is still a common noun because there are often hundreds of “mangoes” on a tree. We don’t give names to each mango on a tree. If we did, then that name would be a proper noun.

Dog may single out one animal but the word “dog” is still a common noun because there are still millions of dogs in the world.

Therefore, we conclude that a proper noun is a noun which names something that is so special, that only one of it exists in a particular location.

For example, a family may have three dogs, but only one named rover.

A village may have 20 streest, but only one named “King Street”

A country may have many rivers, but only one named the “Takutu River”.

Lethem may have many hotels, but only one named “Amazonas hotel”.

Here are some more examples:

Common noun: boy; Proper noun: Robert

Common noun: girl; Proper noun: Mary

Common noun: country; Proper noun: Russia

Common noun: state: Proper noun: New York

Common noun: language; Proper noun: English

Common noun: television; Proper noun: Sharp

Common noun: movie; Proper noun: The Terminator

Common noun: book; Proper noun: A Time To Love

Common noun: school; Proper noun: West Arizona District High School

Common noun: man; Proper noun: Van Damme

Common noun: movie star; Proper noun: Mel Gibson

Common noun: supermodel: Proper noun: Paris Hilton

Common noun: river; Proper noun: Hudson River

Common noun: country; Proper noun: Berbice

Common noun: town; Proper noun: Rose Hall

Common noun: city; Proper Noun: Georgetown

Common noun: village; Proper noun: Albion

Common noun: street; Proper noun: Ramphal Street

Common noun: writer; Proper noun: Patrick Carpen

Common noun: manufacturer; Proper noun: Ford Motor Company

Common noun: cookbook; Proper noun: The Platinum Pumpkin Cheesecake Maker’s Handbook

Common noun: singer; Proper noun: Selena Gomez

Common noun: song; Proper noun: Slow Down

Common noun: album; Proper noun: Stars Dance

Common noun: disciple; Proper noun: John

Common noun: car; Proper noun: Toyota AT120

Common noun: motorcycle; Proper noun: Jailing 125 GY

Common noun: bicycle; Proper noun: BMX

Common noun: hardware store; Proper noun: N. James & Sons

Here are some other examples:

Common Noun 

Cat

Man

Woman

Street

Car

River

Hotel

School

Ocean

Sea

Disciple

  Proper Noun

Cindy

Richard

Candy

King Street

Mercedez

Takutu River

Amazonas Hotel

St. Ignatius Secondary

The Pacific Ocean

The Dead Sea

Peter

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