This page was first created on the 11th of April, 2014 and last updated on the 11th of March, 2016 by Patrick Carpen.
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:
St. Ignatius Secondary
The Pacific Ocean
The Dead Sea