Proper and Common Nouns for intermediate learners

Did you know there are two kinds of noun: common nouns and proper nouns. Common nouns refer to general nouns and proper nouns refer to specific nouns.

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"Proper and Common Nouns" in English Grammar

What Are Proper and Common Nouns ?

In English, we have two kinds of nouns. One group refers to general things and the other refers to specific things or people. Take a look at the list below:

  • Common Nouns
  • Proper Nouns

Common Nouns

When we want to talk about a general item or thing, we use a common noun. Words such as a cat, dog, chair, desk, computer, pencil, etc are all common nouns. Pay attention to the following examples:

I saw a black cat in the street yesterday.

As you can see, the highlighted words refer to general things.

Julia wants to sleep on the sofa right now.

Tip!

It is useful to know that common nouns are categorized into many different groups but two most useful of these groups are countable and uncountable nouns. Look at the following examples:

The doctors are not sure about the situation.

As you can see, 'doctor' can be counted and here the sentence is talking about two or more doctors.

I can see five fish in the lake.

Here, the sentence is about five fish but the noun 'fish' is not countable.

Common nouns are only capitalized when they come at the beginning of the sentence. Look at the following examples

My mother is feeling better.

Doctors have terrible hand writings.

Proper Nouns

When we want to talk about specific things, people, animals, or places, we use proper nouns. Names of people, streets and locations, pets, countries, days of the week, and months of the year are all proper nouns. Take a look at the following examples:

Angelina Julie is a caring actress.

As you can see, the sentence is referring to a specific celebrity.

Where will you be on Monday?

Warning!

Please note that whenever we want to address people by their job titles, we can use proper nouns and they must be capitalized. Look at the following examples:

Good evening, Doctor!

As you can see, the sentence is addressing the person by their job title.

The doctor said that I must rest.

Here, we are talking about a doctor and he/she is not specifically addressed.

Proper Nouns and 'The'

We normally do not use the definite article 'the' with proper nouns except for when it is part of the noun or when we want to talk about an organization, a company, etc. Pay attention to the following examples:

The United States of America is supporting Ukraine in the war.

As you can see, 'the' is always added to 'United States of America'.

The Louvre Museum is open till 6 p.m.

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