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Proper Nouns

What is a Proper Noun?


Proper nouns have two distinct features: They name specific one-of-a-kind
items, and they begin with capital letters, no matter where they occur
within a sentence. Here, well take a closer look at proper nouns, provide
proper noun examples, and help you learn how to use a proper noun the
right way.
Remember that all nouns are words naming people, animals, places,
things, and ideas. Every noun can be further classified as either common
or proper. The distinction is very easy to make once you see some
examples and come up with a few of your own.
Proper Noun Examples
In the following sentences, proper noun examples are compared with
common nouns. Notice that the proper nouns are specific and unique,
while the common nouns are much more general in nature.
Common noun: I want to be a writer.
Proper noun: Agatha Christie wrote many books.
Common noun: Id like to adopt a cat.
Proper noun: Cleopatra is the cutest kitten ever.
Common noun: Would you like a cookie?
Proper noun: Im craving Oreos.
Common noun: Lets go to the city.
Proper noun: Lets go to San Francisco.
Common noun: My teacher starts work before sunup.
Proper noun: Mr. Bell seems to understand what students need.
Common noun: I think thats a planet, not a star.
Proper noun: I can see Jupiter tonight.
Common noun: Hes always hanging out with his girlfriend.
Proper noun: He never goes anywhere without Sarah.
Common noun: There are a lot of important documents in the archives.
Proper noun: There are many important documents at The Library of
Congress.
How to Use Proper Nouns
Its easy to use proper nouns, once you know what they are. Simply place
them in your sentences as you would common nouns, ensuring that you
capitalize them. Here are some examples to help you get started.

Brett had hoped for an easy teacher for his algebra class, but he got Ms.
Boggs, whose unreasonable demands and short temper made the
semester unbearable.
Teacher is a common noun. Ms. Boggs is a proper noun.
Gloria had a craving, and not just any cookie would do. She went to the
store and bought a box of Oreos.
Cookie is a common noun. Oreos is a proper noun.
We wanted to try a new restaurant, so we went to Taste of Thai.
Restaurant is a common noun. Taste of Thai is a proper noun.

Proper Noun Examples


Identify the proper noun in each sentence:
The boy threw the ball to his dog, Wilson.
Id like you to meet my friend Jeremy.
Well be vacationing in Aspen this year.
My second grade teacher was Mrs. Gilbert, an old battle-axe.
We went to Smiths Furniture and bought a new couch to replace our old
one.
Do you think the Dolphins will win the game?
Im flying first-class on Emirate Airlines.
Thomas Jefferson was a president and philosopher.
My best friend moved to Israel to study.
When the Titanic sank, the captain went down with the ship.
Answers: 1 Wilson, 2 Jeremy, 3 Aspen, 4 Mrs. Gilbert, 5 Smiths
Furniture, 6 Dolphins, 7 Emirate Airlines, 8 Thomas Jefferson, 9
Israel, 10 Titanic

Common Noun
At some point, everyone has the same question: What is a common noun?
Here, well take a look at common nouns and provide some common noun
examples so you can easily recognize common nouns when you see them.
Dont worry, this will be painless.
What is a Common Noun
A noun is a word that names a person, animal, place, thing, or idea. All
nouns can be further classified as proper or common. Common nouns are
words used to name general items rather than specific ones. Go into your
living room. What do you see? Lamp, chair, couch, TV, window, painting,
pillow, candle all of these items are named using common nouns.
Common nouns are everywhere, and you use them all the time, even if
you dont realize it. Wherever you go, youll find at least one common
noun. Street, closet, bathroom, school, mall, gas station; all of these
places are named using common nouns.
People in general are named using common nouns, though their official
titles or given names are proper nouns. When we refer to people using
common nouns, we use words like teacher, clerk, police officer, preacher,
delivery driver, boyfriend, girlfriend, grandma, cousin, and barista.
The takeaway is this: common nouns are general names and unless they
are part of a title like Postmaster General or begin a sentence, theyre not
usually capitalized.
Common Noun Examples
The following common noun examples will help you to recognize common
nouns. In the sentences that follow, common noun examples are italicized.
Notice that the examples providing proper nouns name specific versions
of the same type of person, animal, place, thing, or idea.
Common Noun: You broke my favorite mug. Proper Noun: I cant believe
you broke my Snoopy mug.
Common Noun: I really want a new pair of jeans. Proper Noun: I really
want to buy a new pair of Levis.
Common Noun: I wish I could remember the name of that painter. Proper
Noun: I really love art by Van Gogh.
Common Noun: Theyre all waiting for us at the restaurant.Proper Noun:
Everyone else is at Bills Burgers.
Common Noun: I really want to live in a big city someday.Proper Noun: Of
all the places Ive lived, Denver was best.
Common Noun: Lets go to watch a live game at the stadium.Proper Noun:
Lets try to get good seats at Wrigley Field.
Common Noun Exercises

Choose the common noun or the phrase containing the common noun to
fill in each blank.
Id really like some ____________ after lunch.
Entenmanns chocolate cake
Vanilla pudding with coconut
Marie Callenders peach pie
Breyers ice cream
I received ______________ from my grandmother today.
A copy of War and Peace
A photo of Abraham Lincoln
A handmade sweater
A pack of Trident gum
Please call ____________.
Jennifer
The police
Aunt Sally
Smiths department store
_______________ brought our drinks promptly.
Simon
Rinaldi
The waiter
A flight attendant named Sarah
I heard that ________________ is going to San Francisco in May.
My cousin
Bernard
Wilson
The whole Nuggets baseball team
Answer Key:
B
C
B
C
A

Id really like some vanilla pudding with coconut after lunch.


I received a handmade sweater from my grandmother today.
Please call the police.
The waiter brought our drinks promptly.
I heard that my cousin is going to San Francisco in May.

Types of Nouns
There are several different types of nouns used to name people, animals,
places, things, and ideas. Here, well take a quick look at various types of
nouns so you can recognize them when you see them and use them
appropriately in sentences.
Types of Nouns in English
Nouns are among the most important words in the English language
without them, wed have a difficult time speaking and writing about
anything. This guide to noun types is intended as a basic overview. Every
type of noun comes with its own rules, so be sure to read more in our
pages about specific types of nouns.
Abstract Nouns
Abstract nouns are those referring to ideas, concepts, emotions, and other
things you cant physically interact with. You cant see, taste, touch,
smell, or hear something named with an abstract noun. Some abstract
noun examples are included in the following sentences.
Success seems to come easily to certain people.
His hatred of people smoking indoors is legendary.
She has an incredible love for nature.
This is of great importance.
He received an award for his bravery.
Collective Nouns
When talking about types of noun, its important to remember collective
nouns. A collective noun is a word that refers to a group. It can be either
singular or plural, but is usually used in the singular. Some collective noun
examples are included in the following sentences.
Our team is enjoying an unbroken winning streak.
Theres a pack of hyenas outside.
Watch out for that swarm of bees.
You havent lived until youve seen a herd of wild horses.

Our class graduates two years from now.

Common Nouns
Common nouns are used to refer to general things rather than specific
examples. Common nouns are not normally capitalized unless they are
used as part of a proper name or are placed at the beginning of a
sentence. Some common noun examples are included in the following
sentences.
Be sure to pick a top university.
Stack those boxes carefully.
Would you like a cookie with your coffee?
People are strange.
My dog wont stop barking.
Concrete Nouns
Concrete nouns are words used for actual things you can touch, see, taste,
feel, and hear things you interact with every day. Notice that concrete
nouns can also be countable, uncountable, common, proper, and
collective nouns. Some concrete noun examples are included in the
following sentences.
Please remember to buy oranges.
Have a seat in that chair.
Proper noun

Countable and Uncountable Nouns


In English grammar, countable nouns are individual people, animals,
places, things, or ideas which can be counted. Uncountable nouns are not
individual objects, so they cannot be counted. Here, well take a look at
countable and uncountable nouns and provide both countable noun
examples and uncountable noun examples. Although the concept may
seem challenging, youll soon discover that these two different noun types
are very easy to use.

Countable Noun Examples


Anything that can be counted, whether singular a dog, a house, a friend,
etc. or plural a few books, lots of oranges, etc. is a countable noun. The
following countable noun examples will help you to see the difference
between countable and uncountable nouns. Notice that singular verbs are
used with singular countable nouns, while plural verbs are used with plural
countable nouns.
There are at least twenty Italian restaurants in Little Italy.
Megan took a lot of photographs when she went to the Grand Canyon.
Your book is on the kitchen table.
How many candles are on that birthday cake?
You have several paintings to study in art appreciation class.
Theres a big brown dog running around the neighborhood.
Uncountable Noun Examples
Anything that cannot be counted is an uncountable noun. Even though
uncountable nouns are not individual objects, they are always singular
and one must always use singular verbs in conjunction with uncountable
nouns. The following uncountable noun examples will help you to gain
even more understanding of how countable and uncountable nouns differ
from one another. Notice that singular verbs are always used with
uncountable nouns.
There is no more water in the pond.
Please help yourself to some cheese.
I need to find information about Pulitzer Prize winners.
You seem to have a high level of intelligence.
Please take good care of your equipment.
Lets get rid of the garbage.

Uncountable nouns can be paired with words expressing plural concept.


Using these words can make your writing more specific. Here are some
examples of how to format interesting sentences with uncountable nouns.
Garbage There are nine bags of garbage on the curb.
Water Try to drink at least eight glasses of water each day.
Advice She gave me a useful piece of advice.
Bread Please buy a loaf of bread.
Furniture A couch is a piece of furniture.
Equipment A backhoe is an expensive piece of equipment.
Cheese Please bag ten slices of cheese for me.
Countable and Uncountable Nouns Exercises
Is the underlined noun countable or uncountable?
The children fell asleep quickly after a busy day of fun.
Be careful! The water is deep.
The parade included fire trucks and police cars.
We like the large bottles of mineral water.
My mother uses real butter in the cakes she bakes.
How many politicians does it take to pass a simple law?
Most kids like milk, but Joey hates it.
Most pottery is made of clay.
Michael can play several different musical instruments.
I was feeling so stressed that I ate an entire box of cookies.
Answers: 1 countable, 2 uncountable, 3 countable, 4 countable, 5
uncountable, 6 countable, 7 uncountable, 8 uncountable, 9
countable, 10 countable

Plural Nouns
Plural nouns are words used to indicate that there is more than one
person, animal, place, thing, or idea. The difference between singular and
plural nouns is simple once you know what to look for. Here, we take a
look at singular and plural nouns, providing both singular nouns examples
and plural noun examples to help you recognize plural nouns when you
see them.
What is a Plural Noun
The answer is a relatively easy one, as grammar goes. A plural noun is a
word that indicates that there is more than one person, animal place,
thing, or idea. When you talk about more than one of anything, youre
using plural nouns. When you write about more than one of anything, you
usually use the same word, simply adding an s, es, or ies to the end.
There are a few exceptions to this rule, but not many one of the best is
that a single moose is a moose, and a group of moose are still moose.
Singular and Plural Nouns
The difference between singular and plural nouns is easy to spot. When a
noun indicates one only, it is a singular noun. When a noun indicates more
than one, it is plural.
Singular Noun Examples
The following sentences contain singular nouns examples.
The boy had a baseball in his hand.
My horse prefers to wear an English saddle.
That cat never seems to tire of jumping in and out of the box.
You stole my idea and didnt give me any credit.
Your mom is going to be upset about that broken lamp.
Its not difficult to grow a tree as long as you give it plenty of water.
I cant believe you let your dog stick his head out the window while you
drive.
Plural Noun Examples
The following sentences contain plural noun examples.
The boys were throwing baseballs back and forth between bases.
Our horses are much happier wearing lightweight English saddles.
Those cats never seem to tire of chasing one another in and out of those
boxes.
You stole my ideas and didnt give me any credit.

Our moms are going to be upset that we stayed out all night going to
parties.
Its not too difficult to grow trees as long as you provide them with plenty
of water.
I cant believe you allow your dogs to climb all over the seats while you
are driving.

Compound Nouns
What are compound nouns? Here, well take an up-close look at compound
nouns so you can recognize them when you see them, plus well provide
you with some compound noun examples that will help you use them
effectively.
What is a Compound Noun
Compound nouns are words for people, animals, places, things, or ideas,
made up of two or more words. Most compound nouns are made with
nouns that have been modified by adjectives or other nouns.
In many compound nouns, the first word describes or modifies the second
word, giving us insight into what kind of thing an item is, or providing us
with clues about the items purpose. The second word usually identifies
the item.
Compound nouns are sometimes one word, like toothpaste, haircut, or
bedroom. These are often referred to as closed or solid compound nouns.
Sometimes compound nouns are connected with a hyphen: dry-cleaning,
daughter-in-law, and well-being are some examples of hyphenated
compound nouns.
Sometimes compound nouns appear as two separate words: full moon,
Christmas tree, and swimming pool are some examples of compound
nouns that are formed with two separate words. These are often referred
to as open or spaced compound nouns.
Compound Noun Examples
The more you read and write, the more compound noun examples youll
encounter. The following sentences are just a few examples of compound
nouns. Compound noun examples have been italicized for easy
identification.
Compound nouns can be made with two nouns:

Lets just wait at this bus stop.


I love watching fireflies on warm summer nights.
While youre at the store, please pick up some toothpaste, a six-pack of
ginger ale, and some egg rolls.
Compound nouns can be made with an adjective and a noun:
Lets watch the full moon come up over the mountain.
Please erase the blackboard for me.
Compound nouns can be made with a verb and a noun:
Be sure to add bleach to the washing machine.
Lets be sure to stay somewhere with a swimming pool.
Compound nouns can be made with a noun and a verb:
He always gets up before sunrise.
I really could use an updated hairstyle.
Compound nouns can be made with a verb and a preposition:
Checkout is at noon.
Please remember to schedule your dogs annual check-up.
Compound nouns can be made with a noun and a prepositional phrase:
My mother-in-law is the kindest person I know.
Compound nouns can be made with a preposition and a noun:
Do you believe in past lives?
This city is vibrant, so its hard to believe it has a thriving criminal
underworld.
Compound nouns can be made with a noun and an adjective:
We need a truckful of mulch for the garden.

Collective Nouns
Collective nouns are names for a collection or a number of people or
things. Words like group, herd, and array are collective noun examples.
Here, well take a closer look at collective nouns, and provide even more
examples, placing them in context so you can gain a greater
understanding of how they work.
What is a Collective Noun
You might not know it, but you encounter collective nouns in everyday
speech. Collective nouns are words for single things that are made up of
more than one person, animal, place, thing, or idea. You cant have a team
without individual members; even so, we discuss a team as a single entity.
Collective Noun Examples
Remember that nouns are words naming people, animals, places, and
things. Collective nouns are in a class all their own. Once youve read
these examples, youll find it much easier to recognize collective nouns
when you see them.
class
herd
jury
team
army
council
family

group
audience
How to Use Collective Nouns
People who are new to writing often encounter some trouble with
sentence agreement when using collective nouns. This is understandable,
because a collective noun can be singular or plural, depending on a
sentences context. How do you know if a collective noun is singular? How
can you tell if its plural? What pronouns and verbs are best for pairing
with the collective noun youve chosen?
Heres a simple trick you can use to decide how to use collective nouns in
sentences: Imagine a herd of zebras grazing peacefully on the savanna.
Suddenly, a lion jumps out of a clump of tall grass. What do the zebras
do? They run away as a single unit as they attempt to make a getaway,
galloping across the savanna in the same direction.
Often, people behave in the same way, engaging in a single activity in
unison with everyone else in their group. When individuals are in a team,
a choir, a committee, or part of any other collective noun, that noun is
singular and is paired with singular pronouns and singular verbs. As you
read the examples that follow, notice that each individual who is part of
the collective noun is doing the same action at the same time as others
who are part of that collective noun.
Every morning, the herd follows its leader to the watering hole for a drink.
Herd is a singular collective noun. Follows is a singular verb, and the
word its is a singular pronoun. All the animals in the herd arrive at the
watering hole at the same time.
Today, Ms. Kennedys class takes its SOL test.
Class is a singular collective noun. Takes is a singular verb, and the
word its is a singular pronoun. All the students in Ms. Kennedys class are
taking the same test at the same time.
The committee agrees that people are misusing their cell phones, so its
verdict is that phones must not be used during working hours.
Committee is a singular collective noun. Agrees is a singular verb, and
the word its is a singular pronoun. All the members of the committee are
thinking alike.
Now imagine three teenagers in the living room. Are they all doing the
same thing at once? Not likely! One is watching TV intently. Another is
reading a book and listening to music. The third has one eye on the TV
and the other on his computer. There is a single group of teenagers, but
the members of the group are doing different things.

Members of collective nouns can act the same way, as individuals doing
their own thing. When members of a collective noun act as individuals,
that collective noun is plural and must be paired with plural pronouns and
plural verbs. As you read the following examples, youll notice that
members of the collective noun are not functioning in unison.
After eight hours sitting in the stuffy courtroom, the jury stretch, look at
their watches, and head to their cars for the commute home.
Jury is a plural collective noun in this instance. Stretch, look, and head
are plural verbs, and their is a plural pronoun. The members of the jury
are stretching and looking at their individual watches before they head to
different cars to go to their own homes.
After taking a test, the class start their papers on Shakespeares sonnets.
Class is a plural collective noun in this instance. Start is a plural verb,
and their is a plural pronoun. Although the students are in the same class,
they are beginning their own papers on different sonnets written by
Shakespeare.
What happens if you cant decide whether a collective noun is singular or
plural?
You can use different words to compose your sentence to be sure there is
no agreement error. For example, you can insert the word members
after a collective noun or use a different word such as players instead of
team or zebras instead of herd or students instead of class.
Reread what you have written to be sure it sounds natural, and give
yourself some time to practice. Soon enough youll be able to use plural
verbs without worrying whether you have made mistakes.