Common nouns

A noun is a word that refers to a person (such as Britney or teacher), a place (such as Australia or country), a thing (such as Kia Sportage or car) or idea.

Nouns can be divided into two categories.
Common nouns and proper nouns.
Proper nouns

A common noun is a noun that is not the name of a specific person, place, thing or idea. Common nouns usually don’t  begin with a capital letter, unless they start a sentence.
A proper noun names a specific person, place, thing, or idea. Proper nouns are written with a capital letter.

For example ‘teacher’, ‘country’, and ‘car’ are common nouns, while  ‘Britney’, ‘Australia’ and ‘Kia Sportage’ are proper nouns.

Compare common nouns with proper nouns

Common noun
Proper noun
Mark Twain
The River Thames
Katz's Delicatessen
Earl Grey
Coca Cola

Types of common nouns

There are two types of common nouns: abstract nouns and concrete nouns

Abstract nouns

Abstract nouns refer to things that we cannot sense. They are not real physical objects. Many abstract nouns are usually uncountable. 'Beauty', 'fear', and 'kindness' are abstract nouns.

Concrete nouns

Concrete nouns are things that we can see and feel. Table, cat, bread and noise are all concrete nouns because we can see, touch, smell, taste or hear them. Concrete nouns can be countable or uncountable.

Countable noun

Countable nouns are nouns that have singular and plural forms. For example, animal (animals), chair (chairs), books (books), child (children).

Uncountable noun

Uncountable nouns are nouns that cannot be made plural. In the phrase ‘a glass of water’, there are two common nouns – one countable and one uncountable.

Common nouns can include collective nouns and compound nouns.

Collective nouns

Collective nouns refer to groups of people, animals or things. ‘Family’ and ‘team’ are examples of collective nouns.

Compound nouns

Compund nouns are nouns made up of two or more different words, for example, ‘fire engine’, 'bathroom', and 'sister-in-law'.


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