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Proper nouns

A proper noun is a word that is the name of a person, a place, a thing, etc. For example, your name (Ronaldo), the name of the city you live in (Berlin), and the brand of your mobile phone (Sony) are proper nouns. Remember that common nouns refer to a class of person, place or thing. For example, man, city and mobile phone are common nouns.

Proper nouns

See also: Common nouns

Common noun
Proper noun


Proper nouns are always written with a capital letter, e.g. John, London, Pepsi. In English, days of the week, months of the year, and holidays are always capitalized, e.g. Monday, January, Thanksgiving Day. Note that seasons of the year are not capitalized.
The definite article ‘the’ is not capitalized in proper nouns unless it is the part of the name.

Common and proper nouns

These two categories of nouns are distinct from each other. A common noun is the name of a class of person, place, or thing.
Examples: girl, boy, city, village, table, book
A proper noun is the specific name of a person, place or thing.
Examples: Anna, Paul, Hartford, Old Avon Village
A common noun does not begin with a capital letter unless it is the first word of a sentence. A proper noun always requires capitalization.

I’d asked every student in the class but only David came.
student=common noun, David=proper noun
Raul has been a responsible employee.
Raul=proper noun, employee=common noun
She speaks a language similar to Arabic.
language=common noun, Arabic=proper noun

Articles with proper nouns

As a general rule, we don’t use an article with proper nouns. But there are exceptions to this rule.We use the definite article with names of people or places made plural with ‘s’: the Clintons, the United States, the Alps. If a company name contains company, corporation or foundation, we use the: the Ford Motor Company. We use the definite article for names of large regions, oceans or rivers: the Atlantic Ocean, the Mississippi River.

Categories of proper nouns

  • Names and titles of people: Winston Churchill, Doctor Smith
  • Names of companies: Microsoft, Google, Samsung
  • Titles of books, films, works: Crime and Punishment, Batman
  • Holidays: Christmass, Easter, Ramadan
  • Geographical locations: Africa, England, Mount Everest
  • Language names: Chinese, English
  • Buildings, structures and places: Central Park, the Willis Tower
  • Religious terms: Catholic, God, Allah, Islam


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