Using Nouns in English

There are several rules one must follow when using nouns in English. The punctuation rules differ slightly from language to language. Some languages capitalise every noun where as some languages do not. To look at types of nouns, let’s first refresh our memory.

WHAT IS A NOUN?

A noun is a name of a person, place or object.

In English, we do not capitalise common nouns. We only capitalise proper nouns and words that begin a sentence.

WHAT IS A COMMON NOUN?

A common noun is a thing that is not special.

A common noun is a thing that is not special.

This is because it has no individual value. It has no individual value because there are lots of them in the world. For example, there are lots of chairs in the world. This means that the word ‘chair’ is not special and so the noun must be common. There are also lots of humans in the world.  Although humans are amazing, there is a vast amount of them in the world. This means the word ‘human’ is also not special and therefore a common noun.

Using Nouns in English - What is a Noun - chairs - common nouns - Simply Better Enlighs
An example of a common noun: chair – Simply Better English

Here is a list of some objects or things that are classed as common nouns:

  • Everyday objects (pencil, pen, computer, money, coin)
  • Everyday objects (cutlery, fork, spoon, knife)
  • Shapes (circle, square, rectangle, triangle)
  • Vehicles (bus, motorbike, car)
  • Organs (heart, liver, lungs)
  • Places (road, street)

WHAT IS A PROPER NOUN?

Proper nouns are special.

This is because there is only one of them. For example, there is only one country called England. This means that the word ‘England’ is a proper noun.

Like in many languages, when using nouns in English, the names of people are capitalised too. Although there may be many people called David in the world, each David is special in his own way. Therefore, we need to capitalise the names of people.

As I stated above, the word ‘road’ is a common noun because there are lots of roads in the world. If we are discussing roads, in general, they are not capitalised. On the other hand, if we are talking about a specific road, we need to give that road a capital letter. I would need to ensure the roads ‘Leafy Road’ and ‘Hillfoot Road’ are given a capital letter.  (The same rule applies for the name of places that end with square, avenue or street.)

Here is a list of some objects/things that are also classed as proper nouns.

  • Places (Continents Countries, States, Counties)
  • Places (Landmarks)
  • People (When you use their name)
Famous Landmarks - Simply Better English
Famous Landmarks – Simply Better English

Here is a list of some people, places and objects. Group the objects into proper nouns and common nouns. Then check below to see if you are correct.

Note: make sure you capitalise the proper nouns.

List

  • colouring pencil
  • shirt
  • cherry lane
  • blanket
  • emirates stadium
  • anna
  • eiffel tower
  • bottle
  • madison square garden
  • shoes
  • david
  • chicago

Answers

Common Noun
Proper Noun
colouring pencil Anna
Blanket Eiffel Tower
Shoes Madison Square Garden
Bottle Cherry Lane
David
Chicago
Emirates Stadium

Quiz Sign - Simply Better English
Quiz Sign – Simply Better English

Write out the sentences below and correct the mistakes. Then scroll down to check your answers.

  • The church, called St john’s, is huge.
  • The boy ate the juicy Apple.
  • Today, I visited buckingham palace.
  • I travelled on the Bus.
  • I had to restart my Computer.
  • The family lives on Abbey road.
  • Finally, I visited times Square.

Answers

  • The church, called St John’s, is huge.
  • The boy ate the juicy apple.
  • Today, I visited Buckingham Palace.
  • I travelled on the bus.
  • I had to restart my computer.
  • The family lives on Abbey Road.
  • Finally, I visited Times Square.

Tip: always remember when using nouns in English, we must capitalise the proper nouns and remember that we do not capitalise the common nouns.

How did you score on our quiz? Leave your answers in the comment below!

Want more help correcting your grammar? Check out Grammarly. Or how about learning more about adverbs?

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