Nouns are an integral part of English speech, perhaps second only to verbs. It’s hard to say much without using a word.
There are different types of English nouns. It is often helpful to see what a noun is because different types sometimes have different rules. This helps you to use them effectively.
Common nouns and proper nouns
Many common nouns are common. Common names refer to people, places, and things in general such as a chair or a dog. Any name other than the name is a common noun.
Examples: teacher, car, music, risk, receipt
Have you seen my dog?
Books are on your desk.
… the pursuit of happiness.
Names of people, places, or organizations are appropriate names. Your name is a proper name. London is the right name. The United Nations is a fitting name.
Rule: Proper nouns always start with a capital letter.
Examples: Jane, Thailand, Sunday, James Bond, Einstein, Superman, Game of Thrones, Shakespeare
Let me introduce you to Mary.
The capital of Italy is Rome.
He is the chairman of the British Broadcasting Corporation.
I was born in November.
Note: The adjectives we make in proper nouns also begin with a capital letter, for example Shakespearian, Orwellian.
Names Concrete and Abstract Nouns
Physical nouns are tangible things you can touch.
Examples: man, rice, head, car, furniture, cell phone
How many stars are there in the universe?
Have you ever met James Bond?
Pour water down the drain.
Abstract names contradict concrete names. They are things you can’t touch. Abstract nouns are ideas, concepts and feelings.
Examples: happiness, courage, danger, truth
He has great power.
Who killed President Kennedy is a real mystery.
Sometimes it takes courage to speak up.
Their lives were full of sorrow.
Runaway Names and Non-Run Names
Names of Refugees
(also called counting nouns)
You can count running names. The running nouns have singular and plural forms.
Examples: ball, boy, cat, person
I only have five dollars.
The earth was built 4.6 billion years ago.
There are many people but we do not have a car.
Nouns do not go down
(also called plural nouns)
You cannot count innumerable names. You need to use “word measurement” rating.
Rule: We have never used countless nouns with an unknown phrase (a / an). Countless nouns remain singular.
Examples: water, joy, cheese
Do you have money?
Air-conditioners use a lot of electricity.
Am I doing any work?
Most Asians eat rice.
Names have been collected
A compound noun refers to a group of people.
Examples: class (group of students), pride (group of lions), staff (group of sailors)
Rule: Collected nouns can be treated as singular or plural. More about this in the rules of verb contraction and compound nouns.
His family lives in different countries.
A typical family consists of four people.
The new company is the result of a merger.
The board of directors will meet tomorrow.
A compound noun is a noun made up of two or more words. Most nouns combined are [noun + noun] or [adjective + noun]. Each compound noun acts as a single unit and can be replaced with adjectives and other nouns.
Combined nouns have three different types:
open or separated – space between words (bus stop)
hyphenated – hyphenated between words (mother-in-law)
closed or tight – no space or link between words (ball)
Examples: cat food, board, breakfast, full moon, washing machine, software
Can we use a swimming pool?
They stop working at sunset.
Don’t forget to get out at 12 noon.