Common Nouns

What Are Common Nouns? (with Examples)

Everything we can see or discuss is represented by a word that names it. That word is called a noun.

A common noun is the word for something (e.g., boy, cat, lake, bridge). It is different from a proper noun, which is the name we give to something (e.g., Peter, Lucky, Lake Superior, The London Bridge).

All nouns can be categorized into one of two groups: common nouns and proper nouns.

This page is about common nouns, but it is worth learning about common nouns and proper nouns at the same time.

A More Formal Definition of Common Noun

A common noun is used for a class of person, place, or thing. (A proper noun is used for a specific person, place, or thing.)

Examples of Common Nouns and Proper Nouns

Here are some examples of common nouns and proper nouns:
Common NounProper Noun
carFord Focus
lakeLake Baikal
materialHarris Tweed
oceanThe Atlantic Ocean
restaurantBurger King
soldierCorporal Jones
teaEarl Grey

Common Nouns Do Not Get Capital Letters

Unless it starts a sentence or is part of a proper noun, a common noun is not written with a capital letter. Look the following examples (common nouns shaded): .

Categories of Common Nouns

Every common noun can be categorized as at least one of following types of common noun: .

A Quick Test

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See Also

Proper nouns Glossary of grammatical terms