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Common Noun (Definition, Examples, and Proper Noun Comparison)

What is a common noun? And how can I tell which is a regular noun or a common noun? Is there a difference? What about the difference between a common and proper noun, how does that work?

Get answers to these questions and more in this simple grammar worksheet…

What is a common noun?

The most common part of speech that you will find in the English language is a common noun.

Simply put, a common noun refers to the name of any person, thing, place, or anything in a group or category. Furthermore, this is a known name, not specific to the person, thing, place, etc.

Common noun example
Common noun example

Common nouns can be abstract (like qualities and ideas) or concrete (tangible things).

Common nouns can be collective in nature as well.

This represents a collection or a group.

It’s important to note that every noun is usually an object or person, or place.

A common noun is not one of these, while a proper noun is specific to a particular thing, place, person, etc. Let’s break this down.

Examples in sentences

Here are some good examples to display common nouns:

  • All women love jewelry, and they love necklaces best.
  • Lisa had a Cheshire cat that loved drinking milk.
  • A dog is a faithful animal, but a cat or a hamster may be a different story.
  • Billy is a successful climber who has achieved much by climbing Mount Everest.
  • If the doorbell doesn’t work, be sure to use the door knocker.

Are common nouns lowercase or uppercase?

Unless a common noun begins a sentence, it is never uppercase. Assigning lowercase letters and capitals to words is a perennial issue and getting this right is critical to understanding the basics of the English language.

Frequently, spelling errors get created because they don’t use upper and lower cases appropriately.

Some common nouns, such as a president, may mislead you to think it requires a capital letter, for example.

This is because the word represents a person of authority. Unless the word is placed before the name of a particular president, the word does not start with a capital “p”.

Common noun example
Common noun example

Examples in sentences

Here are some instances of incorrect and correct sentences:

Incorrect sentence – The King is the ultimate Monarch and Ruler.

Correct – The king is the ultimate monarch and ruler.

Incorrect sentence – What is a Common Noun?

Correct sentence – What is a common noun?

Incorrect sentence – The term of president Theodore Roosevelt began in 1901.

Correct sentence – The term of President Theodore Roosevelt began in 1901.

Incorrect sentence – I was lucky to be invited to the governor’s ball this saturday.

Correct – I was lucky to be invited to the Governor’s Ball this Saturday.

Incorrect sentence – Einstein and Hubble theorized about the universe’s Cosmological Expansion.

Correct sentence – Einstein and Hubble theorized about the universe’s cosmological expansion.

Common noun
Common noun

Difference between common nouns and proper nouns

The distinguishing factors between proper and common nouns are generally easy to decipher.

When you use nouns in speech, it does not make any difference whether any noun is common or proper. This is because the syntax of speech isn’t influenced by them.

Common noun example
Common noun example

Every word that names something can be categorized as proper or common nouns. A common noun means a thing, a person, a place. A common noun is generic noun word form.

Here are examples of common nouns:

  • castle
  • novel
  • film
  • song
  • boy

Examples of proper nouns:

A proper noun is a specific and precisely unique name for something, as shown below:

  • Hampton Court
  • Paris
  • Jack and Jill
  • War and Peace (a novel)
  • Rihanna
Common NounProper Noun
Man, BoyHenry
Woman, GirlMary
Book, FilmGoodwill Hunting
Month, Day of the WeekJanuary, Wednesday
CompanyTesla, SpaceX

What is the most common way to form the plural of a noun and a common noun?

As you may have already guessed, the most common way to form any plural is simply by adding an “s” at the end of a noun. Look at the following examples:

  • “Boat” becomes “boats”
  • “House” becomes “houses”
  • “Dog” becomes “dogs”
  • “River” becomes “rivers”
  • “Girl” becomes “girls”

Although, there are some caveats. You cannot simply add an “s” to any common noun.

Highlighted below are some rules for making nouns pluralized:

  • When singular nouns end in the letters s, z, x, sh, or ch, the plural is made by adding “es” to the singular. Examples: bus (buses), church (churches), box (boxes), wish (wishes), etc.
  • When singular nouns end with consonants (any letters that are not vowels) and a “y”, the plural is formed by adding “ies” and dropping off the “y”. Examples: story (stories), spy (spies), daisy (daisies), etc.

Some irregular nouns may not follow any of the rules mentioned, like woman. Woman changes to “women,” and person becomes “people.”


What’s the difference between common and proper nouns?

With the two main types of nouns – proper and common – we can differentiate between the two by saying that a common noun is a general way of classifying something, and a proper noun is a specific way of classifying something

What are abstract nouns?

Abstract nouns are ideas or concepts you can’t see, hear, smell, taste, or touch.

Can there be a proper noun equivalent for a common noun?


What are common noun examples?

Mug, Ocean, New York.

What are countable nouns?

Countable nouns refer to individual items that can be counted or weighed. Uncountable nouns are the opposite.

Do you capitalize proper adjectives after a common noun?

Yes, you should always capitalize proper adjectives after a common noun.

More on nouns

More resources about nouns:


  1. What is a Common Noun? | Grammarly
  2. What is a Common Noun? Definition, Examples of Common Nouns – Writing Explained
  3. What is a Common Noun? – Definition & Examples – Video & Lesson Transcript | Study.com
  4. What Is a Common Noun? | Definition & Examples (scribbr.co.uk)

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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

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