What are Common Nouns?

Common nouns are names which are general in nature, not specific or unique names.

They can be...

  • names of people - man, woman, child, boy, girl (not Joseph, Jane, Anita, David or Dolly)

  • names of animals - dog, cat, elephant (not Rex, Rani or Jumbo)

  • names of places - city, village, river, mountain, country (not Colombo, Cannanore, River Indus or Mount Everest)

  • names of things - soap, apple, chair, aeroplane (not Lux, Golden Delicious, Neelkamal or Boeing).

From the examples above, you must have understood what common nouns are. They are general names. The names given within brackets belong to a different class of nouns called proper nouns because they are specific names.

How Important Are Common Nouns?

Whenever we want to say something, we say it about someone or something. That someone or something, called the subject of a sentence in grammar, will have a noun or a pronoun as its most important word.

Common nouns, being general or ordinary names, are more frequently used in the subject than the other type of nouns, namely proper nouns, which are names of specific or unique things.

How Can We Recognize Common Nouns?

The first letter of a common noun is not capitalized except if it is the first word in a sentence.

  • We bought six chairs.
  • Chairs are expensive.

Being uncapitalized is an external sign for recognizing a name as a common noun, except when the word starts a sentence.

Common Noun Types?

There are two types:

  1. Countable Nouns

    Sometimes you will find the name count nouns). These are names of people, places, or things that can be counted (e.g. student, teacher, book, chair, city, village.

  2. Uncountable Nouns

    A better name is Mass Nouns - sometimes also called Non-count Nouns. These cannot be counted (e.g. milk, water, furniture, gold, wood, glass, work, information).

For Further Reading and Study...

Related Pages

What is a Noun?

Kinds of Nouns

Common Nouns

Proper Nouns

Collective Nouns

Concrete and Abstract Nouns

Countable Nouns

Forms and Functions