Proper Nouns & Common Nouns


These name specific people, places, things, or ideas.

Britney, Paris, Rover, Nike

Since these nouns are naming specific things, they begin with a capital letter.

Sometimes, they contain two or more important words.

Britney Spears, Central Park Zoo, Pacific Ocean

If this is the case, both important words are capitalized, and the whole thing is still considered to be one proper noun even though it's made up of more than one word. How about that?


Common nouns are your run-of-the-mill, generic nouns. They name people, places, things or ideas that are not specific.

woman, city, dog, shoe

Since these nouns are not naming anything specific, they do not need to start with a capital letter unless they begin a sentence.

Psst! If you need a refresher on nouns, see the nouns page.

Their Relationship

Every proper noun has a common noun equivalent, but not every common noun has a proper noun equivalent.

For example, dust is only a common noun. There is no specific kind of dust, so it's just common.

What Can They Do?

Both of these kinds of nouns can perform many jobs in sentences (subject, direct object, indirect object, object of the preposition, predicate nominative).

Here are some examples of all of these noun jobs.

Subject: The students happily studied grammar.

Direct Object: The students happily studied grammar.

Indirect Object: They taught their friends grammar.

Object of the Preposition: Their friends smiled with glee.

Predicate Nominative: They were grammar champions!

Diagramming Sentences

Sentence diagramming is an effective and fun way to learn grammar, so what are you waiting for? Try it!

If you want to teach or learn grammar the easy way, then follow a step-by-step program that clearly lays everything out for you and allows you to move at your own pace. The Get Smart program is presented in a logical sequence, so it's not an overwhelming mishmash of information. Before you know it, you'll be a grammar and sentence diagramming pro!

The whole program is online, so you have instant access to these lessons and videos. It's easy and fun. You can get it at
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Elizabeth O'Brien is the creator of the Grammar Revolution step-by-step grammar and sentence diagramming programs. Her programs are guaranteed not only to teach you grammar, but also to give you more confidence in your communication skills.

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Now you know all about common and proper nouns. 
Go back to the parts of speech page.

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