The Beginner's Guide to Grammar

Our Free Guide Gives You A Fun Way To Teach & Learn The Basics

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The Beginner's Guide to Grammar

Our Free Guide Gives You A Fun Way To Teach And Learn The Basics

Download the guide

Proper Nouns & Common Nouns

Oh, goody! It's time to learn about proper nouns and common nouns.

You probably already know what a noun is, but I'm still going to give you a little refresher! Nouns are words that name people, places, things, or ideas, and there are many different types of nouns. In this lesson, we'll go over two types.

Proper Nouns

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

Britney, Paris, Rover, Nike

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

Sometimes, they contain two or more important words.

Proper nouns name SPECIFIC people, places, things, or ideas.

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 noun even though it's made up of more than one word. How about that?

Common Nouns

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 aren't naming anything specific, they don't need to start with a capital letter unless they begin a sentence.

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

Common nouns name NON-SPECIFIC people, places, things, or ideas.

Their Relationship

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

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

Look! It's A Proper Noun & Common Noun Chart!

What Can They Do?

Both of these kinds of nouns can perform many jobs in sentences. Below, you'll find five noun jobs. (All of the nouns in these example sentences are common.) 

These examples also include sentence diagrams. Sentence diagrams are pictures of sentences that basically make the grammar in the sentence visual. That sounds kind of strange, but it's true. Figuring out a sentence's diagrams is like solving a puzzle. Diagrams are a great way to learn grammar!

1. Subject The students happily studied grammar.

Sentence Diagram of Subject Noun

2. Direct Object The students happily studied grammar.

Sentence Diagram of Direct Object Noun

3. Indirect Object They taught their friends grammar.

Sentence Diagram of Indirect Object Noun

4. Object of the Preposition Their friends smiled with glee.

Sentence Diagram of Object of the Preposition Noun

5. Predicate Nominative They were grammar champions!

Sentence Diagram of Predicate Noun

I hope that was helpful. You can always learn more about nouns on our what is a noun page.

Elizabeth O'Brien from Grammar Revolution

Hello! I'm Elizabeth O'Brien, and my goal is to get you jazzed about grammar.

Thank you for your website. It helps solidify my attempts at getting my students thrilled about proper grammar! 

- Marie, Teacher

If you want to teach or learn grammar the easy way, follow our step-by-step program that clearly lays everything out and allows you to move at your own pace. The Get Smart Grammar 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. It's easy and fun. Learn more at

Keep learning and have fun!

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Elizabeth O'Brien is the creator of Grammar Revolution.

Her lessons are guaranteed to give you more confidence in your communication skills and make you smile. :)