Proper Nouns & Common Nouns

Proper Nouns & Common Nouns

It's time to learn about proper nouns and common nouns. Are you ready? Great!

common nouns and proper nouns chart

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. There are many different types of nouns, and in this lesson, we'll go over two of them: common and proper. 

Learning about common nouns will help you understand proper nouns, so let's focus on common nouns first, and then we'll see what the relationship is between them. 

Common Nouns

Common nouns name people, places, things or ideas that are generic.

woman, city, dog

Notice that we don't know exactly which woman, city, or dog we're referring to. 

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

Proper Nouns

These are nouns that name specific people, places, things, or ideas.

Maya, Paris, Rover

Do you see how these are different? Maya is naming a specific woman, Paris is naming a specific city, and Rover is naming a specific dog. 

Since these nouns are naming specific things, they always begin with a capital letter. Sometimes, they contain two or more important words.

Maya Angelou, 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. These are called compound nouns. How about that?

Their Relationship

Every proper noun has a common noun equivalent.

Proper --> Common

Kleenex --> tissue

Honda Odyssey --> van

V8 --> juice

However, not every common noun has a proper noun equivalent.

Common --> Proper

hand --> -

dirt --> -

space --> -

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
Elizabeth O'Brien

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