Nouns are the first part of the total 8 parts of a speech that form the grammar in the English language. It is the primary prerequisite that constructs the main parts of a sentence and also the first chapter that would be taught to children. One must understand how to correctly differentiate and use nouns. There are two types of nouns depending on what entity they describe in a sentence: Proper nouns and Common nouns.
Proper Noun vs. Common Noun
The main difference between a proper noun and a common noun lies in the entity they are describing. A common noun is used to describe a class of entities that can be an object, person, animal, etc. whereas a proper noun is used to describe a specific entity, that can be an object, person, or animal, instead of the general class term.
Difference Between Proper Noun and Common Noun in Tabular Form
Parameters of Comparison
Any general term that is used to describe a specific entity is a proper noun.
Any general term that is used to describe a class of objects is a common noun.
The objective of a proper noun is to deliver the specific description of an entity.
The objective of a common noun is to deliver just the structure or quality that describes the noun.
Proper noun usually appears at the beginning of a paragraph in a sentence but also can be used anywhere in the sentence to describe entities for the first time.
Common nouns can appear anywhere in the sentence, typically after the proper noun used to describe the entity first.
A proper noun must always begin with a capital letter regardless of what entity is being described.
A common noun does not come with the requirement of capitalization every time it is used in a sentence.
Proper nouns do not have any sub-categories that they are further divided into.
Common nouns are divided into five categories that the entity they are describing can fall into.
Proper nouns will describe the specific entities like Venice, Taylor Swift, Star wars, etc.
Common nouns will describe general classes of objects like cities, Singers, Movies, etc.
What is a Proper Noun?
Popper nouns are terms that point towards a specific noun, i.e., name, place, animal, or an object instead of describing a general class or group of entities. It is usually established that proper nouns must always begin with a capital letter and usually sit at the beginning of a sentence. They are also mostly just singular nouns.
Examples of Proper nouns:-
- Captain Jack Sparrow
- Pride and Prejudice
Rules While Using The Proper Noun
A proper noun must always begin with a capital letter. This is a very common mistake and thus, people must be careful about the grammar rules to make it easier for the reader or whoever the receiver is. Recent times have seen modern generations using capitalization only to emphasize the required areas in a sentence to tell the receiver what is important. However convenient this might be in the environment of social media conversations, it has gradually affected the way people, especially teens, develop academic and professional writing skills. Such papers need a good amount of professionalism to be followed to improve readability and meet the required academic standards.
Let us look at a few instances where the proper noun needs to be capitalized
- When the writer wants to describe directions i.e., East, West, North, South, etc. But this must only be done if the direction is a part of the name of any established location. Eg:- Western Ghats, Southern Sea, South-East Asia, etc.
- All the days and months must be capitalized with no exception. Eg:- June, September, Thursday.
- All the season must be capitalized only when used to denote a certain name i.e., part of another proper noun. Eg:- I wrote a book called ‘Summer High’. In any other case, capitalization is not required unless the term lies at the beginning of the sentence.
- Professions: All the professions must be represented with a capital letter when used while describing someone. Eg:- I now invite, President Sundar Kishan, to step onto the dais.
- Languages/Dialects: All terms that describe languages must bed described with no exception to the rule. Eg:- English, Malayalam, French, Hindi, Marathi, Telugu, Australian English, American English, etc.
- Countries/Nationalities: Nations and their Nationalities, just like the previous rule, must be capitalized without any exception. Eg:- India, Britain, South America, Indonesian, Australian, etc.
- Historical periods/events: Many of you must have already noticed how great battles, wars, or eras that carry historical importance or have been recorded in the book and have proven to be accurate are always denoted with capital letters. Eg:- The Great Indian Revolt, The Mughal Era, Salt March, The Rennaisance, etc.
- Brands: Brand names must always begin with a capital letter. Eg:- Gucci, Lenovo, Titan, Giva, etc.
- Relationships: When proper nouns are used to denote relationships, it can be quite tricky to identify if they are proper nouns or if they require capitalization or not. This however depends on both the reader and the listener’s relation to the popper noun and each other.
For instance, when one says, ‘Please tell Dad I’ll return in the evening’, it denotes that both listener and the reader are related to the noun proper noun and thus there is only one specific person they are referring to. But when one says, ‘ My friend’s dad is very protective.’, it means that it is being used as a common noun and not a proper noun, hence capitalization is not required.
What is a Common Noun?
Common nouns, as previously explained, are terms that are used to define a general class of entities without any sort of specification, Thus they describe just a type of person or animal. Place or object instead of a particular thing that is generally the only entity that could be described by that name. Thus common nouns do not point to any particular object unless used by an appropriate determiner. There are five types of common nouns.
Examples of Common Nouns:-
Types of Common Noun
As the name explains, countable nouns are those that can be measured and have an absolute quantity. They are not necessarily just singular or just plural but more distinct units that can be amounted by a number. A few examples of such nouns in plural are:
- Eight plants
- Twelve eggs
- Twenty four hours
- Twenty-one million dollars
- Ten kilograms of rice
- Three thousand miles
However, singular countable nouns must always be preceded by a determiner that clarifies extra information about the subject being described. Few of such determiners are an, a, the, this, that, my, our, one, which, etc. Some examples of such singular nouns are:
- An apple a day.
- That sweater is mine.
- Our house is on sale.
- The roof is red.
- A thousand scarfs, here thousand is plural but it is just ‘one’ thousand that we used in a sentence. Since it is only ‘one’ thousand, we precede it with a determiner. However, if we have more than one thousand, we can go by the general rule for common nouns and there is no need for a determiner again.
Again, as the name explains, uncountable nouns are those nouns that cannot be absolutely measured. There is no certain number that you can allot to them or any general unit i.e., cannot be quantified by a number. Thus, they are preceded or used with words such as some, a lot, many, much, little, etc.
- I just need a little sun.
- We have much work to do.
- I am experiencing some discomfort.
- There are a lot of decorations.
However, to make a sentence clear and comprehensible to the reader or the listener, we don't necessarily have to use these words but also relevant words such as:
- Plenty of snow
- Head full of hair
- Tons of pain
- Loads of work
- Lots of water
- Heavy downpour of rain
Collective nouns are those terms that are used to describe a group of entities or a unit that eventually describes a group. Singular nouns are those that are a group or a unit whereas plural forms are those that are used to describe more than one unit. In fact, ‘group’ is also a collective noun in itself. A few examples of such collective nouns are:
- The school went on a picnic.
- The squad is taking a break.
- The jury will begin the session.
- He must belong to the herd.
- The class and subclasses of the gene are still unclassified.
- The residency is safe and secure.
- The entire troupe has been very excited about this competition.
- The faculty of the Electronics and Communications Department will be conducting a potluck on the day of the festival.
Here it is clear that we are not trying to address any single or individual entity but the whole group as a whole and thus must be used in relevant situations.
Concrete nouns describe those terms that can be physically experienced through the sense i.e., by sight, sound, taste, smell, or touch. This means, that all the tangible entities can be categorized under this category of concrete nouns. These nouns do not exactly have to be common and can also be proper nouns. A concrete noun does not stand to be exclusive to other categories except for an abstract noun, of which it is the complete opposite. This means that a concrete noun can also be countable, uncountable, or collective nouns, they can be either singular or plural. Few examples of such concrete nouns are:
- A block of cheese
- A computer
- Two feet
- Few grams of salt
- A fleet of birds
- A pair of eyes
- Plenty of water
Abstract nouns are those terms that are used to define everything that cannot be described or experienced through the five senses i.e., they cannot be seen, heard, smelled, touched or tasted. They can only be felt or thought of. Thus they can be feelings, states of being, concepts or ideas, traits, emotions, etc. They can also be called the exact opposite of concrete nouns since they can not be touched or held. Thus they are a stark contrast. However, they can be countable or uncountable. A few examples to describe abstract nouns are:
- He was distraught looking at the aftermath.
- The memories came flooding back to her.
- They chanted slogans in the rally, promoting their concepts of peace and harmony.
- She was filled with sympathy after watching the video.
- Autocracy is not as widespread as democracy.
- They broke the company’s trust by breaking the pact.
- Her intelligence and maturity were way advanced for her age.
Main Differences Between Proper Noun and Common Noun In Points
- Proper noun describes a specific entity whereas a common noun only describes a general class of entities with no specification.
- The purpose of a common noun is to describe the term without any specification and thus is used only in a situation where it is enough to denote the class or group the certain entity belongs to whereas a proper noun is used in situations that require appropriate specification for the reader to understand.
- Proper noun usually occurs at the beginning of a sentence when compared to a common noun but both these nouns can be placed anywhere in a sentence.
- Proper nouns must always begin with a capital letter, following the appropriate rules whereas common nouns do not have any obligation to be capitalized.
- Proper nouns do not have any types whereas common nouns are usually categorized into five or six types.
- A few examples to describe proper nouns are Venice, Star wars, and Shawn Mendes whereas those that can describe a common noun are Cities, Crowd, Movies, Books, Beverages, etc.
From the above discussions, we can summarize that proper nouns describe entities with a certain sense of specification whereas commons nouns do not require specification but instead use general terms of description.