What Is A ‘Common Noun’?
If you want to understand what a common noun is, you should first know the difference between a common noun and a proper noun. Every proper noun has a common noun equivalent while not every common noun has a proper noun equivalent.
Examples Colorado (proper noun) → state (common noun)
Sally (proper noun) → girl (common noun)
A noun is a word that names a person, animal, thing, place, etc. Common nouns are words that name general things or items rather than specific ones. Actually, common nouns can be seen in everything and all nouns can be further classified as a common noun. Common nouns are the basic ones to be clear.
Common nouns names people, animals, things, etc. but what you need to know is; if you use a common noun, this means you don’t give a piece of exact information about which people, which animal or thing you’re referring to.
If you say ‘woman’, which is a common noun, this means you are not being specific. You are talking about a woman in general. But, if you say ‘Jennifer’ for example, the woman becomes specific and it turns into a proper noun.
In conclusion, ‘woman’ is a common noun because of its generality.
Where to capitalize a common noun?
The rule is very easy, you shouldn’t capitalize the common noun unless it begins the sentence. We don’t usually capitalize the common noun. Also, do not get confused is you see a common noun which consists of two words.
You can see the difference between proper nouns and common nouns again in the matter of capitalization. Proper nouns are normally capitalized in every situation.
She has a car and its brand is Mercedes. (‘car’ is a common noun and it is not capitalized, but Mercedes, which is a specific brand of car, is a proper noun and you should capitalize the word.)
Common Noun Examples
As we have learned before, common nouns are used for indicating a class of objects or things. According to this information, anything that is a thing, not a specific one, can be generally classified as a common noun. We can offer you some examples in terms of its field.
Objects and things : pencil, phone, car, shoe, dress, plate, glass, mirror, etc.
Professions : teacher, doctor, volleyball player, lawyer, painter, singer, police, actress, actor, salesman, etc.
- Do not forget that people are named using common nouns, but if we think about their professions or their given names, sometimes these nouns can be used as proper nouns.
My father is a lawyer. (common noun)
Father John gave me his keys to the garage. (proper noun)
Animals : cat, lion, dog, bird, etc.
Places : park, tennis court, shop, market, beach, city, state, etc.
- Ideas, emotions, and experiences can also be recognized as common nouns : love, hate, culture, pride, envy, peace, laughter, hatred, etc.
Common nouns in a sentence examples
- There is an old lady (common noun) living across the street, and her name is Betty (proper noun).
- He is my best playwright. (common noun) Shakespeare is the best playwright of all time. (proper noun)
- I want to go to the theatre. (common noun)We went to the City Theatre. (proper noun)
- The dog was barking in our backyard through the night. (common noun)
- She is the only football player in our class. (common noun)
- Let’s go to the beach at the weekend. (common noun)Let’s got to Palm Beach for the weekend. (proper noun)
- I’ve never seen a magician before. (common noun)
- I need to see a doctor. (common noun)I need to see Doctor Frank. (proper noun)