Most commonly, nouns are naming words, such as, the names of people, places or things. e.g. Lucy, France, pen.


Common and Proper Nouns

Nouns which name specific people or places are known as Proper Nouns.

Lucy Fields

John Lucus


Taj Mahal

Pacific Ocean


Proper nouns begin with a capital letter and refer to specific dates or times, such as the days of the week – Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday or religious festivals, observance or holidays e.g. Christmas, Ramadan,  Kwanzaa, Thanks Giving.

All other nouns are Common Nouns.


Abstract and Concrete Nouns

Whereas concrete nouns  such as music, painting, building, table, chair, can be perceived with one or more of the senses, abstract nouns denote the intangible, concepts, ideas, qualities, feelings or characteristics,  such as happiness, imagination, freedom, courage.

Singular and Plural Nouns – Noun Endings

-er/-or actor, painter, plumber, writer
-ism criticism, egotism, magnetism, vandalism
-ist artist, capitalist, journalist, scientist
-ment arrangement, development, establishment, government
-tion foundation, organisation, recognition, supposition


The plural of regular nouns is formed by adding -s to the singular:










However, there are many irregular nouns which do not form the plural in this way:











 Plural noun decision tree


We can recognise many nouns because they often have a determiner in front of them – thea, or an:

the car

an artist


the egg



Nouns may take an -’s (“apostrophe s“) to indicate possession: 

the boy’s pen

spider’s web

my girlfriend’s brother

John’s house

If the noun already has an -s ending to mark the plural, then the genitive marker appears only as an apostrophe after the plural form:

the boys’ pens

the spiders’ webs

the Browns’ house

The genitive marker should not be confused with the ‘s form of contracted verbs, as in John’s a good boy (= John is a good boy).


Nouns often co-occur without a genitive marker between them:

rally car

table top

cheese grater

University entrance examination


Since proper nouns usually refer to something or someone unique, they do not normally take plurals. However, they may do so, especially when number is being specifically referred to:

there are three Davids in my class

we met two Christmases ago


For the same reason, names of people and places are not normally preceded by determiners the or a/an, though they can be in certain circumstances:

it’s nothing like the America I remember

my brother is an Einstein at maths


Countable and Uncountable Nouns

Collective Nouns
‘A collective noun is a word for a group of specific items, animals or people. For example, a group of ships is called a fleet, a group of cows is called a herd, a group of lions is called a pride, a group of baseball players is called a team, and a group of ants is called a colony.’
Source: UCL