Types of Noun
Types of NounA noun is a word for a person, place, or thing. (It might be helpful to think of a noun as a "naming word.") There are different types of noun, but all nouns can be classified as either a proper noun or a common noun.
Once we've discussed proper nouns, we will cover common nouns and the nine types of common noun.
Proper NounsA proper noun is the specific name given to a person, place, or thing (e.g., a personal name or a title). For example:
- Dayton Peace Accord
- United Nations
- The Tower of London
- Uncle George ("Uncle" is written with a capital letter because it is part of his name.)
- Auntie Sally
- The Red Lion
Read more about proper nouns.
Read more about using capital letters for proper nouns.
Common NounsA common noun is the word used for something. In other words, it is the word that appears in a dictionary. For example:
|Common Noun||Proper Noun|
- He disobeyed a direct Order. (The word "order" is a common noun. It should not be written with a capital letter.)
- It is the largest Church in Birmingham. (The word "church" is a common noun. It should not be written with a capital letter.)
Read more about not using capital letters with common nouns.
A Video SummaryHere is a short video summarizing the different types of noun.
Types of Common NounBelow are nine different types of common noun. Every common noun can be classified as at least one of the following noun types.
(1) Abstract NounAn abstract noun is something you cannot see or touch (e.g., "bravery," "hate," "joy"). Here are some more examples of abstract nouns categorized under conceptual headings:
|Feelings||anxiety, fear, sympathy|
|States||freedom, chaos, luxury|
|Emotions||anger, joy, sorrow|
|Qualities||courage, determination, honesty|
|Concepts||opportunity, comfort, democracy|
|Moments||birthday, childhood, marriage|
Read more about abstract nouns.
(2) Concrete NounA concrete noun is something you can see or touch (e.g., "tree," "cloud," "garlic"). Here are some more examples of concrete nouns:
- abbey, banjo, camel, daughter, eclipse, fawn, gerbil, hatchet, igloo, jackal, kangaroo, locket, monsoon, nuts, owl, palm, quill, raspberries, sea, tavern, usher, vulture, wasps, xylophone, yacht, zoo
Read more about concrete nouns.
(3) Collective NounA collective noun is the word used for a group of people or things (e.g., "team," "group," "choir"). Here are some more examples of collective nouns:
- band, board, choir, class, company, congregation, crew, crowd, gang, horde, jury, mob, group, pack, party, team, tribe, bunch, cluster, fleet, range, gaggle, herd, hive, school, shoal, pride, swarm, tribe
- That team is the worst in the league. (Here, the collective noun "team" is treated as singular.)
- The team are not communicating among themselves. (This time, "team" is treated as plural because the focus is on the individuals within the team.)
Read more about treating collective nouns as singular and plural.
(4) Compound NounA compound noun is a noun made up of two or more words (e.g., "court-martial," "water bottle," "pickpocket"). Some compound nouns are hyphenated, some are not, and some combine their words to form a single word. For example:
Hyphenated compound nouns:
- black market
- board of members
- washing machine
Pluralizing a Compound Noun. To form the plural of a compound noun, pluralize the principal word in the compound. When there is no obvious principal word, add "s (or "es") to the end of the compound. For example:
- Mothers-in-law (Pluralize the principal word "mother.")
- Paper-clips (Pluralize the principal word "clip.")
- Forget-me-nots (Here, there is no principal word, so add "s" to the end.)
Read more about forming the plurals of compound nouns.
(5) Gender-Specific NounsA gender-specific noun refers to something specifically male (e.g., "man," "boy," "bull") or a female (e.g., "woman," "girl," "vixen"). Below are some more examples of gender-specific nouns:
- actor, boy, brother, emperor, father, gentleman, grandfather, grandson, headmaster, husband, man, master, mister, nephew, prince, son, steward, uncle, waiter, wizard
- actress, aunt, daughter, empress, girl, granddaughter, grandmother, headmistress, lady, lioness, lioness, madam, mistress, mother, niece, princess, princess, sister, stewardess, stewardess, tigress, tigress, waitress, waitress, wife, witch, woman
(6) GerundAll gerunds end "-ing." A gerund is a noun formed from a verb (e.g., running quickly, guessing a number, baking cakes). Here are some examples of gerunds in sentences.
- Running the tap will clear the air pocket. (This is formed from the verb "to run.")
- She is known for talking quietly. (This is formed from the verb "to talk.")
- My highlight was visiting New York. (This is formed from the verb "to visit.")
- I like baking. (This is a gerund.)
- I need some baking powder. (This is a present participle used as an adjective.)
- She was baking a cake. (This is a present participle used to form the past progressive tense.)
- The quick development of the process is essential. (This eight-word sentence is clunky. There is no gerund.)
- Quickly developing the process is essential. (In this six-word sentence, a gerund has been modified by the adverb "quickly" and has the direct object "the process." It is two words shorter than the first example and more natural sounding.)
(7) Non-Countable Nouns (Mass nouns)A non-countable noun (or mass noun as it's also known) is a noun without a plural form (e.g., "food," "music," "ice"). Non-countable nouns usually fall into one of the following categories: concept, activity, food, gas, liquid, material, item category, natural phenomenon, or particles. Here are some more examples of non-countable nouns shown in the categories.
|Concept||bravery, honesty, patience|
|Activity||playing, reading, sleeping|
|Food||bread, butter, milk|
|Gas||air, helium, hydrogen|
|Liquid||coffee, petrol, water|
|Material||concrete, wood, metal|
|Item Category||luggage, money, software|
|Natural Phenomenon||gravity, snow, sunshine|
|Particles||dust, flour, sugar|
Read more about non-countable nouns (mass nouns).
(8) Countable NounsA countable noun is a noun that can be pluralized (e.g., "cat/cats," "argument/arguments," "device/devices"). Here are some more examples of countable nouns:
- aardvark, backbone, coin, daffodil, eagle, face, gorilla, house, igloo, jaguar, koala, log, man, note, orange, package, queen, robot, suitcase, table, udder, vacation, waltz, xylophone, yacht, zombie
Read more about countable nouns.
(9) Verbal NounsA verbal noun is a noun that has no verb-like properties despite being derived from a verb (e.g., a building, an attack, a decision). Being normal nouns, verbal nouns can be modified by adjectives, be pluralized (if the sense allows), and be followed by prepositional phrases (e.g., "...of men," ...by me"). Here is another example of a verbal noun:
- I am responsible for the funny drawing of the monster. (Notice that the verbal noun has been modified by the adjective "funny." It could also be pluralized to "drawings," and it precedes a prepositional phrase "of the monster.")
- I am responsible for drawing the funny monster. (This time, the word "drawing" is a gerund. It cannot be modified by an adjective, it cannot be pluralized, and it cannot be followed by "of the monster." It has, however, taken a direct object ("the funny monster"), which a verbal noun cannot do.)
More about Noun TypesIn real-life sentences, nouns rarely appear by themselves. Most nouns appear in noun phrases or noun clauses.
- Noun Phrase. A noun phrase is a group of two or more words that is headed by a noun. For example:
- How much is the doggy in the window? (Here, the noun phrase is shaded. The head noun is bold. The other words are modifiers.)
- Noun Clause. A noun clause is a clause (i.e., a group of words with its own subject and verb) that plays the role of a noun. For example:
- Whatever you wish is my command. (The noun clause is shaded. The clause subject is "you," and the clause verb is "wish.")
- How much is he? (Here, the noun phrase "the doggy in the window" has been replaced by the pronoun "he.")
- It is my command. (The noun clause "Whatever you wish" has been replaced by the pronoun "it.")