Nouns are a key element of language. But what exactly is a noun? Here, we\u2019ll explain the basics of nouns in English and some common noun types.\r\nWhat Is a Noun?\r\nNouns are naming words. This means we use them to name people, animals, places, objects, and ideas. Examples of nouns include:\r\n\r\n\tPeople nouns \u2013 man, woman, doctor, chef, Lucy, Howard\r\n\tPlace nouns \u2013 school, home, city, park, Europe, China\r\n\tOther nouns \u2013 cat, fish, bicycle, toaster, happiness, love, money\r\n\r\nNouns are often the subject or object in a sentence. For example:\r\nSimon kicked the ball.\r\nHere, \u2018Simon\u2019 is a noun and the subject of the sentence (i.e. it names the person carrying out the action in the sentence). And the noun \u2018ball\u2019 is the object of the sentence (i.e. it names the thing Simon is acting on).\r\nNouns can play other roles in English (e.g. modifying another word). However, most of the time, they name things in a sentence.\r\nDifferent Types of Nouns\r\nWe can also divide nouns into different types, including:\r\n\r\n\tProper and common nouns\r\n\tConcrete and abstract nouns\r\n\tCountable and uncountable nouns\r\n\tCollective nouns\r\n\tNoun phrases\r\n\r\nIt\u2019s worth noting here that all nouns belong to more than one class. For example, \u2018kindness\u2019 is a common, abstract, uncountable noun, whereas \u2018Napoleon\u2019 is a concrete, proper, countable noun. But it helps to know these categories, as English sometimes has special rules for different noun types.\r\nWe\u2019ll look briefly at all the above in the rest of this post.\r\n1. Proper and Common Nouns\r\nAll nouns can be divided into proper and common nouns:\r\n\r\n\tProper nouns name unique people, places, organisations, and things. These words always begin with a capital letter.\r\n\tCommon nouns name generic things. Unlike proper nouns, these usually only begin with a capital letter at the start of a sentence.\r\n\r\nFor example, \u2018person\u2019 is a common noun since it refers to a generic thing. But \u2018Duncan\u2019 is a proper noun since it names a specific person. You can see the difference between more proper and common nouns in the table below.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nProper Nouns\r\n\r\n\r\nCommon Nouns\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nBrazil\r\n\r\n\r\ncountry\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nLondon\r\n\r\n\r\ncity\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nOctober\r\n\r\n\r\nmonth\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nGarfield\r\n\r\n\r\ncat\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nMicrosoft\r\n\r\n\r\ncompany\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\u00a0\r\n2. Concrete and Abstract Nouns\r\nWe can also divide nouns into concrete and abstract nouns:\r\n\r\n\tConcrete nouns are things you can see, hear, smell, taste, or touch, such as \u2018coffee\u2019, \u2018child\u2019, \u2018bed\u2019, \u2018water,\u2019 and \u2018sunlight\u2019.\r\n\tAbstract nouns are things you cannot perceive with your senses, including ideas and emotions like \u2018anger\u2019, \u2018knowledge\u2019, and \u2018truth\u2019.\r\n\r\nDespite this, we treat abstract and concrete nouns the same in writing.\r\n3. Countable and Uncountable Nouns\r\nAnother way of classifying nouns is as countable or uncountable:\r\n\r\n\tCountable (or count) nouns refer to things you can count. They can be singular or plural. Examples include \u2018day\u2019, \u2018train\u2019, \u2018chair\u2019, and \u2018coin\u2019.\r\n\tUncountable (also non-count or mass) nouns describe things you cannot count as individuals. They are always singular. Examples include \u2018patience\u2019, \u2018rice\u2019, 'money', 'work', and \u2018music\u2019.\r\n\r\nFor example, \u2018rabbit\u2019 is countable as you can count rabbits individually (e.g. \u2018seven rabbits\u2019). But \u2018water\u2019 is uncountable as we can\u2019t divide a quantity of water into individual \u2018waters\u2019. Thus, we have to say how much, not how many, of an uncountable noun we mean (e.g. \u2018a gallon of water\u2019).\r\n4. Collective Nouns\r\nCollective nouns name a group, such as \u2018family', \u2018crew\u2019 and \u2018team\u2019. People usually treat these group nouns as singular, especially in US English:\r\nThe team is celebrating its win.\r\nBut you can use plural terms with collective nouns when referring to the members of a group acting individually:\r\nThe team are arguing with one another.\r\nHere, we use the plural verb \u2018are\u2019 because we\u2019re describing the members of the team arguing among themselves, not acting together as a group.\r\n5. Noun Phrases\r\nFinally, a noun phrase is a phrase that plays the role of a noun. This will always include a noun, but it will also include other words that tell us about the main noun. It could be just two words (i.e. a noun and a modifier):\r\nMy brother is going home tomorrow.\r\nHere, for instance, the modifier \u2018my\u2019 tells us about the noun \u2018brother\u2019. But noun phrases can be more complex and made up of several words:\r\nI took the bus that was supposed to arrive this morning.\r\nThe main noun here is \u2018bus\u2019. But this is modified by \u2018that was supposed to arrive this morning\u2019, which tells us the specific bus the speaker has in mind.\r\nExpert Proofreading\r\nWe hope this has clarified the basics of nouns in English for you! If you would like a little help to check any aspect of your writing, though, why not try our expert proofreading services for free today?