The Seven Kinds of Nouns


A noun is defined as the name of a person, place or thing. For this process of naming, we must make use of many different noun types in order to abide by the rules of English grammar. There are seven different types of nouns in the English language that we use to convey the meaning of a name.

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Common nouns refer to a general class of person, place or thing. For example: boy, forest and rock--these words refer to a category of noun, rather than to the special title of a specific noun.

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Proper nouns are names that refer specifically to the identity of certain special nouns. Proper nouns include the names of people (Jonathan), geographical names (Australia), brand names (Kleenex), institutional names (Bank of America) as well as titles of film, literature and artwork (Deer Hunter). Proper nouns are always capitalized.

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A collective noun refers to a group or collection of nouns with one word. Consider for example the first word in each of the following phrases: flock of geese, pack of cigarettes, crowd of people, and bundle of sticks.

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Abstract nouns refer to concepts that we objectify in thought and speech but have no material form. Examples of abstract nouns include hope, desire, fear and anguish. These nouns are unique, for we may treat them as objects in a sentence, yet they do not exist as objects in the physical realm, as do other nouns.

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Compound nouns are nouns that consist of two or more words combined. Some compound nouns are hyphenated (jack-in-the-box); others consist of separate words (board of trustees); and some compound nouns are two or more words combined without a hyphen (manslaughter).

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Count nouns are nouns that may be counted in numbers; for example, two eggs, three trucks, four birds. To express plurality, we may add an "s" to the end of the word; in some cases we must add "es": bushes, rushes, brushes.

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Mass nouns, also called non-count nouns, are nouns that may not be counted, such as milk, water and sunlight. These nouns may be quantified by certain constants (jar of milk, rays of sunlight), but we may not number them in the standard plural fashion (three milks, two sunlights).

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