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How can Nouns be defined?

Remember this game called ‘Name, Place, Animal, Thing’?

I am sure you do!
Well, all the words that you used to write and win for, are Nouns.

A noun refers to a word used for a person, place, or thing. Everything that we can see or talk about is represented by a word that names it. These are also known as naming words.

Examples of Nouns


To learn in detail, there can be five different types of nouns-

  1. Proper nouns 

These are the names of specific people, places, things, or ideas. The first letter of such words should always be in capitals.

For example: Peter, India, January, Sunday

  1. Common nouns

These name any person, place, thing, or idea. If such a term does not appear at the beginning of a sentence, it won’t begin with a capital letter.

For example: cat, chair, boy

  1. Collective nouns

These are used while representing a group of people, animals, or things.

For example: a gang of thieves, a bouquet of flowers, a flock of sheep, a group of people

  1. Abstract nouns

These are the ones that cannot be seen or touched.

For example- honesty, truth, friendship, love, care

  1. Material nouns

These are used to name a particular kind of matter.

For example: iron, gold, water, salt

Classification on the basis of Quantity

Depending upon their quantity, nouns can be classified into countable and uncountable.

Countable nouns are those that refer to something that can be counted. 

For example: balloons, toys, books, country

Uncountable nouns are those that refer to something that cannot be counted.

For example: rice, milk, wine, wood

Possessive Case of Nouns

Let’s take the following two sentences with same meanings for examples-

The book of Ritu is on the table.

Ritu’s book is on the table.

The noun, ‘Ritu’ in the first sentence changes to ‘Ritu’s’ in the second sentence. This is an example of a possessive case. Such a case is used to show possession or ownership of a thing. It is expressed by adding (an apostrophe and the letter S) to the noun.

Given below are some rules to understand the possessive cases-

When a noun is singular, the possessive case is formed by adding an apostrophe and ‘S’ to it.Normal sentence- The books of the boys.
Possessive Case- The boy’s books.
When a noun is plural and ends with the letter ‘S’, the possessive case is formed by adding only an apostrophe.Normal sentence- The books of the boys.
Possessive Case- The boys’ books.
When a noun is plural but does not end with the letter ‘S’, the possessive case is formed by adding an apostrophe and ‘S’ to the noun.Normal sentence- The bags of the women.
Possessive Case- The women’s bags.
When two nouns are closely connected, we use an apostrophe and ‘S’ with the second one in the sentence.Normal sentence- The mother of Amna and Abhishek.
Possessive Case- Amna and Abhishek’s mother.

Difference between Proper and Common Nouns

One can use both proper and common nouns in order to name people, places, things, or ideas.

However, the major and the only difference between both of these is that proper nouns are specific to people, places, things, or ideas while common nouns can be generic.

Have a look at the following examples to understand the difference-

Common NounProper Noun
DrinkCoca Cola
ManNarendra Modi
MountainMount Everest
OceanIndian Ocean
BuildingRashtrapati Bhawan

Nouns are one of the most generic phrases in English grammar. Almost everything that we refer to, is a noun.

Learn more about such topics in English grammar, check out the basics of English grammar.

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