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Proper vs. Common Nouns: Which One To Capitalize?

Most people get confused about which nouns need to be capitalized. Why on earth do we use a capital letter for “Mumbai,” but not for “pizza”? The answer lies in the difference between proper and common nouns. In this article, we’ll explain to you everything about capitalization of proper and common nouns. 

Proper vs. Common Nouns: Which One Should You Capitalize? | English Medium

Proper Nouns

Most people understand that nouns are naming words. However, the reason why some nouns are capitalized and others aren’t is because the capitalized words are one-of-a-kind entities, like specific people, cities or landmarks. 

We call these proper nouns. So we capitalize “Mumbai” because it is the name of a particular city and “Eiffel Tower” because it is a particular building. Some other proper nouns include “Abdul Kalam” and “Sprite.”

Common Nouns

These are words used to refer to something generic. For instance, while we might capitalize “Minnie Mouse” as the name of a particular cartoon character, if we were talking about a furry rodent living in our basement, we would use a lower case “m” when we said “There’s a mouse in the basement.”

Common nouns can be used for people, places, things and ideas, but all of these will be one among a whole class of entities or a general concept. So we talk about “writers,” “beaches” and “coffee,” all with lower case letters.

Difference between Proper and Common Nouns

To show you the difference, here is a table of common nouns with proper noun equivalents:

Common NounProper Noun
writerRajiv Malhotra
cityNew Delhi
companyEnglish Medium
social mediaInstagram
buildingParliament house
cartoonPowerPuff Girls
presidentRam Nath Kovind
mountainMount Everest

We hope this article helped you understand everything about capitalization of proper and common nouns!

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