Types of Nouns
There are different types of nounOpens in new window, with each one having its own unique characteristics—just the same way we are as people, but despite this uniqueness we are generally human in the sense that we talk, walk, eat, chat, laugh, and do many other humane things.
In the same way nouns irrespective of their kinds are generally nouns. This brings us back to the definition of nouns:
Nouns are naming words that identifies a person, animal, place, thing, event, or abstract idea.
Classification of Nouns
A. Classes of Nouns
Nouns are broadly classed into two classes:
- Common nouns and
- Proper nouns.
1. Common Noun
A common nounOpens in new window is a word that names a general person, place thing quality, or idea.
|person||man, woman, teacher, etc.|
|place||market, school, state, etc.|
|thing||car, computer, pencil, etc.|
|idea||plan, cost, freedom, etc.|
|quality||resilience, passion, bravery, etc.|
Contrary to common noun, is a proper noun Opens in new window, which names a specific person, place, or thing.
Common nouns do not usually begin with a capital letter and are usually preceded by an indefinite article such as a or the.
2. Proper Noun
A Proper NounOpens in new window is the naming word that distinctively names an individual member of a class. It include:
- personal names (Alice, John),
- names of places (Canada, Oslo),
- formal titles, (Knights, Reverend)
The word “proper” is derived from the word “property” and has the meaning of “one’s own.” In writing, proper nouns are capitalized.
B. Special Classes
The two classes—common and proper—cover all nouns, but included in these two are some special types, as the following:
1. Abstract Noun
Abstract nounsOpens in new window are naming words that name ideas, emotions, or other concepts that do not have an actual physical form. Some examples of abstract nouns include despair, happiness, courage, strength, wish, etc.
Note that some abstract nouns may be considered concrete nouns, depending how they are used, e.g., the root of a plant, the root of the issue, a whisper of doubt.
However, some abstract nouns are countable e.g., dreams, fears, triumphs or successes, etc., while some are uncountable, e.g., charity, ignorance, paleness.
2. Countable Noun
Countable nouns Opens in new window are nouns with both singular and plural forms, and they name anything—or anyone— that can be counted.
Countable nouns are usually preceded by indefinite articles such as a (e.g., a bucket) or the (e.g., the church or by such possessives as my (e.g., my car) or our (e.g., our vacation), except where they operate like uncountable nouns in similar expression as at school.
3. Uncountable Noun
Uncountable nounOpens in new window represent something that cannot be counted.
- For example, such things include “steam,” “water,” “dampness,” “frustration,” “oxygen” etc.
They generally cannot be referred to in the plural because they can’t be made plural, hence, they always take a singular verb in a sentence.
Uncountable noun is also known as mass noun, and are considered opposite of countable nouns and also similar to collective nouns.
4. Concrete Noun
Concrete noun Opens in new window refer to things that have some kind of actual physical form including people and animals.
Concrete nouns identify concrete objects that we can perceive through our senses —that is, concrete nouns can be touched, felt, held, seen, smelt, taste, or be heard.
Depending on the context, concrete nouns may be variously categorized as:
- countable (birds, plants, houses, etc.) or uncountable (snow, water, flood, etc.).
Concrete noun is the opposite of abstract noun Opens in new window.
5. Collective Noun
A collective nounOpens in new window is a noun that refers to a group or collection of persons, animals, or things as a complete whole.
Examples of collective nouns are emphasized (bolded) in the sentences below:
- 1) Our class has forty-two students.
→Class is a noun naming a group of students.
- 2) Their team played excellently.
→Team is a noun naming a group of players.
- 3) The cast acted very well.
→Cast is a noun naming a group of actors.
- 4) Parents and children make a family.
→Family is a collective noun naming a group of persons.
- 5) The commander ordered the army to advance.
→Army is a collective noun naming a group of soldiers.
6. Compound Noun
Compound nounsOpens in new window are two individual words that carry one meaning. Compound nouns vary in form; some are closed, some are open, and some are hyphenated.
The following are some examples of compound nouns:
|Closed Forms||Open Forms||Hyphenated Forms|
A GerundOpens in new window is a special type of noun. It is a verb form ending in –ing that is used as a noun. They are usually called noun-verbs.For Example:
- Cooking is an excellent hobby.
- Walking can be a great exercise.
- Skating takes most part of her day.
Note also the term “Pronoun” is a word that stands in place of a noun. See PronounsOpens in new window for comprehensive studies.