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Proper nouns

Proper nouns are the names that are given to people, pets, distinct places, businesses, days of the week, months, significant dates, and art pieces.

  • My friends JulianBilly and their mom Crystal were flying in yesterday.
  • The movie was shot in Bangkok, which is the capital of Thailand.
  • He was driving a Chevrolet to pick his girlfriend up.
  • I met my best friend on the first Thursday of August in New Zealand.
  • I saw those people around Halloween.
  • My favourite movie is Drive, but I also really like Only God Forgives.

As a general rule, proper nouns are always capitalized

  • My friends JulianBilly and their mom Crystal were flying in yesterday.
  • The movie was shot in Bangkok, which is the capital of Thailand.
  • He was driving a Chevrolet to pick his girlfriend up.
  • I met my best friend on the first Thursday of August in New Zealand.
  • I saw those people around Halloween.
  • My favourite movie is Drive, but I also really like Only God Forgives.

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Common nouns

Any noun that is not a name, that is, any noun that is not a proper noun, is a common noun. By exclusion from the above categories, most nouns are common nouns.

  • My friends Julian, Billy and their mom Crystal were flying in yesterday.
  • The movie was shot in Bangkok, which is the capital of Thailand.
  • He was driving a Chevrolet to pick his girlfriend up.
  • I met my best friend on the first Thursday of August in New Zealand.
  • I saw those people around Halloween.
  • My favourite movie is Drive, but I also really like Only God Forgives.

Essential English Grammar – A Friendly Approach

Lesson #37: Proper nouns

Proper nouns are the commonest type of noun in English. Proper nouns are the names given to people, pets, places, businesses, days, months, significant dates, and art pieces. As a general rule, proper nouns are always capitalised (we must use capital letters for the first letter of a proper noun).

Context

  • What’s the plan for this weekend?
  • We’re on vacation in Madrid1, Spain2. So, we only have two days to get everything done, Saturday3 and Sunday, so we’re going to be a little rushed.
  • How wonderful! I agree, two days isn’t a lot of time, but surely you can go to some museums? I heard that The Prado4 is an excellent museum with art and sculptures from artists such as Goya and Picasso5.
  • Yes, you’re right. We will not miss out on the Prado, that’s for sure. My husband, David6, is very keen on ancient art rather than7 contemporary artwork.
  • Just out of interest, which museum has contemporary art in Madrid?
  • That would be the Reina Sofia museum in the south part of the city. I don’t think we’ll go there, because during August8 it’s typically very full of people, although I would love to see the Guernica by Picasso.
  • I bet you’d love to see that panting, I hear it’s a marvel.

Analysis

  1. Madrid: cities are proper nouns hence the capital letter M.
  2. Spain: countries are always capitalised. I.e., France, Sweden, Belgium etc.
  3. Days of the week are always capitalised because they are proper nouns.
  4. The Prado: is a museum with significant importance so it’s capitalised.
  5. Picasso and Goya: – these were artists and also people, so they must be capitalised.
  6. Names are always capitalised.
  7. Than: is used to make comparatives in English. For example, she’s bigger than me, I’m taller than her.
  8. August: months are proper nouns, so they must be capitalised.

Essential English Grammar – A Friendly Approach

Lesson #38: Common nouns

Common nouns are the names we designate to general things. Anything that’s not specific such as, for example, proper nouns, that are specific and require capital letters. Common nouns do not require capital letters because they are not specific things, rather, they are general things like, for example, cat, sock, steak, city, television, computer etc. Most nouns are either common nouns or proper nouns.

Context

  • Do you prefer to live in a city1 or town, Rob2?
  • I much prefer the inner-city life2. It’s so much more vibrant and interesting.
  • So, do you not mind all the noise and the hustle and bustle3 that goes with living in a city?
  • Absolutely not! I really believe that cities are the future. It’s in the cities that one4 can find diversity, selection, employment, and many, many more things.
  • What about the countryside? Not your cup of tea5 then?
  • No, not really. I mean, for a weekend escape6, the countryside is great, but in regard to living, I would always choose to live in a big city where7 I can remain anonymous.
  • Do you like having your anonymity then?
  • Yes, I certainly do. What about you, do you prefer the countryside or the city?
  • Personally8, I much prefer the countryside, although, I think I probably wouldn’t like it so much after about a couple of weeks.
  • I bet!

Analysis

  1. City: is a common noun, so it is therefore not capitalised.
  2. Life: is a common noun. It’s a common noun because it doesn’t refer to anything specific.
  3. Hustle and bustle: a very common phrase to refer to lots of excitement and busy activity.
  4. One: a gender-neutral pronoun that we can use to refer to people when talking about anything in a general sense. I.e., one needs to dress well when going to a job interview.
  5. Cup of tea: a chiefly British idiomatic expression in English meaning, ‘’what someone likes’’. I.e., ‘’would you like to play football with us this Saturday? Not really, football is just not my cup of tea’’. Saying that football isn’t your cup of tea, just means that you don’t like football.
  6. Escape: verb and noun, and in this case, escape is a common noun.
  7. Where: in this case, where functions as a relative adverb in reference to place. The place or destination being; a big city.
  8. Personally:  a sentence adverb. We use sentence adverbs to modify whole sentences. Sentence adverbs also require a comma. I.e., honestly, I don’t know what he looks like. Thankfully, our rescuers were able to reach us in time. Honestly and thankfully act as sentence adverbs, and also require a comma.

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