Learn English » Proper Nouns And Common Nouns

English Grammar - Proper Nouns And Common Nouns

You have learnt about nouns, haven’t you? There are different types of nouns. One classification of nouns is as proper nouns and common nouns.

A proper noun is the name of a particular person, event, place or thing. Examples are Freddie, Canada, Coca Cola, Christmas etc. Proper nouns begin with a capital letter. They are not preceded by articles such as ‘a’, or ‘an’ but are sometimes preceded by ‘the’ when it is part of the proper name, as in ‘The Philippines’.

A common noun, on the other hand, is not the name of a particular person, thing or place, but is a word that is used to refer to the class or group to which the proper nouns belong. For example, Freddie is a proper noun, but boy is a common noun. Canada is a proper noun whereas country is a common noun. Generally common nouns do not start with a capital letter, unless it is the first word of a sentence.

In contrast to a proper noun, a common noun can be preceded by an article such as ‘a’, ‘an’ or ‘the’. It is perfectly correct to say ‘a boy’ but not ‘a Freddie’.

Let us see if you have understood the difference between common and proper nouns.

In the followiing sentences, is the underlined noun a common or proper noun? Circle your answer.

1. My sister is coming home next week.

    Common noun   -   Proper noun

 2. Mr. John likes to go cycling to work.

   Common noun   -   Proper noun

3. Do we have to attend the wedding?

    Common noun   -   Proper noun

4. The cycles in this shop are all brand new.

    Common noun   -   Proper noun

5. The World Health Organisation is organising a health workshop in our capital city.

    Common noun   -   Proper noun

Have you answered the questions above? Now check if you are right. The answers are as follows.
1. common noun
2. proper noun
3. common noun
4. common noun
5. proper noun

How did you do? Did you get your answers right? If not, please refer to the notes again.

A few more exercises are given below as worksheets, in identifying common and proper nouns. These exercises are classified as beginner, intermediate and advanced. Remember to choose according to your level of proficiency in the English language, not according to your age. Please click on your desired level to get your free, downloadable worksheet.

Worksheets for Beginner Level Learners

Worksheets for Intermediate Level Learners

Worksheets for Advanced Level Learners

Puzzle Book
Short Stories

International Short Story Writing Contest for School Children