Common Noun – Examples & Rules

When you engage with English grammar, at some point, you will face the confusion of what is a common noun. It is very important to realize that nouns can be classified into two types. One is a proper noun, and the other is common.

To state the basics, a common noun is a word for generic items, while a proper noun is a word for specific items. Today, we will try to focus on common nouns and understand how and where they can be applied.

A common noun is not very complex. It is rather easy to be recognized.

What is Common Noun?

A common noun is basically a generic name. It is a word that we use to name general items that are present everywhere surrounding us. It can be a generic name for a person, thing, or place. It can be anything that we can see through our eyes.

For instance, you are in your kitchen, and you see a table and chair. Those objects are all common nouns. Common nouns are basically names for all the general items we regularly engage with.

Common vs Proper nouns

To understand better, it is best to differentiate it from the other classification. That is a proper noun.

Now, like mentioned earlier, a common noun is a generic name. So, we need to understand that it is used to name general items and not specific ones like a proper noun. A proper noun is a noun that is used to name something specific.

Let us understand with an example;

If you see a pair of shoes and you say that you want it, you would say;

“I want a pair of shoes.”

Here, “shoes” is a common noun. What kind or what brand is not specifically mentioned.

Now, if you use a particular brand name such as;

“I want a pair of Jordan.”

Here, “Jordan” is a proper noun. It is specifically mentioned, and hence, it cannot be a common noun.

Common nouns are lowercase words

In the above examples, we noticed that the common noun was not capitalized whereas the proper noun was. So, it becomes a simple rule to recognize a common noun.

Common nouns are mostly lowercase words as they refer to general items and not definite something. They are only capitalized when used to begin a sentence. Unless that is the case, common nouns are generally lowercase words, unlike proper nouns that are capitalized.

Use of common nouns

Common nouns are used to name a class of person, place, or thing. It can be anything as long as it is a general reference and not a definite or specific classification of an object or a concept.

For example;

with a person;

  • I saw my teacher coming this way.
  • The lawyer is very busy.

With an object;

  • I lost my cup last night.
  • I am reading the book right now.

So we see, these words are common nouns. Had it been a brand name or a specific name such as “Runi teacher” or “Anne Frank,” it would have been a proper noun.

We can conclude that common nouns are nouns that are used to refer to general items. They are mostly lowercase words. We use them every time, even if we do not realize it.

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