What is a Noun?

Brad Smith


I'm the creator of this site (Grammar Gang). I'm also the founder of Codeless, a long-form content creation company that's been featured in The New York Times, Business Insider, The Next Web, and hundreds more.

We produce around ~100 long, in-depth articles each month. So we're relying on these tools on a daily basis. Here, I break down the good, bad, and uuuuuuggggllllyyyy.
Brad Smith

A Noun is the name of a person, place, animal, thing, or idea.

It is one of the most widely used elements in sentences. For example, Sam, Chocolate, Table, Army, Honesty, New York; these all are Noun.

Let’s get into a little more detail and see examples as full-fledged sentences.

Noun Examples

As the definition goes, whichever name denotes a:

Person – David, Ben, Tyson, Bella, Lina, etc. is a Noun.

Place – New York, Africa, Asia, London, Malibu, etc. is a Noun.

Animal – Cat, Rat, Dog, Elephant, Lion, etc. is a Noun.

Thing – Table, Ball, Gun, Chair, Computer, etc. is a Noun.

Idea – Honesty, Love, Hate, Happy, etc. is Noun.

Take a look at the following sentences:

  • Peter is playing with a basketball.
  • Honesty is the best policy.
  • We are eating ice cream.
  • I love New York City.
  • The Army was served chocolate milk.

All the bold words in the above sentences are Noun. Why?

Because they all denote either a place, person, thing, idea, or a group.

For example, in the first sentence, “Peter” is the name of a person and “basketball” is a thing.

Similarly, “Honesty” is an idea and “New York City” is the name of a place.

Noun Types

Earlier Noun was divided into six categories, but as English grammar evolved, we saw an addition of two new members – Concrete Noun and Possessive Noun.

Before I talk about these two, take a look at six pre-existing types of Noun.

1. Proper Noun

Proper Noun refers to the name of a specific place, person, or thing. For example, Lynda, Brian, Tony, Austin, Germany, Taj Mahal, etc. fall under Proper Noun.

Proper Noun is directly related to specificity. For example, when we say “a boy”, that’s common. It can denote any boy. But when we say “Brian”, it points out to a particular boy named Brian.

Similarly, when I say “monument”, I can mean any building in this world. But when I say “Taj Mahal”, I’m referring to a particular monument of India.

Another thing you will have noticed is, all Proper Noun, starts with a capital letter regardless of their position in a sentence.

2. Common Noun

Common noun goes by its name. It indicates anything that is common. For example, boy, girl, pen, table, city, country, building, etc.

While it’s easy to differentiate between a Common Noun and Proper Noun, many readers still can’t figure out the difference between these two.

So if you face the same issue, let me tell you, while a pen can mean any pen in this world, that’s why it’s a Common Noun.

However, when I say a Mont Blanc pen, it means to that specific brand. That’s why we will call Mont Blanc a Proper Noun.

Got it? Great! Let’s move to the next category.

3. Abstract Noun

All the emotions and ideas fall into the Abstract Noun category. For instance, beauty, lust, love, anger, honesty, etc. are an Abstract Noun.

However, don’t mismatch words like beautiful, lovely, honestly and all the other words that qualify a Noun or pronoun as Abstract Noun.

Because Abstract Noun talks only about the idea or emotion, it doesn’t describe a Noun or Pronoun. Neither it proceeds a Noun or Pronoun in a sentence.

For example, read this sentence.

“Dave is an honest man”.

Here “honest” is an Adjective because it is describing Dave’s character. On the other hand, in this sentence:

“Honesty is a virtue”.

“Honesty” is an Abstract Noun because it talks only about the quality. It’s not qualifying a Noun or Pronoun.

4. Collective Noun

Collective Noun refers to a group of person or things. For example, Army, Class, audience, public, family, etc.

However, the interesting thing is, American English perceive Collective Nouns as singular whereas, in British English, it can be denoted both – Singular and Plural.

The conflict between American and British English is outright visible here, too.

5. Countable Noun

Yes, it is what you’re thinking. Countable Noun includes anything that can be counted like two bats, four trees, hundred guns, etc.

6. Uncountable Noun

As you’ve already guessed, Uncountable Noun is the opposite of Countable Noun. Anything we can’t count can be counted as Uncountable Noun.

It includes sugar, salt, water, wheat, etc.

7. Concrete Noun

Concrete Noun includes everything that you can identify or observe using your five senses like a ball, phone, building, shirt, shorts, and anything tangible.

Since Concrete Noun encompasses everything that is touchable, it overlaps most of the other types of Noun like Proper, Common, Collective, Countable, etc.

8. Possessive Noun

Possessive Noun is another new chap in the town like Concrete Noun. It basically demonstrates possession of something. For instance Liam’s dog, Nina’s car, Anthony’s gloves.

How to use Noun

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, Noun is pervasive and also very versatile in terms of usage.

A noun is usually used as the subject of a sentence, as an object, as subject and object complement, as a prepositional object, and also as an adjective.

Noun as a subject

This is the most common way to use Nouns. When using Noun as a subject, we tend to place it at the beginning of the sentence.

For example: Victor is looking handsome.

Here Victor is a Proper Noun and also the subject of the sentence as the sentence is about him.

However, you cannot count handsome as an Abstract Noun because it’s describing how Victor is looking. So, it’s an adjective, not a Noun.

Another example could be, Maria runs fast. Here Maria is a Noun (you know which one, ha?) and also the subject.

Noun as an Object

A noun can also be seen as an object of a sentence. Like this:

Do you have any idea?

Here idea is the object of the sentence and also an Abstract Noun.

Noun as a subject and object complement

Look at this sentence: “Michael is an athlete.”

Here the subject is “Michael” which is a Proper Noun and “athlete” is a Common Noun object that complements the subject (Michael) and shows what Michael is.

Similarly, you can use Nouns as object complements, too. For example:

“This is what you are now, a scientist”.

As you can see the object here is “you” and the Noun Scientist tells us what “you” is.

Noun as a prepositional object

Prepositional object means the objects that come after a preposition. A good example could be:

“The phone is on the table”.

“Phone” is the subject, but “table” is the prepositional object of this sentence.

Noun as a modifier

Many times, Noun are used as adjectives to modify another Noun. And in the grammar world, we call it Noun Adjunct.

Look at this instance:

“She is a power hitter”. Here, power is the Abstract Noun that designates the following noun “hitter”.

Appositive Noun

According to Grammarly, an Appositive Noun is something the comes immediately after another Noun to identify it further.

Here’s Appositive Noun in action:

“My favorite bike, Harley Davidson Roadster, has been sold out”.

As you noticed, the Noun “bike” was preceded by a “Harley Davidson Roadster” – a Proper Noun – to further clarify which bike has been sold out.

Common mistakes with Noun

You just saw how versatile Noun is and the several ways you can use Noun in your sentences.

However, there are some frequent mistakes many of us commit time and again. And the most common mistake is using Uncountable Nouns in plural form.

Some demonstration:

“He provided me with these bad news”.

“I want all the informations”.

“We should compassionate with the blinds”.

“I will help the poors”.

All the above sentences might seem perfectly okay to many eyes, but all of them are wrong.

The words ‘informations’, ‘blinds’, and ‘poors’, are unnecessarily made plural by adding ‘s’ because all these words are already in plural form.

On the contrary, the Noun ‘News’ is paired with a plural determiner ‘these’, whereas it should be complemented with a singular determiner ‘the’ because ‘News’ is a singular Noun.

Similarly, there are some other examples like…

“Please give me some advices”.

“Where are your luggages?”

“This car costs one millions dollars”.

“We saw some beautiful sceneries”.

…where the letter ‘s’ is included in Uncountable Nouns that are already plural.

So always keep in mind, almost  all of the Uncountable Nouns are already plural; never add an extra ‘s’ as you do with a Common, Concrete, or Countable Noun, to make it plural.

And that brings us to the end of today’s class about Noun.

Here’s a quick recap of what you learned today:

What is Noun?

A noun is a name of a person, place, animal, ideas, or things.

Example?

Martin, anger, table, sugar, road, England, USA, etc.

Types of Noun:

There are eight types of Nouns

  • Proper Noun
  • Common Noun
  • Abstract Noun
  • Concrete Noun
  • Collective Noun
  • Countable Noun
  • Uncountable Noun
  • Possessive Noun

How to use Nouns in your sentences?

  • As subject
  • As an object
  • Noun as a Subject and Object complement
  • Prepositional object
  • As a modifier or Noun Adjunc
  • Appositive Noun

Most common mistakes to avoid while using Noun

Adding an extra ‘s’ to the end of Uncountable Nouns to make it plural. Some samples:

  • Informations
  • Advices
  • Luggages
  • Sceneries
  • Poors
  • Blinds, etc.

So after reading this post and going through the recap, I hope you you will have had a clear understanding of Noun and how it works. Now, you’re ready to dodge all those silly errors that your peers are still guilty of.