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A noun is a word that names a person, a place, a thing or an idea. There are different kinds or classes of nouns. Nouns can fall into one or more of the following categories: proper, common, concrete, abstract, collective or compound. In addition, a noun can be classified as singular or plural, countable or uncountable and imply a gender.

Proper Nouns and Common Nouns

Proper nouns name a specific person, place, thing or idea, e.g., George Washington, Philadelphia & Shrek. Common nouns do not name a specific person, place, thing or idea, e.g., president, city & movie. Generally speaking, proper nouns are capitalized and common nouns are not capitalized. For a list of common nouns, please read our post on picture words/nouns.

Concrete Nouns and Abstract Nouns

Concrete nouns name a thing that you can experience using one or more of your five senses – touch, sight, taste, smell and hearing. If you can see, hear, smell, taste, or feel the item, it is a concrete noun, e.g., book, flower and White House. Whereas, abstract nouns refer to something that is intangible, e.g. an idea or concept. Love, politeness, and democracy are examples of abstract nouns. Both concrete and abstract nouns can be either proper or common nouns.

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns name a certain kind of group or collection of people, animals and things. It is a single unity that contains more than one person, animal or thing.

Person Animal Thing
chorus of singers flock of birds batch of cookies
class of students gaggle of geese collection of coins
crowd of people set of dishes litter of puppies
family of people stack of papers school of fish

Compound Nouns

A compound noun is a noun that is consists of two or more words, e.g., airline, birdhouse, doorbell, notebook, cell phone, ice cream and father-in-law. Compound words are formed by joining two nouns, two non-nouns or a noun and non-noun.

Countable and Uncountable (Non count) Nouns

As the name implies, countable nouns are nouns that can be counted. For example, you can count the number of plates at the dinner table. Uncountable or non count nouns, sometimes referred to as mass nouns, are not countable, e.g., furniture or silverware. As stated above, you can count how many plates are at a table but you would not say we have four silverware and one furniture but you would say we have four forks and one table.

Singular Nouns and Plural Nouns

Singular nouns name one person, place thing or idea. Whereas, plural nouns name more than one person, place, thing or idea.

Singular Noun Plural Noun
book books
desk desks
pencil pencils

Noun Gender

Noun gender refers to whether a noun is female, male, neuter (neither male nor female) or indefinite (either male or female).

  • Female: mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, hen, cow
  • Male: father, brother, grandfather, uncle, rooster, bull
  • Neuter: desk, flower, car, bed, rug, book
  • Indefinite: child, bus driver, parent, doctor, teacher
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