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The Proper Noun

Recognize a proper noun when you see one. Nouns name people, places, and things. Every noun can further be classified as common or proper. A proper noun has two distinctive features: 1) it will name a specific [usually a one-of-a-kind] item, and 2) it will begin with a capital letter no matter where it occurs in a sentence.

Common Noun

Proper Noun

writer teacher beagle cookie city restaurant document school

Herman Melville Mrs. Hacket Snoopy Oreo Orlando Tito's Taco Palace Declaration of Independence University of Virginia

Check out the chart below: Read the following sentences. Notice the difference between the common and proper nouns. Tina offered Antonio one of her mother's homemade oatmeal cookies but only an Oreo would satisfy his sweet tooth. cookies = common noun; Oreo = proper noun. Charlie had wanted an easy teacher for his composition class, but he got Mrs. Hacket , whose short temper and unreasonable demands made the semester a torture. teacher = common noun; Mrs. Hacket = proper noun.

Gloria wanted to try a new restaurant , so Richard took her to Tito's Taco Palace , where no one dips into the hot sauce until the drinks have arrived at the table. restaurant = common noun; Tito's Taco Palace = proper noun.

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The Common Noun

Recognize a common noun when you see one. Nouns name people, places, and things. Every noun can further be classified as common or proper. A common noun names general items. Go into the kitchen. What do you see? Refrigerator, magnet, stove, window, coffee maker, wallpaper, spatula, sink, plate—all of these things are common nouns. Leave the house. Where can you go? Mall, restaurant, school, post office, backyard, beach, pet store, supermarket, gas station—all of these places are common nouns. Go to the mall. Who do you see? Teenager, grandmother, salesclerk, police officer, toddler, manager, window dresser, janitor, shoplifter—all of these people are common nouns. The important thing to remember is that common nouns are general names. Thus, they are not capitalized unless they begin a sentence or are part of a title. Proper nouns, those that namespecific things, do require capitalization. Notice the difference in the chart below: Here are some sample sentences: Although there are five other chairs in the living room, everyone in Jim's family fights to sit in the puffy new Roll-O-Rocker . Chairs = common noun; Roll-O-Rocker = proper noun. Harriet threw the stale cucumber sandwich in the trash can and fantasized about a Big Mac dripping with special sauce.

Common Noun

Proper Noun

coffee shop waiter jeans sandwich chair arena country fire fighter

Starbucks Simon Levi's Big Mac Roll-O-Rocker Amway Arena Australia Captain Richard Orsini

Sandwich = common noun; Big Mac = proper noun. Because we like an attentive waiter , we always ask for Simon when we eat at Mama Rizzoni's Pizzeria. Waiter = common noun; Simon = proper noun.

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The Concrete Noun

Recognize a concrete noun when you see one. Nouns name people, places, and things. One class of nouns is concrete. You can experience this group of nouns with your five senses: you see them, hear them, smell them, taste them, and feelthem.

Check out the following example: Reliable, Diane's beagle, licked strawberry ice cream off her chin. Ice cream, for example, is a concrete noun. You can see the pink. You can taste the berry flavor. You can feel your tongue growing numb from the cold. Any noun that you can experience with at least one of your five senses is a concrete noun.

Don't confuse a concrete noun with an abstract noun. Not all nouns are concrete. A second class of nouns is abstract. You cannot experience abstract nouns with your senses. Read this example: Diane pushed Reliable off her lap to register her disapproval . Disapproval is an example of an abstract noun. What color is disapproval? You don't know because you cannot see it. What texture is disapproval? Who knows? You cannot touch it. What flavor is disapproval? No clue! You cannot taste it! Does it make a sound? Of course not! Does itsmell? Not a bit! Look over this chart contrasting concrete and abstract nouns:

Concrete Nouns

Abstract Nouns

student fire fighter dog pencil computer

intelligence bravery loyalty eloquence convenience

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The Abstract Noun

Recognize an abstract noun when you see one. Nouns name people, places, and things. One class of nouns is abstract. Your five senses cannot detect this group of nouns. You cannot see them, hear them, smell them, taste them, or feelthem. Check out the following example: When Joseph dived into the violent waves to rescue a drowning puppy, his bravery amazed the crowd of fishermen standing on the dock. Bravery, one of the nouns in this sentence, is an example of an abstract noun. You can seeJoseph, the water, and the crowd. But you cannot see bravery itself. Bravery has no color, size, shape, sound, odor, flavor, or texture; it has no quality that you can see, hear, smell, taste, or touch. Any noun that escapes your five senses is an abstract noun.

Don't confuse an abstract noun with a concrete noun. Many nouns are concrete, not abstract. Concrete nouns register on your five senses. Here is an example: Joseph cuddled the wet puppy under his warm jacket. Puppy is an example of a concrete noun. You can see a puppy, stroke its fur, smell its breath, and listen to it whine. You can even taste the puppy if you don't mind pulling dog hair off your tongue! Because a puppy will register on all five senses, puppy is a concrete noun. Look over this chart contrasting abstract and concrete nouns:

Abstract Nouns

Concrete Nouns

deceit dedication curiosity trust relaxation

the President teacher cat airplane bubble bath