Difference Between a Common Noun & Proper Noun

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  • 0:03 Common & Proper Nouns
  • 0:36 Common Nouns
  • 1:13 Proper Nouns
  • 2:18 Common vs. Proper Nouns
  • 2:58 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lindsey Hays

Lindsey has taught Elementary Education, Spanish immersion, and ESL. She has a MS in Elementary Education with a BA in Spanish.

Every noun can be classified into two categories: common or proper. In this lesson, we'll sort through some nouns and decide just what makes nouns common or proper.

Common & Proper Nouns

Think of the title of your favorite show, movie, game, or book. These titles are all examples of proper nouns. Whether it's Harry Potter, or Minecraft, Star Wars, or Wild Kratts, these are specific names of things. Remember that a noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. Every noun can be divided into two categories: common nouns or proper nouns. Let's take a look at some definitions and examples of common and proper nouns.

Common Nouns

Common nouns name general people, places, or things. The words: 'show,' 'movie,' 'game,' and 'book' are common nouns, since there are lots of them. When you use the word 'movie,' you could be talking about several different movies. In this way, common nouns are more general. Some examples include:

  • People: president or singer
  • Place: country or museum
  • Thing: dog or car

Common nouns do not need capital letters unless they are part of a title or the start of a sentence.

Proper Nouns

Proper nouns name specific people, places, or things. Proper nouns require capital letters. While common nouns are general, proper nouns are specific and name one particular person, place, or thing, like the book Harry Potter or the movie Star Wars. Here are some examples of proper nouns:

  • People: Barack Obama or Taylor Swift
  • Place: The United States of America or The Smithsonian Museum
  • Thing: Lassie or Porsche

Proper nouns name unique things. Are you unique? Of course you are! So, although you may never have given it any thought, even your name is a proper noun - that is why it is capitalized. Other popular proper nouns include: specific states, countries, continents, street names, days of the week, months of the year, holidays, businesses, stores, and schools. All of these proper nouns must be capitalized.

Common vs. Proper Nouns

Look at these comparisons of common and proper nouns:

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