What are Exact Nouns? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Summer Stewart

Summer has taught creative writing and sciences at the college level. She holds an MFA in Creative writing and a B.A.S. in English and Nutrition

Writing becomes more powerful when precise and informative language is used. Exact nouns turn a generic sentence into a clear and unique sentence that conveys specific meaning. In this lesson, we will learn about exact nouns through a variety of examples.

What Are Exact Nouns?

An exact noun is a noun that is specific rather than generic. For example, the words 'dog,' 'cat,' and 'bird' are common nouns that can refer to any of those creatures. On the other hand, the words 'beagle,' 'tabby,' and 'raven' are exact nouns because they refer to a specific type of those particular common nouns. Exact nouns are preferred in writing because they are more precise. In this lesson, we will learn about exact nouns through several examples and talk about why they are important.

Exact Nouns Range in Specificity

Exact nouns range in specificity, as you can see in the examples below. An exact noun can be a more specific version of a common noun or it can be a proper noun. However, it is important to know that all proper nouns can be replaced by common nouns, but not all common nouns have a proper noun available. In that case, there is usually a more specific noun available for use.

Why Do Exact Nouns Matter?

Exact nouns are important because they take boring, generic writing to the next level. When you use a specific word to name a person, place, or thing, you are giving readers a better visual aid to imagine what you are saying. Not only that, but choosing to use an exact noun versus a common noun adds specificity to your work, thereby increasing its uniqueness. Take a look at these examples to see how a passage changes when you use exact nouns instead of common nouns.

Example 1

Passage with common nouns:

The girls went to the place to buy some stuff. After they got the stuff, they walked down the street and ate some food at a restaurant. Once they were done eating, they went to play a game.

Passage with exact nouns:

The girls went to the toy store to buy some sidewalk chalk. After they bought the chalk, they walked down First Avenue and ate some nachos at Taco Bell. Once they were done eating, they went to play hopscotch.

Do you seen how much better the passage with the exact nouns is in comparison to the preceding passage? The second passage paints a picture for the reader, showing us where they went, what they bought, what they ate, and what game they played. By using exact nouns, a sense of purpose surfaces from the passage.

Example 2

Passage with common nouns:

Two boys drove to the city to meet with friends. They met them in front of a store. Afterwards, they walked to the park and looked at the sights. In the evening, they went to dinner at a restaurant and ate some food. Once they left the restaurant, they spent the night at a hotel.

Passage with exact nouns:

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