What is a Proper Noun? - Examples & Definition Video

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: What are the Different Types of Numbers?

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Definition of Proper Nouns
  • 0:57 Examples of Proper Nouns
  • 4:07 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Patricia Vineski
In this lesson, you'll learn what a proper noun is, how to tell a proper noun from a common noun, and how to make your writing clearer and more interesting. Take a look at some examples, and then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Definition of Proper Nouns

We all have names. Whether you are a Patricia, a Jonathan, a Dustin, or a Mary, you go by some type of name. Because our names refer specifically to us, they are proper nouns. We also have specific places where we like to shop or have fun. You might like to shop at Walmart or Whole Foods Market or have fun at Jake's Skateboard Park or Yellowstone National Park. Because these names refer to specific places, they, too, are proper nouns.

Even the names of the sneakers we wear, and the pain relievers we buy, because they refer to a specific brand name - Nike, Reebok, Bayer, or Tylenol - are all proper nouns. So are the names of streets, states, rivers, oceans, countries, companies, institutions, churches, and the titles that come before a person's name that refer to a specific rank held within an organization.

A proper noun names a specific person, place, or thing and is always capitalized.

Examples of Proper Nouns

One of the easiest ways to understand proper nouns is to compare them with common nouns. While a common noun refers to the general names of people, places, and things, a proper noun refers to the specific names of people, places, and things.

For example, examine the following sentence: 'Every man was dressed in uniform, but James was by far the most dashing.' The noun 'man' refers generally to any and every man and is, therefore, a common noun. The noun 'James' refers to a specific man and is a proper noun.

While a common noun is not capitalized, proper nouns are always capitalized. For example, look at the following sentence: 'When we go to our favorite restaurant, Applebee's, we always ask for Betty, our favorite waitress.' In this sentence, 'restaurant' and 'waitress' refer generally to any and every restaurant or any and every waitress. This means they are common nouns and are not capitalized. But, because 'Applebee's' and 'Betty' refer to a specific restaurant and a specific waitress, they are proper nouns and are always capitalized.

The names of states and cities are proper nouns. For example, in the sentence, 'I was born in Danville, Virginia,' the name of the city and the state are proper nouns because they refer to a specific city, 'Danville,' and a specific state, 'Virginia.'

The names of rivers and lakes are proper nouns. For example, in the sentence, 'We swam in Lake Tahoe and rafted down the Colorado River on our vacation this year,' the name of the lake and the river are proper nouns because they refer to a specific lake, 'Lake Tahoe,' and a specific river, the 'Colorado River.'

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account