Nouns are one of the most basic parts of speech in the English language, and the same is true for many other languages as well. However, there are different types of nouns, and they come in forms that you might use in various situations, including instances when you speak or want to write complete sentences. As a resource for teachers and students, our guide below will take you through one form of noun structures in English. We call them common nouns. As the name suggests, you might think of them as the most basic form of the noun in English. It is helpful to be able to identify and use these kinds of nouns in speech or writing, so we will list some of the examples in which you may find them. Along the way, we will also go over some topics that relate to common nouns in a big way.
Although our guide will maintain its focus on common nouns, we may contrast them with other noun types in some of the examples we will provide here. We will do this as a way to cement the differences in noun classification in the minds of our readers. This guide should serve as a helpful resource to teachers, and we intend for it to be useful to many students at the middle and high school educational levels. Further, we will use simple yet concrete examples to help ESL learners understand what these kinds of nouns are, particularly as they will have the same concepts in their own languages.
Before we get into the common noun examples that we have in mind, we should distinguish them from other types you might find in English. Broadly speaking, a common noun is any one that is not a proper noun. All nouns serve to name either a person, place, or thing. However, a proper noun names specific versions of anything that might fall into one of these three categories. For anything more general, you are dealing with an example of a common noun. We can provide examples that further break down this general classification later.
For the most part, anything that does not have a proper name or title is something you can put in the common category of nouns. As an example, consider some of the familial relationships that you might have. If you have an aunt or uncle, you could refer to them in speech or writing as my aunt or my uncle. As you write this out, you would use the general, lowercase version of the noun to denote who this person is, and this is a common noun example in action. You’re using the lowercase here because, although you are referring to a specific person, you are not doing so by name or title directly. In contrast, you could capitalize the title if you wanted to say that Aunt Edna and Uncle Roger are coming over to the house today. The noun has now changed its form, and it is no longer common.
Yes, we can divide nouns into several subcategories for learning purposes. While proper and common are two areas that you might see as the main types of nouns, you can further divide them. Some examples of common nouns that you can put into different groups include countable, uncountable, abstract, concrete, and collective nouns for groups. It is important to note that some nouns in any of these classifications could serve as nouns that are not common, too.
To dig a little deeper, consider the words crab and tea. One is countable, but you can't count the other one. However, they are both still common noun examples that you would simply put in their own subcategories. The same is true for words like office or anger. Both of these words express concrete and abstract things, respectively, but they are still an expression of general rather than specific nouns.
A typical common noun can take on various roles within the structure of a sentence. The subject may be the place where you see such a noun the most. For example, The child painted a picture sees the noun child, denoting a general person, acting as the subject. Additionally, picture is also a common noun example in the same sentence, but it takes the form of a direct object. If we follow this sentence with the child showed the parents a finished picture, then we see that the word parents is another example of this type of noun, and it takes the form of an indirect object here.
Examples of common nouns are everywhere in the writing that we see almost every day. Therefore, it shouldn’t take you long to start recognizing them automatically, including the different ways in which you can incorporate them into a sentence. As a final note, remember that all proper nouns should have common equivalents, but the reverse isn’t necessarily true.