Introduction to Nouns

  1. Nouns are a diverse group of words, and they are very common in English. Nouns are a category of words defining things—people, places, items, concepts. The video below is brief introduction to them and the role they play:

As we’ve just learned, a noun is the name of a person (Dr. Sanders), place (Lawrence, Kansas; factory; home), thing (scissors, saw, book), or idea (love, truth, beauty, intelligence).

Let’s look at the following examples to get a better idea of how nouns work in sentences. All of the nouns have been bolded:

  • The one experiment that has been given the most attention in the debate on saccharin is the 1977 Canadian study done on rats.
  • The multi-fuel capacity of the Stirling engine gives it a versatility not possible in the internal combustion engine.
  • The regenerative cooling cycle in the engines of the Space Shuttle is made up of high pressure hydrogen that flows in tubes connecting the nozzle and the combustion chamber.

Types of Nouns

Of the many different categories of nouns, a couple deserve closer attention here.

Common vs. Proper Noun

Icon of unshaven, unkempt man's facevs.Icon of man wearing top hat and monocle

Common nouns are generic words, like tissue. They are lower-cased (unless they begin a sentence). A proper noun, on the other hand, is the name of a specific thing, like the brand name Kleenex. Proper nouns are always capitalized.

  • common noun: name
  • proper noun: Ester

Concrete vs. Abstract Noun

icon of brick paversvs. Dotted line forming a rough circle/triangle shape

Concrete nouns are things you can hold, see, or otherwise sense, like booklight, or warmth.

Abstract nouns, on the other hand, are (as you might expect) abstract concepts, like time and love.

  • concrete noun: rock
  • abstract noun: justice

The rest of this section will dig into other types of nouns: count v. non-count nouns, compound nouns, and plural nouns.

Practice

Look at each of the following nouns and determine if they are common or proper and if they are concrete or abstract. For example:

  • justice is a common abstract noun.
Buddhism Robert
cathedral talent