One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Types of noun
There are several different types of noun, as follows:
A common noun is a noun that refers to people or things in general, e.g. boy, country, bridge, city, birth, day, happiness.
A proper noun is a name that identifies a particular person, place, or thing, e.g. Steven, Africa, London, Monday. In written English, proper nouns begin with capital letters.
A concrete noun is a noun which refers to people and to things that exist physically and can be seen, touched, smelled, heard, or tasted. Examples include dog, building, coffee, tree, rain, beach, tune.
An abstract noun is a noun which refers to ideas, qualities, and conditions - things that cannot be seen or touched and things which have no physical reality, e.g. truth, danger, happiness, time, friendship, humour.
Collective nouns refer to groups of people or things, e.g. audience, family, government, team, jury. In American English, most collective nouns are treated as singular, with a singular verb:
The whole family was at the table.
In British English, the preceding sentence would be correct, but it would also be correct to treat the collective noun as a plural, with a plural verb:
The whole family were at the table.
For more information about this, see matching verbs to collective nouns.
A noun may belong to more than one category. For example, happiness is both a common noun and an abstract noun, while Mount Everest is both a concrete noun and a proper noun.
Count and mass nouns
Nouns can be either countable or uncountable. Countable nouns (or count nouns) are those that refer to something that can be counted. Uncountable nouns (or mass nouns) do not typically refer to things that can be counted and so they do not regularly have a plural form.
Find out more about count and mass nouns.
Back to word classes (or parts of speech).
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