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Proper Noun vs. Common Noun: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Published on December 2, 2023
A proper noun is a specific name of a person, place, or thing (always capitalized), while a common noun is a general name for a person, place, or thing.

Key Differences

Proper nouns are used to name specific entities, uniquely identifying them. While, common nouns refer to general items, without specifying unique entities.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023
Proper nouns are always capitalized as they denote specific names like 'London' or 'Elizabeth'. Whereas, common nouns are not capitalized unless they start a sentence, e.g., 'city', 'woman'.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023
Proper nouns represent individual names, titles, or places, such as 'Amazon River' or 'The Beatles'. However, common nouns encompass a broad category of items, like 'river', 'band'.
Huma Saeed
Dec 02, 2023
In sentences, proper nouns provide exact references, making it clear what is being discussed. Common nouns are used in a more general sense, providing a broad categorization.
Harlon Moss
Dec 02, 2023

Comparison Chart

Specificity

Names specific entities
Refers to general categories
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Dec 02, 2023
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Capitalization

Always capitalized
Not capitalized unless starting a sentence
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Dec 02, 2023

Examples

'New York', 'Shakespeare'
'city', 'writer'
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Dec 02, 2023

Usage in Sentences

Identifies particular individuals/places
Used to denote a general class or type
Aimie Carlson
Dec 02, 2023

Variation

Unique to the entity named
General and can be used widely
Aimie Carlson
Dec 02, 2023

Proper Noun and Common Noun Definitions

Proper Noun

A proper noun is the specific name of a person, place, or thing.
Alice visited Paris last summer.
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Nov 24, 2023
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Common Noun

Represents broad categories or classes.
He drives a truck for a living.
Janet White
Nov 24, 2023

Proper Noun

It also names specific events and dates.
Thanksgiving is celebrated in November in the United States.
Janet White
Nov 24, 2023

Common Noun

It refers to non-specific entities.
She loves reading books.
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Nov 24, 2023

Proper Noun

It uniquely identifies a particular entity.
Mount Everest is the highest mountain in the world.
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Nov 24, 2023

Common Noun

A common noun is a general term for people, places, or things.
The park was full of trees and flowers.
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Nov 24, 2023

Proper Noun

It includes titles of works and names of organizations.
She reads the 'New York Times' every morning.
Harlon Moss
Nov 24, 2023

Common Noun

It can represent general concepts or ideas.
Happiness is important in life.
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Nov 24, 2023

Proper Noun

Proper nouns are always capitalized.
The novel was written by George Orwell.
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Nov 24, 2023

Common Noun

Common nouns are not capitalized unless at the start of a sentence.
Birds migrate south in the winter.
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Nov 24, 2023

FAQs

Can a common noun become a proper noun?

A common noun can become a proper noun if it's part of a specific name, like 'River' in 'Mississippi River'.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023

What is a proper noun?

A proper noun is a specific name for a person, place, or thing, always capitalized.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023

Can the same word be both a proper and a common noun?

Yes, depending on usage, like 'Apple' the company (proper noun) and 'apple' the fruit (common noun).
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Dec 02, 2023

How can I identify a common noun in a sentence?

Common nouns are general names and are not capitalized unless they start a sentence.
Harlon Moss
Dec 02, 2023

What is a common noun?

A common noun is a general name for any person, place, or thing, not usually capitalized.
Huma Saeed
Dec 02, 2023

Are all nouns either proper or common?

Yes, all nouns are categorized as either proper or common.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 02, 2023

Do proper nouns always refer to one-of-a-kind items?

Proper nouns refer to specific, unique entities, but there can be multiple entities with the same name.
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Dec 02, 2023

Are brand names considered proper nouns?

Yes, brand names are proper nouns as they are specific names.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 02, 2023

Do proper nouns have plural forms?

Proper nouns can have plural forms if they refer to multiple entities, like 'The Smiths'.
Harlon Moss
Dec 02, 2023

Why are proper nouns capitalized?

Proper nouns are capitalized to signify that they are specific, unique names.
Janet White
Dec 02, 2023

Are all places' names proper nouns?

Yes, names of specific places are proper nouns.
Janet White
Dec 02, 2023

Are job titles proper nouns?

Job titles are common nouns unless part of a specific name, like 'President Biden'.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 02, 2023

Are all capitalized words proper nouns?

Not always, as words can be capitalized for reasons other than being a proper noun, like at the beginning of sentences.
Harlon Moss
Dec 02, 2023

Are days of the week and months proper nouns?

Yes, days of the week and months are considered proper nouns.
Janet White
Dec 02, 2023

Can a proper noun be used generically?

Sometimes, like 'Kleenex' for tissues, but it's still a proper noun.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 02, 2023

Do proper nouns change in different languages?

Proper nouns usually remain the same across languages but can have different pronunciations.
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Dec 02, 2023

Can a common noun be specific?

While it can refer to specific things, it remains general in nature and is not a unique identifier.
Harlon Moss
Dec 02, 2023

Is 'earth' a proper or a common noun?

It's a common noun when referring to soil or ground, and a proper noun when referring to the planet Earth.
Harlon Moss
Dec 02, 2023

How do proper nouns differ in different cultures?

Proper nouns can vary culturally, especially in terms of names of people and places.
Janet White
Dec 02, 2023

Can a proper noun be abstract?

Yes, if it's the specific name of an abstract concept, like a book title.
Janet White
Dec 02, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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