A common noun is the opposite of a proper noun. It means that a common noun can be any person, place or a thing which is not specific; that is why we do not need to start it with a capital letter. For example,
You can see in the above examples, there is a person ‘boy’, things ‘pencils, bed, house, and car’, and animal ‘cats’. So, a common noun can be singular or plural like, cat-cats, pencil-pencils, boy-boys, etc.
More about Common Nouns
There are a few categories of a common noun. Let me list them for you.
• Countable Nouns: The things that you can count are known as countable nouns. For example, pens, animals, girls, cities, dresses, etc.
• Non-countable Nouns: The things that you cannot count are non-countable nouns. For example, water, air, carbon dioxide, sound, etc.
• Abstract Nouns: Things that you can touch or see are called abstract nouns. For example, love, courage, passion, etc.
• Concrete Nouns: Things that you can touch or see are concrete nouns. For example, book, bag, chair, etc.
• Collective Nouns: A collective noun represents a group. For example, family, army, staff, etc.
• Compound Nouns: The nouns that contain more than one noun are called compound nouns. For example, martial-law, waterfall, etc.
• Verbal Nouns: A verbal noun shows action (verb). For example, cooking, writing, walking, etc.
• Gender-specific Nouns: Nouns that are gender-specific (male or female) are called gender-specific nouns. For example, sister, son, actor, etc.
Common Noun vs. Proper Noun
Common Noun: You can only capitalize a common noun when it comes at the beginning of a sentence. Otherwise, you do not need to capitalize a common noun within a sentence. For example,
1. Boys are playing in the playground. (Correct)
2. The boys were asked to play in the playground. (Correct)
Both of the above examples are correct. In the first example, ‘boys’ is capitalized because it is the very first word of the sentence. It may not be capitalized when it comes within a sentence, just like in the second example.
See an incorrect sentence below.
• The Boys were asked to play in the playground. (Incorrect)
Proper Noun: The opposite of a common noun is a proper noun, that can be any person, place, or a thing which is specific or particular. It is necessary to capitalize a proper noun whether it comes at the beginning or within a sentence because it always refers to a specific person, place, thing, or an idea. It can be the names of days or months; or any title of a book, movies, or plays. For example,
- Albert Einstein
- Pacific Ocean
- The Oxford University
- Romeo and Juliet
Let us check out the use of proper nouns within a sentence.
1. They were talking about Simon, who is my best friend.
2. You are as smart as Albert Einstein.
3. I love eating Nutella; the yummiest of all.
So, a common noun can be any place, person, thing, or an idea which is not specific like a proper noun. This is the reason that you do not capitalize a common noun. You should only capitalize it when it comes at the beginning of a sentence.