Types of Nouns

What are Types of Nouns?

Nouns are a part of speech that include all names of people, places, things, and ideas. They are among the most important words for sentence construction and English communication. There are many types and sub-types of nouns, most of which are paired to classify two complementary functions. Read along to learn all types of nouns, their definitions, and how they function in sentences. Note that most nouns can be classified into at least two types.

1. Common Nouns

The general names of everything – people, places, things, ideas – are all common nouns. They’re never capitalized except when they are at the beginning of sentences and on the rare occasions when they’re emphasized or stylized in writing. Some examples of common nouns are girl, king, country, actor, book, etc.

2. Proper Nouns

Paired with common nouns as the most basic noun classifications, proper nouns are specific names of people, places, or things. These nouns begin with capital letters. Some examples of proper nouns are Fiona, King Richard, Spain, Chris Evans, Kafka on the Shore, etc.

3. Singular Nouns

Nouns are also classified by how many they are. A singular noun refers to a single person, place, or thing. For example apple, house, bench, lady, cat, etc.

4. Plural Nouns

Plural nouns refer to nouns that are more than one in number. To form them, we add the suffixes –s or –es after most nouns. For example apples, houses, benches, ladies, cats, etc. These are also called regular nouns. Their opposite, irregular nouns, change spelling in their plural forms such as mouse (from mice), children (from child), tooth (from teeth), and so on. Some irregular nouns don’t change spelling in their singular and plural forms such as offspring, deer, species, etc.

5. Countable Nouns

As the name suggests, count nouns are nouns that can be counted such as oranges, eggs, offices, boxes, chickens, etc.

6. Uncountable Nouns (Mass nouns or non-count nouns)

Uncountable nouns are the opposite of countable nouns. Simply put, these are nouns that you simply can’t count. For example sand, happiness, luggage, milk, seafood, etc.

7. Concrete Nouns

Nouns that are “sensory” words (those that can be perceived through one or more of the five senses) are called concrete nouns. For example folder, bottle, cup, cabinet, pencil, and so on.

8. Abstract Nouns

Nouns that are intangible or immaterial, which means we can’t see, hear, smell, touch, or taste them, are called abstract nouns. They don’t represent physical forms, but ideas and qualities instead. Some abstract nouns are bravery, hatred, perception, freedom, love, etc.

9. Collective Nouns

A collective noun follows the rules of singular nouns but actually refers to groups of people or things. In other words, a collective noun functions as a singular unit despite its meanings. For example team, family, crowd, bouquet, choir, etc.

10. Compound Nouns

Compound nouns are combinations of two or more words. They don’t always have to be two nouns and are treated as single units. They can appear as two separate words, one-word blends, or hyphenated. For example fire truck, haircut, and dry-cleaning.

Types of Nouns Rules

Nouns have three major functions in sentences. They can be subjects, objects, and complements.

Nouns as subjectsNouns that are used as subjects usually come at the beginning of sentences and usually before the main verbs. For example:

– Arashi called the office again.
– My English professor accused me of copying my essay.
– The resort was above our budget but my aunt said she would foot the bill.
Nouns as ObjectsNouns that are used as objects come in the second half of sentences and usually after verbs. They can function as direct or indirect objects.

Direct objects can be identified by asking the question who/m or what. They receive the actions of the main verbs. For example:

– Cindy called Dianne in the morning.
– Let’s get pizza.
– Do you want my advice?

Indirect objects are nouns that receive direct objects. For example:

– Kiana passed Sally the stuffing. (“stuffing” receives the action of the verb “pass”, and “Sally” is receiving the stuffing)
– We told Min Jung our secret. (“secret” receives the action of the verb “told”, and “Min Jung” is receiving the direct object)
– Sammy’s dad will send Grandma a postcard. (“postcard” receives the action of the verb “will send”, and “Grandma” is receiving the stuffing)
Nouns as ComplementsWhen nouns are used to describe other nouns, they function as complements.

Nouns that appear after linking verbs and modify the subjects of sentences are called subject complements. They usually refer to professions and positions. For example:

– Tom works as a doctor at the new hospital.
– Yoona is a chef here.
– Jamal is the new manager of our Talisay location.

Object complements follow direct objects and provide more information about them. For example:

– My little sister named our car Lemon.
– They showed the painting The Mischief.
– We elected Tabitha as class leader.
Types of Nouns Rules Table
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Examples of Types of Nouns

1. Common Nouns

  • He applied for a job as a hotel psychic and got it, funnily enough.
  • Excuse us, we’re trying to have an argument here.
  • Wait a minute, I need your help.
  • What will you do if she suddenly showed up at your doorstep?
  • According to them, if you don’t get buried properly after three days, your soul will be condemned.

2. Proper Nouns

  • My name is Mark, and I am not a drunk.
  • It’s open to tourists, but it’s prohibited to go up the Jade Steps to the Sky.
  • R.A.’s book, Melancholy Boy, sold a hundred thousand copies in its first week.
  • Chicken Delihas over 30 branches in the region.
  • Didn’t you grow up with Cinderella and all the usual fairy tales?

3. Singular Nouns

  • This is the only slice of cake left.
  • There was one necklace from the shop that I really liked.
  • His apartment is only a block away from where I work.
  • I opened the window to let the room air out.
  • Can you do me a favor and give me a ride to the store?

4. Plural Nouns

  • They’re giving free scholarships to the children in the district.
  • These are my grandfather’s recipes and I’d like you to try them.
  • Family celebrations are important so just come even if you don’t feel like it.
  • I was flipping through different TV channels all afternoon.
  • She’s got so many books and nowhere in her new place to put them.

5. Countable Nouns

  • Where did she keep the keys to the old house?
  • There are mornings when the crows show up at my bedroom window.
  • How many tokens do we need to use on this machine?
  • Flowers bloom like wildfire on the mountainside in June.
  • I was trying to smile bravely through the tears.

6. Uncountable Nouns (Mass nouns or non-count nouns)

  • You can wash your hair outside while they fix the bathroom.
  • The kids loved to play on the sand so Jeremy stayed to watch them.
  • How much salt did you put in the pot?
  • Sometimes the loneliness is palpable, so it’s important to keep a sense of humor.
  • We’ve had so much rain in the past few days, everyone’s afraid of another flood.

7. Concrete Nouns

  • The couple is interested in this type of outdoor tile.
  • Have you been watching TV since this morning?
  • Would be interested to see some of our brochures?
  • The car almost hit the pole because of the slippery road.
  • Actually, the cathedral’s design dates back to the 1500s.

8. Abstract Nouns

  • Myka couldn’t sleep well because of the commotion at his neighbor’s house.
  • They said they’d never seen a talent like hers among contemporary artists.
  • Those people are stuck to their old beliefs and still impose marriage on everyone.
  • There’s a rumor going around that Jeff will leave the company soon.
  • It’s difficult to feel sympathy for people who have treated me horribly in the past.

9. Collective Nouns

  • This is where the crew can eat while the wedding reception is ongoing.
  • Just wait until Mr. Velarde gets here because he has good news for the team.
  • We were driving through the countryside when we came upon a huge flock of sheep.
  • A horde of zombies began pursuing them through the abandoned prison.
  • They marketed to the right audience and found great success.

10. Compound Nouns

  • If I receive a new smartphone on Christmas I will dance on the moon.
  • The current editor-in-chief is trying to raise the writers’ salaries.
  • That’s the district attorney who was on the news a week ago.
  • So I’ve decided I’m overweight and will try a new diet starting tomorrow.
  • Smear some peanut butter on the marinade, you won’t regret it.

Types of Nouns Exercises with Answers

Exercise on Types of Nouns

Identify the nouns in bold in the following sentence. Pick the correct type from the choices given.

1. She left her pen on the desk.

a. common noun
b. proper noun
c. collective noun

2. Hatred is a toxic emotion.

a. proper noun
b. collective noun
c. abstract noun

3. A flock of birds is causing inconvenience to the town.

a. abstract noun
b. collective noun
c. uncountable noun

4. The committee will make a decision by noon.

a. countable noun
b. collective noun
c. uncountable noun

5. President Hayward announced his new cabinet.

a. abstract noun
b. proper noun
c. collective noun

6. The keypad should be on the bottom compartment.

a. proper noun
b. abstract noun
c. compound noun

7. There are wild animals in the woods.

a. collective noun
b. abstract noun
c. plural noun

8. Love, at first sight, is just exaggerated infatuation.

a. abstract noun
b. collective noun
c. compound noun

9. Thunder was roaring in the distance.

a. proper noun
b. uncountable noun
c. collective noun

10. Talula performed the dance last night.

a. abstract noun
b. proper noun
c. collective noun


1. pen: a. common noun

2. emotion: c. abstract noun

3. flock: b. collective noun

4. decision: a. countable noun

5. President Hayward: b. proper noun

6. keypad: c. compound noun

7. animals: c. plural noun

8. infatuation: a. abstract noun

9. thunder: b. uncountable noun

10. Talula b: proper noun

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Types of Nouns List

The following table lists more examples of nouns in several types. We’ve excluded singular and plural nouns as they are most apparent and quite obvious.

Noun TypesExamples
Common Nounscharacter, entrepreneur, monarch, town, country, book, ocean
Proper NounsDaisy Johnson, Bill Gates, King Charles, Macondo, Scotland, The Book Thief, Atlantic Ocean
Countablemanager, fruits, benches, cities, door, window, island
Uncountablesunshine, rust, concrete, honey, peace, yoga, wine
Concretetablets, medicine, cups, water, beaches, towel, coconut
Abstractweakness, loyalty, honor, tolerance, elegance, apprehension, chaos
Collectivepile, pack, herd, heap, board, navy, staff
Compoundice cream, checkpoints, input, ex-husband, chit-chat, bus stop, train stations
Noun Types Examples Table

Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

Nouns are viewed as the main elements of the English language. After all, they represent everything that exists in the world. Because of their volume, types, functions, and rules, English language learners find mastering them challenging at times. Luckily, there are some essential methods that can make studying languages more straightforward, not only with nouns but with every grammatical topic. Take into account the following guidelines which could help you reach your language objectives.

1. Use Grammar Lists

Few grammar tools can work as well as grammar guides (lists, tables, charts, and diagrams). While they certainly aren’t the only method for studying efficiently, these tools are valuable in introducing grammar concepts. One of their advantages is that the subjects are simplified to their essentials. With this, the grammar topics are much easier to understand and remember. Another advantage is that they almost always include sentence samples that can help vocabulary building and sentence construction. Pick the ones that work for you, and if you can’t find any, you can create your own lists, which work even better because you can customize them according to your own learning process.

2. Use Audio-Visual Resources

Receiving instruction for English at school is not exactly adequate to obtain fluency. Private learning is still necessary. To optimize the advantages of self-studying, you need the right resources. Incorporating audio-visual materials into your studies is greatly beneficial. Plenty of exposure to English media can exhibit how both native and non-native English speakers apply the language in a variety of contexts. Watching TV series, films, and social media posts, and listening to podcasts or using interactive tools should be done with the purpose of learning in mind. You will become more aware of language components and put them to effective use.

3. Practical Use

“Theory means nothing without practice,” as the saying goes. This is notable in learning English. Your teachers are only guides and won’t be present to use the language for you. An effective way to develop your proficiency, then, is to use English whenever the opportunity arises. You may know someone who has perfect grammar but has difficulty speaking. This is usually because much of their learning time is spent on books and not in practical English conversations. Of course, not all English learners live in areas where English is widely spoken or used, but there’s always a way to make an English environment for yourself. Remember that the only real path to fluency in speaking is to talk. You can put together a study group with fellow learners and nurture friendships with both native and non-native speakers. Constant English conversations will improve your language levels in a significant way.

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Common Errors Made by English Learners

Most errors regarding nouns that are made by English students stem from rules that are commonly forgotten, mixed up, or carelessly ignored. 

Rules to RememberExplanation
Subject-Verb AgreementMake sure you’re using the right verb forms to match the subjects of sentences. This rule can be confusing because singular nouns add the -s or -es suffixes in their plural forms. While verbs do it in their singular forms. Match your subjects appropriately at all times.
PluralizationIt’s crucial to distinguish between countable and uncountable nouns to apply pluralization rules effectively. Take note that collective and abstract nouns can be plurals in some contexts.
Using Articles a, an, and theNouns almost always come with articles. We use the indefinite articles “a” or “an” for singular nouns, and “the” for both singular and plural nouns. We use “an” with nouns that start with vowel sounds – not letters, which is where the confusion comes from. The word “hour” starts with a vowel sound, so we say “an hour” even though it begins with a consonant. We use “a” with words that start with consonant sounds. For example, the word “university.”
Noun Types Common Errors Table

Learning Strategies and Best Practices with Types of Nouns

Follow these tips to ensure that you can identify types of nouns and follow their rules accurately:

1. Common nouns aren’t capitalized unless used to start sentences. Proper nouns are always capitalized.

2. Some nouns have no plural forms. For example money, information, furniture, and many others.

3. Some nouns look plural but are actually singular. For example billiards, news, physics, etc.

4. Some nouns only have plural forms and can’t be used as singular nouns. For example jeans, headphones, scissors, etc.

5. Sensory nouns are concrete, and “concept” nouns are abstract. Take note that some abstract nouns can be perceived through actions we can observe. For example, we all know what love looks like from the behavior of people who feel it, but the word itself doesn’t have a physical form.

6. Count nouns use quantifiers that signify numbers (e.g. very few, a number of, etc.). Mass nouns use quantifiers that signify amount (e.g. much, a bit of, etc.).

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Types of Nouns Frequently Asked Questions

This depends on what book you’re reading, as it varies arbitrarily. Some references list singular and plural nouns as their own types, while some list them as sub-types of common and proper nouns. Some references don’t list them at all.

But here are the types of nouns covered by most books, which you will encounter at some point or other: common and proper nouns; countable and uncountable (mass) nouns, concrete and abstract nouns, collective nouns, compound nouns, and singular and plural nouns. You may encounter resources that include gerunds as noun types, but they are technically derivatives of verbs that function as nouns.

Yes. Any specific name is a proper noun and must be capitalized. Unless the brand and their product names are stylized to retain lowercase letters (like iPhone, for example).

Not always. But first, you have to know if they are countable in the context of the sentence. Abstract nouns are almost always uncountable when used generally, so they are always uncountable. But when used specifically, they can be used in their plural form. Furthermore, abstract nouns can be quantified, which is a way to pluralize them.

Mass nouns or uncountable nouns can’t be counted, e.g. water, milk, peace, love, rice, and so on. Collective nouns, on the other hand, are nouns that refer to groups of people, animals, or things such as herd, troupe, committee, panel, family, and so on. Mass nouns have no plural form and always use singular verbs. 

Proper nouns pertain to specific names. A watermelon, by default, isn’t specific. It’s an example and a general name of a type of fruit and refers to all watermelons, not just a particular one. But if you’re referring to a specific kind of watermelon like the Square Watermelon or the Bush Watermelon, then the names are proper nouns.

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