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Types of Noun

Noun is a word to name a person, place or thing. It is basically classified into four categories. However, there are more bases and methods of classification as well. The four basic categories of noun are: Proper Noun, Common Noun, Collective Noun and Abstract noun.

Proper noun: Proper nouns are names but refer to a particular person or thing. Example: Ashoka was a great king. Alexander was a great warrior. Shyam loves his mother. John has a girlfriend. NewYork is among the busiest cities. In these examples, there are names of particular persons included. Ashoka refers to a particular king. Alexander refers to a particular warrior. Shyam refers to a particular person and John too. NewYork means a particular city. You will come across more such examples in daily life where a noun refers to a particular person, place or thing. Even businesses and products like chocolates have names. When somebody talks about your friend, you know which particular person he is talking about by his name.

Common Noun: A common noun does not refer to a particular person, place or thing. Common nouns refer to an entire group of things but do not mistake it for collective nouns. A common noun is a name common to several people, places or things. For examples when you say a country, you could be referring to any country but when you say India then you are referring to a particular country. Country is a common noun and India is a proper noun.

Similarly, America, United Kingdom, Canada, China and South Africa are all proper nouns. A State is a common noun but California is a proper noun. Shirley and Mary are proper nouns but a girl is a common noun. In this way, you can easily find the difference between a proper and a common noun.

By a common noun, you can refer to just anyone in general. Like when you say an animal, you refer to just any animal in general and there are several species of animals on the earth. When you say lion, people know which particular species you are referring to.

You will find several examples of common nouns in your daily life like machine, dress, food, boy, girl, city etc. In some cases, you will also find a proper noun being used as a common noun. For example. This book is the Bible of computer science. He is the Kalidas of modern India.

Collective noun: Collective nouns refer to an entire group of people, places or things. You can easily identify them as names of groups or collections. For example, when somebody says a team, he is referring to a group of players. When somebody says and army, he is referring to a group of soldiers. Other examples include jury, class, committee, nation, crowd, mob and flock. These all are groups or collections like a nation is a group of citizens, a jury is a group of judges, a crowd is a group of people and a flock is a group of animals.

Abstract nouns: An abstract noun is the name of a state, quality or action. They can be considered apart from the person or object they belong to. For example, you can say an honest person and a beautiful girl. However, you can also think of these qualities as distinct from the person or object that they belong to like honesty and beauty. Strength, beauty, bravery, honesty are all qualities or states that can be thought of apart from the person or object they belong to. The meaning of abstract is something that exists in a thought and does not have a physical existence. You think of a soldier’s bravery and a great leader’s honesty or even a girl’s beauty. These are all states or qualities. Bravery, honesty, beauty, courage and greatness are all qualities that can be thought of as apart from the person or object they belong to.

  1. The crowd was very big. Crowd – collective noun.
  2. Always speak the truth. Truth – Abstract noun.
  3. We all love honesty. Honesty – abstract noun (love is a verb)
  4. Our class consists of twenty pupils. – Class – collective noun, Pupils – common noun.
  5. The elephant has great strength. – (Elephant – common noun that refers to a particular class of animals, bulky in size and having tusks) strength – abstract noun. Strength is a quality. However, instead of trying to associate it with a specific thing or an animal like elephant, you can think of strength as a quality. You say a strong animal or a strong heart, but you can think of strength alone as a quality.
  6. Solomon was famous for his wisdom. – Solomon – proper noun. Wisdom – is an abstract noun.
  7. Cleanliness is next to godliness. Cleanliness and godliness are both qualities and abstract nouns.
  8. We saw a fleet of ships in the harbour. – A fleet is a group of ships or a collective noun while ship and harbour are both common nouns.
  9. The class is studying grammar. Class is a group of pupils and so a collective noun whereas names of arts and sciences like grammar, music, painting or chemistry and physics are abstract nouns.
  10. The Godavary overflows its banks every year. Godavary is a proper noun, referring to a particular river that flows in India. Its bank is also a noun but a common noun because all rivers have banks.
  11. A committee of five was appointed. Committee – collective noun.
  12. Jawaharlal Nehru was the first Prime Minister of India. (Jawaharlal Nehru and India are proper nouns whereas Prime Minister is a common noun.)
  13. The soldiers were rewarded for their bravery. – Soldiers – common noun, Bravery – abstract noun.
  14. Without health there is no happiness. Health and happiness and qualities or state. One can think of them as apart from the object they belong to. There can be a healthy and happy child and one can also think of happiness and health as distinct from the child.
  15. He gave me a bunch of grapes. Bunch – collection or a collective noun. grapes – name of a variety of fruits or proper noun.
  16. I recognized your voice at once. Voice an abstract noun ( you can think of voice and sound as distinct from any object)
  17. Our team is better than theirs. Team – a collective noun refers to a group of players.
  18. Never tell a lie. Lie – Truth and lie are abstract nouns.
  19. Wisdom is better than strength. Wisdom and strength are both abstract nouns.
  20. He sets a high value on his time. – Value and time are abstract nouns.
  21. I believe in his innocence. Innocence – abstract noun.
  22. This room is thirty feet in length. (Length is something you can associate with a room or think of independently.)
  23. I often think of the happy days of childhood. Childhood – abstract noun, days – common noun.
  24. The streets of some of our cities are noted for their crookedness. Streets and cities are common nouns, whereas crookedness is an abstract noun. You know it as a quality and can think of it without associating it with some specific object.
  25. What is your verdict, gentlemen of the jury? Verdict – Abstract noun. gentlemen- common noun and jury a collective noun.

Abstract nouns can be formed from common nouns, verbs and objectives. Like action and acting, child and childhood, good and goodness. Action is a verb, child is a common noun and good is an adjective.

Apart from the above classifications, nouns are also classified as countable or uncountable. Countable nouns are the names of things you can count whereas uncountable noun are the names of things you cannot count. It is also why while the countable nouns have plural forms whereas the uncountable nouns do not have any. Their singular and plural forms are the same like Milk and honey. However, you count books and even rivers.

Write collective nouns to describe the group of following:

  • Cattle: Herd.
  • Sailors: Crew
  • Soldiers: Army
  • Pupils : Class
  • Citizens: Nation
  • Officers: Mess
  • Judge: Jury
  • Player: team
  • Worker: gang
  • Thieves: Gang

Note the qualities related to following adjectives:

Lazy: Laziness

Cruel: Cruelty

Brave: Bravery

Foolish: Foolishness

Forming abstract nouns from adjectives:

  • young : Youth
  • humble : Humility
  • decent : Decency
  • cruel : Cruelty
  • bitter : Bitterness
  • strong : Strength
  • true : truth
  • short : Shortness
  • prudent : Prudence
  • dark : darkness
  • deep : Depth
  • wide : Width
  • wise : Wisdom
  • good : Goodness
  • vacant : vacancy
  • sweet : Sweetness
  • human : Humanity
  • broad : Breadth
  • free : Freedom
  • proud : Pride
  • brave : bravery
  • novel : Novelty
  • quick : Quickness
  • high : height
  • poor : Poverty
  • just : Justice
  • vain : Vanity
  • sane : sanity
  • Ignorant : Ignorance

Forming abstract nouns from verbs:

Laugh: Laughter
obey: Obedience
live: Life
expect: expectation
excel: Excellence
know: Knowledge
steal: Stealth
Believe: belief
Serve: Service
Hate: Hatred
Please: Pleasure
Act: Action
Starve: Starvation
Occupy: Occupation
Choose: Choice
Move: Movement, Motion
Conceal: concealment
Seize: Seizure

Flatter: Flattery
Depart: Departure
Persevere: Perseverance
Defend: Defence
Think: Thought
Protect: Protections
Advise: Advice
Punish: Punishment
Die: Death
Succeed: Success
Free: Freedom
See: sight
Judge: Judgment
Pursue: Pursuance
Relieve: Relief
Converse: Conversation
Discover: Discovery

Forming abstract nouns from common nouns:

King: Kingship
Man: Manhood
Thief: theft
Woman: womanhood
Bankrupt: Bankruptcy
Infant: Infancy
Owner: ownership
Rogue: roguery
Regent: regency
Author: Authorship
Mother: Motherhood
Agent: Agency
Hero: heroism
Beggar:
Coward: Cowardice
Priest: Priesthood
Boy: Boyhood
Bond: Bonding
Pirate: Piracy
Pilgrim: Pilgrimage
Friend: Friendship
Caption: captioning
Rascal: rascality
Patriot: Patriotism

Glutton: Gluttony

Written by Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.

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