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Noun Types in English Grammar


Nouns are naming words which make up the most common category of words in the English language. Within this category there are several different types of nouns with specific roles to play.

Grammar Corner Noun Types in English Grammar


Nouns are the most common type of word in the English language and therefore make up a large part of EFL language lessons, particularly in lower level classes. As an EFL teacher it is recommended that you have a solid understanding of the different types of nouns so you can help your students make rapid progress in this area of grammar.

Common Nouns

Common nouns are used to name a GENERAL type of person, place or thing.

Common nouns can be divided into smaller classes such as countable and uncountable nouns, concrete and abstract nouns, and collective nouns.

Examples of common nouns: man, town, vegetable, friend, building, water.

Proper Nouns

Proper nouns are used to name a SPECIFIC person, place or thing and always start with a capital letter. Proper nouns are rarely preceded by a determiner (e.g. the Paris, the John etc.) though there are some exceptions (e.g. is he the John that won the first prize?).

Examples of proper nouns: Jane, Rome, Jupiter, Friday, Italy.

Compound Nouns

Compound nouns are two or more words that create a noun. They can be one word (rainfall), joined by a hyphen (hanger-on) or separate words (water tank). The main stress is normally on the first part of the compound word (bedroom, washing machine).

Examples of compound nouns: motorcycle, policeman, boyfriend, passer-by, take-off, driving licence, swimming pool.

Countable Nouns

Countable nouns are nouns that CAN be counted. They have a singular and a plural form and can be used with a number.

Examples of countable nouns: bus, table, fork, shed, ear, bird.

Uncountable Nouns

Uncountable nouns are nouns that CANNOT be counted. They often refer to specific subjects such as substances, liquids, gases, and abstract ideas.

Examples of uncountable nouns: wine, tea, meat, grit, air, oxygen, silver, happiness.

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns are words that refer to a set or group of people, animals or things.

Examples of collective nouns: gang, team, crew, shoal, pack, bunch.

Concrete Nouns

Concrete nouns refer to people and things that exist physically and can be detected by our senses (seen, felt, heard, smelled, or tasted).

Examples of concrete nouns: cat, flower, orange, plate, shoe, pen, rain.

Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns are nouns that have no physical existence, but refer to ideas, emotions or concepts. Abstract nouns are typically uncountable.

Examples of abstract nouns: anger, stress, peace, honesty, faith, energy, adventure.


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