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Level 1: Lesson 5


Level 1 is the first workbook in the elementary series. Lesson 5 teaches about common and proper nouns. Common nouns name general, generic persons, places, things, and ideas. Proper nouns name specific persons, places, things, and ideas.

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A Form-Function English Grammar

Level 1

Lesson 5

Common Nouns and Proper Nouns

What are common and proper nouns?

Remember that notional grammars define the noun as a word that names a person, place, thing, or idea. Most nouns have singular and plural forms. The determiner the can go with most nouns.

Nouns can also be sorted into two groups: common nouns and proper nouns.

A common noun names a general, generic person, place, thing, or idea.

A proper noun names a specific person, place, thing, or idea.

For example, the noun jam is a common noun. Jam is a general, generic thing, a food made from fruit and sugar. The noun Smucker’s is a proper noun. Smucker’s is a specific brand of jam.

Common nouns are usually not capitalized except at the beginning of a sentence or within a title. Proper nouns are always capitalized.

Look at the sentences The child used a camera and Daniel used a Nikon. The words child, camera, Daniel, and Nikon are nouns. Child and camera are common nouns that name a general, generic person and thing. Daniel and Nikon are proper nouns that name a specific person and thing. Notice that both Daniel and Nikon are capitalized.

Many proper nouns are made of more than one word. For example, the nouns mountain and mountains are common nouns. The nouns Pikes Peak and Rocky Mountains are proper nouns. Notice that both Pikes Peak and Rocky Mountains consist of two words.

Similarly, city is a common noun. New York City is a proper noun. New York City names a specific city. Notice that New York City consists of three words. All three words are capitalized.

So, what is the difference between common nouns and proper nouns?

A common noun names a general, generic person, place, thing, or idea. A proper noun names a specific person, place, thing, or idea. Now practice your knowledge of common and proper nouns by completing the exercises in Lesson 5 of A Form-Function English Grammar: Level 1, pages 20 through 23.

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