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A noun is a word used to name a person, animal, place, thing, or an abstract idea. Nouns are usually the first words which small children learn.[1] The bold words in the following sentence are all nouns:

"Jesus will return to set up His kingdom on Earth."

A proper noun is a name given to a person, place or company or title. "Jesus" is a proper noun, as is the Book of Genesis. Abraham is a proper noun as is the First United Methodist Church. In English, proper nouns are capitalized. A very clear example of proper nouns vs., common nouns is the word "god". God, the Christian Deity by name is a proper noun and is capped. "god" the concept of deity is not a proper noun. Consider this sentence: "The only true god is God".

Type of Noun Common (concrete) Common (abstract) Proper
Examples kingdom
Presbyterian Church of St. Andrew

In English, most capitalized words are also proper nouns or words derived from proper nouns (e.g., the proper noun "America," the adjective "American," and the verb "Americanize"). The most common exception is the word "I" which is a pronoun. That rule varies from language to language; for example, German capitalizes all nouns, while many writing systems have no concept of capitalization.

Most (but not all) languages express number in nouns, typically by adding a plural ending. In many languages like Russian, Hebrew, Greek and Latin nouns have different forms in different cases to show their relationships to other words in the sentence.


  1. The Writing Centre, University of Ottawa