Types of Nouns

Look around you. What do you see? You see persons, places, animals, birds, fishes, things, etc. Everything you see has a name. In grammar, this name is called nouns. 

Table of Contents


Definition of Nouns

A noun is the name of a person, place, animal, or thing.

Ricky and his dog are playing football in the garden


Nouns Job:

Position of Nouns

We use nouns in different places of a sentence. The following 8 use of nouns are MUST-KNOW for every learner: 

1. Subject

Nouns as subjects mainly come before the verb, often at the beginning of the sentence. Subject of an active verb does the action. Remember that subject controls the verbs number and person. 

  • Ricky kicks football to Micky.
  • Ricky and Micky kick football.

2. Direct Object

Nouns as direct objects appear just after the transitive verbs. Direct objects receive the action of the verb.

  • Ricky kicks football to Micky.
  • I read a book.

3. Indirect Object 

Some verbs have two objects. The first object is a person and it is called Indirect Object. The second object is Direct Object. Indirect Object receives the Direct Object.  

  • Ricky gives Micky a bat.
  • Grandma told Jesica a story.  

4. Object of Prepositions

Like the transitive verbs, prepositions always follow objects. So, nouns after prepositions are called their object.

  • Ricky kicks football to Micky
  • We live in America.

5. Subject Complement

Nouns after linking verbs like 'Be' and 'Become' are called Subject Complement or Predicate Nominative.  

  • Ricky is a footballer.
  • Owls are nocturnal birds.

6. Object Complement

If a verb like 'elect’, ‘select’, ‘nominate’, ‘appoint’, ‘name’, ‘call’ and ‘make’ has two nouns after it and both the nouns denote the same person, the second noun is called object complement. The first one is direct object.

  • We made Ricky our captain.
  • Father named him Michale.

7. Appositive

Sometimes we use two nouns side by side where both the nouns denote same person or thing. The second noun is called Appositive. 

  • Ricky, our captain, is a smart boy. 
  • Our captain, Ricky, is a smart boy. 

 8. Vocative

We often address someone directly in our speech. This noun of direct addressed is called Vocative or noun of direct address. 

  • Ratan, have you learnt your lesson today?
  • Bob, lesten to me. 

Vocative vs Object:

We use a comma (,) before a vocative or nominative of direct address. This is very important. Otherwise, the meaning of the sentence may be changed. For example, compare the following: 

  • I don’t know, Ricky. (Vocative) 
  • I don’t know Ricky. (Direct Object) 

The first sentence means that the speaker is telling Ricky that he/ she does not know something. The second sentence means that the speaker does not know Ricky. 

Noun Types:

Types of Nouns

Nouns are primarily divided into two types: proper nouns and common nouns. Common nouns are further divided into many types. They are discussed below. 

Proper Nouns:

What is a proper noun? 

A proper noun is the special name given to persons, places, pet animals, institutions, brands, and things. 

A person or a place can have two types of names: special name and general name. Special names are called proper nouns. Look at the two names in following sentence: 

  • Mike is a doctor. 

Here, 'Mike' and 'doctor' refor to same person. 'Mike' is his special name. So, 'Mike' is a proper noun. On the other hand, 'doctor' is a general name which does not refer to any specific person. So, 'doctor' is a common noun. Here are some more examples of proper nouns. 

1. Special names of people are proper nouns:

  • Shakespeare was a great poet. 
  • My name is Donald

2. Special names of places are proper nouns:

  • London is an old city. 
  • She lives in Canada.

3. Special names of pet animals are proper nouns:

  • Tom is my pet cat. 
  • Your horse is Caeser?

4. Special names of things like buildings, institutions, company, brands, etc. are proper nouns: 

  • She works for the Sony.
  • My favourite brand is Apple?


A proper noun always begins with a capital letter even if it is in the middle of the sentence. 

  • Wrong: 'Man and Superman' was written by george bernerd shaw
  • Right: 'Man and Superman' was written by George Bernerd Shaw

Common Nouns:

What is a common noun? 

A common noun is a generic name or general name of a person, place, animal, thing or idea. 

You have seen that names are either general or special. In grammar, general names are called common nouns.

  • Shelly was a rebel poet.

In the above sentence, 'Shelly' and 'poet' refer to the same person. Here 'poet' is a general name. That is, the name 'poet' is shared by many other person. Such names, which are shared by many are called common nouns. Notice that common nouns do not refer to any particular person, place, or thing. Here are some more examples:

1. The general names of people are common nouns.

  • I am a astudent
  • You are a teacher.

2. The general names of places are common nouns.

  • Japan is a rich country.
  • I live in a village.

3. The general names of animals are common nouns. 

  • The cow is a domestic animal.
  • Cats sleep.

4. The general names of things are common nouns. 

  • Give me a pen.
  • Open the door.


A common noun begins with a small letter unless it is at the beginning of a sentence.

  • Wrong: Bob is a Teacher.
  • Right: Bob is a teacher

Collective Nouns:

What is a collective noun? 

A common noun that indicates a class of persons, places, animal, or things is a collective noun. 

The bold words in the following sentences are collective nouns.

Our team has won the interschool football tournament. (team= a group of eleven players)

  • The committee will arrange a meeting soon. 
  • Our school library has one thousand books. 
  • The class is doing well. 

More examples of collective nouns.

People: party, gentry, peasantry, army, team, class, elite, assembly, board, gang, audience, infantry, cavalry, mass, crowd, orchestra

Animals: herd, flock,  swarm 

Place: union, federation

Things: bunch, pile, library, bundle, grove, cluster, stack, fleet

Collective Nouns: Singular or Plural?

A collective noun can be singular or plural. 

If the members of a collective noun act unitedly, we use singular verbs after the collective noun.

  • The jury has given same opinion. [jury = singular; has = a singular verb]
  • The jury have given different opinions. [jury = plural; have = a plural verb] 

Noun of Multitude:

What is a noun of multitude?

Collective nouns take plural verbs when the members of the group are divided in their opinion. This type of collective nouns is called noun of multitude. 

Material Nouns:

What is a material noun? 

Material nouns are names of things that are uncountable.

Read the following sentences carefully.

  • The woman has a bag in her hand. The bag is made of cloth

Question: What material is used the make the bag?

Answer: cloth

Here cloth is a Material noun. 

More Examples of Material Nouns: Material nouns are names of things we cannot count. It is measured by weight only. Here are some Material Nouns for your understanding: —

(1) The metals: iron, gold, platinum, etc.

(2) Products spoken of in bulk: tea, sugar, rice, wheat, etc.

(3) Geological bodies: mud, sand, granite, rock, stone, etc.

(4) Natural phenomena: rain, dew, cloud, frost, mist, etc.

(5) Various manufactures: cloth, potash, soap, rubber, paint, celluloid, etc. 

Abstract Nouns:

What is an abstract noun?  

Abstract Nouns are names of things that have no physical existence. 

Abstract Nouns

We have five sense organs: eye, ear, nose, tongue, and skin. There are things our five sense organs cannot detect. They are called abstract nouns.

For example, love is a noun. It has no physical existence. We cannot see, hear, smell, taste, or touch love. So, love is an abstract noun.

More Examples of Abstract Nouns

  • Honesty is the best policy.
  • One should do one’s duty.
  • Poverty is a curse. 

Concrete Nouns:

What is a concrete noun? 

The opposite of abstract noun is concrete noun. 

Concrete Nouns are the names of things which have physical existence and which we can detect by our five sense organs. Concrete nouns are Proper Nouns, Common Nouns, Collective Nouns, and Material Nouns. 

Compound Nouns:

What is a compound noun? 

A compound noun is a naming word which is made up of two or more nouns.

Examples of Compound Nouns

  • running shoe
  • swimming pool
  • football
  • table tennis

Types of Compound Nouns

There are three types of compound nouns based on how they are formed.

(i) Open or spaced compound nouns:

(ii) Clozed or solid compound nouns

(iii) Hyphenated compound nouns 

Possessive Nouns:

What is a possessive noun?

A possessive noun is a noun that ends with an apostrophe s ('s) or just an apostrophe ('). 

What are possessive nouns?

Nouns which indicate possession are possessive nouns. 

  • lion's mane
  • horse's nest
  • Bob's home

Rules of Using Apostrophe S ('s)

1. We add 's to a singular noun.

  • For God's sake hold your tongue.
  • Put your tooth in a rat's hole.

2. If a plural noun ends with s, we add only apostrophe (') to form a possessive noun.

  • He reads in a boys' school.
  • We must ensure girls' education.

3. After irregular plurals, we add apostrophe s ('s).

  • The People's Republic of China
  • Children's education

Possessive nouns with inanimate objects

We often see the possessive forms of nouns indicating lifeless objects. But many people prefer not to use apostrophe s ('s) or apostrophe (') with nouns indicating inanimate objects. Rather, they prefer using the preposition 'of'. 

  • The table's legs are broken.
  • = The legs of the table are broken. 

Occupation Nouns:

What is an occupation noun?

A noun which indicates the occupation related to a verb is an occupation noun. 

Sometimes we add -er or -or to a verb to form a noun. This types of nouns are called occupation nouns because they indicate the occupations related to the verbs.

Examples of occupation nouns:

  • Britney is a singer. She sings pop songs.
  • John is a baker. He bakes cakes.
  • A bus driver drives bus. 
  • A film actor acts in the film.
  • A dressmaker makes dress. 

  • Countable Nouns:

    What is a countable noun?

    Nouns are either countable or uncountable.

    A countable noun is the names of things we can count. Most nouns in English are countable. Countable nouns are either Singular or Plural.

    (i) Singular Countable nouns: boy, woman, egg, etc.

    (ii) Plural Countable Nouns: boys, women, eggs, etc.

    Subject-Verb Agreement

    Singular nouns follow singular verbs, where as plural nouns follow plural verbs.

    • Singular: A dog is barking.
    • Plural: Dogs are barking. 

    Uncountable Nouns:

    What is an uncountable noun?

    An  uncountable noun is the names of things we cannot count. An uncountable noun does not have any plural form because we cannot count the things that indicate an uncountable noun. All uncountable nouns are singular and they always follow singular verb. Uncountable nouns are either material noun or abstract noun. 

    Examples of uncountable nouns:

    (1) The metals: iron, gold, platinum, etc.

    (2) Products spoken of in bulk: tea, sugar, rice, wheat, etc.

    (3) Geological bodies: mud, sand, granite, rock, stone, etc.

    (4) Natural phenomena: rain, dew, cloud, frost, mist, etc.

    (5) Various manufactures: cloth, potash, soap, rubber, paint, celluloid, etc. 

    Test Your Learning:

    Online Quiz on Nouns

    Login to take the online test. 

    Select the correct answer

    Q1. A noun is a-----word.
    Q2. A synonym of noun is-----.
    Q3. Proper nouns are-----.
    private names
    special names
    any names
    general names
    Q4. Common nouns are-----.
    special names
    private names
    general names
    nick names
    Q5. Which sentence has a Noun of Multitude?
    The jury were divided in their opinions.
    The jury was pleased with the verdict.
    The jury consists of five members.
    The ring is made of gold.
    Q6. ‘You have no right to do it.’ The word ‘right’ is a/an-----.
    Q7. The police dispersed the crowd. Here the word ‘crowd’ is a/an-----.
    proper noun
    common noun
    collective noun
    abstract noun
    Q8. Which does not have any physical existence?
    Profession Nouns
    Proper Nouns
    Abstract Nouns
    Concrete Nouns
    Q9. The names of things that have physical existence are called-----.
    Concrete Nouns
    Abstract Nouns
    Proper Nouns
    Profession Nouns
    Q10. I am in the process of collecting material for my story. The word ‘material’ is a/an-----.
    Q11. Shakespeare is a great 'dramatist'. The word ‘dramatist’ is-----.
    Proper noun
    Abstract noun
    Collective noun
    Common noun
    Q12. 'Swimming is a good exercise'. Here 'swimming' is a/an----.
    Q13. The word 'wisdom' is a-----.
    Q14. Which of the following is not an abstract noun?
    Q15. What kind of noun is 'committee'?