In this arcticle we will learn about the different kinds of nouns with examples and we will also look at some rules to keep in mind when using them. We will first talk about concrete and abstract nouns, then we’ll look at common and proper nouns. Then we’ll discuss the very interesting collective nouns and finally, we’ll turn to the most important topic relating to nouns, and that is countable and uncountable nouns.
what is a noun?
A noun is just the name of a person, place, animal, thing, feeling or idea. For example, in this sentence “Graham likes to go to the zoo and see the animals.” Here there are three nouns – can you identify all of them? The nouns are Graham – a person, zoo – a place and animals.
Concrete and Abstract Nouns with examples
What is Concrete Noun?
Nouns can also be things like watch, T-shirt etc. And all of these people, places, animals and things are physical – that means we can see them and we can touch them. So they are called concrete nouns that means they have a real physical existence.
What are Abstract Nouns?
Abstract nouns are nouns that don’t have a physical existence. That means we cannot touch them or see them, and these are ideas and feelings. Now in this sentence “Honesty is the best policy.” In that sentence, honesty and policy are both nouns but they are abstract nouns. And this next example “Love is a powerful emotion.” Love is the name of a feeling like anger, happiness or sorrow. And love is a noun. Emotion is also a noun.
Common and Proper Nouns with example.
what common and proper nouns are?
A common noun is a general noun and a proper noun is the name given to a specific individual. For example in this chart all the nouns on the left are common nouns and all the nouns on the right are proper nouns.
For example man is a common noun because it can mean any man but Edwin is the name of one man. So Edwin is a proper noun. Woman, in the same way, is a common noun – it could be any woman but Allison is the name of an individual, so a proper noun. In the next two, city and country are common nouns but Mumbai and India are the names of one city and one country, so proper nouns.
|Common Nouns||Proper Nouns|
|university||University of Delhi|
Now, do you notice something about the proper nouns? You should be noticing that they’re all written with a capital first letter. And that is actually a rule in English – proper nouns are always written with a capital first letter. With university, for example, when we talk about universities in general we use it as a common noun so the whole word is written in lower case – that means in small letters. But when we’re talking about a specific university like the University of Delhi, notice that both the ‘U’ in University and the ‘D’ in Delhi are capitals. That’s because it’s a proper noun that refers to one specific university.
Let’s focus on the last two – day and month. With the days of the week – Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, we always write them with the first letter capitalized because they are proper nouns. And it’s the same thing for months as well. From January to December all months are written with a capital first letter.
Collective Nouns with examples
Collective means something like collection and a collective noun is the name given to a group of people – animals, places or things.
Let’s look at some common examples – a group of players is called a team. Team is a collective noun and it means a group of players, or it could even mean a group of workers in a company. Actually there’s another word for a group of workers or employees that word is staff.
|A group of…||Collective Noun|
What do we call a group of students? A group of students is a class, A group of criminals? A gang, A group of soldiers is an army, A group of onlookers? We call them a crowd. There are also collective nouns for animals. For example a group of wolves is called a pack. A group of bees is called a swarm Alright there are also collective nouns for things – like if I have five or six keys in my hand we call it a bunch of keys. What about two shoes? A pair.
Countable and Uncountable Nouns with examples
What are countable nouns?
A countable noun is a noun that can be counted. Some common countable nouns are are book, pen, man, spoon, building, elephant etc. With all of these we can use numbers or plurals to talk about them. We can say two books, five pens, three buildings etc. If there’s only one, we can use a or an – I have a book, there’s an elephant standing over there etc.
Uncountable Nouns with examples
An uncountable noun cannot be counted. Uncountable nouns are nouns like water, coffee, air, salt, sugar, love, advice and so on. And just by seeing them you should be able to say there’s no way to count them because water and coffee are liquids. Air is a gas. Salt and sugar are so small that if you try to count the individual particles that would be an extremely difficult task. And love and advice are abstract nouns because they’re feelings and ideas. Most abstract nouns are uncountable. So with uncountable nouns we cannot use plurals and we cannot use a and an.
|Countable Nouns||Uncountable Nouns|
|book, pen, man, spoon, building, elephant||water, coffee, air, salt, sugar, love, advice|
|a/an, plurals||No: a/an, plurals|
measures: glass, tbsp, cup, pounds, kilograms, litres.
|How many…?||How much…?|
|a few||a little|
|many, a lot of||much, a lot of|
Countable and Uncountable Nouns examples
For example, we can say a glass of water or two glasses of water, six tablespoons of sugar or a cup of coffee, 5 cups of coffee and so on. Or we can use units of volume or weight like pounds, kilograms, ounces and liters. This is how we talk about the quantity of uncountable nouns.
To ask questions we use the expression “How many…?” with countable nouns like “How many computers do you have in your office?” And with uncountable nouns we use “How much…?” “How much water is there in the bottle?” or “How much sugar is there in the jar?” Now with any of these questions if you know the exact answer you can give it – you can say “There are 20 computers in my office.” “There’s half a liter of water.” “There’s four pounds of sugar in the jar.”
What about if you don’t know the exact number or quantity? In that case you can use quantity expressions with countable nouns – we use a ‘few’ to mean a small number. I can say “Oh there are only a few computers in my office.” I don’t know the exact number but it’s a small number. Or I can say “There’s only a little water in the jar.” So with uncountable nouns we use ‘a little’ – this is very important.
And what about to talk about a big number or a big quantity? We use ‘many’ or ‘a lot of’. “There are many computers in my office.” Or “There are a lot of computers in my office.” With uncountable nouns, we can use ‘much’ but that’s less common. It’s more common once again to use ‘a lot of’ like “There is a lot of coffee in the cup.” So notice that ‘a lot’ can be used both with countable and uncountable nouns.
In the same way, the word ‘some’ can also be used with both types. For example “Some computers in my office don’t work.” That’s some number but I don’t want to say the number or I don’t know the number. In the same way, we can say “There’s some tea left in the glass” – some tea is some quantity but I don’t know the quantity. So with both countable and uncountable nouns, we can use ‘a lot of’ and ‘some.’