Common and Proper Nouns

Common Noun Practice

Common nouns are nouns that name a general person, place, or thing. See the following examples to see the difference of a common noun vs. a proper noun:

  • I like the painting vs. I like the Van Gough
  • She owns a car vs. she owns a Toyota

A common noun must fall into one or more of these categories:

  • Abstract nouns: Things you can’t see or touch (e.g., sadness, hope, justice).
  • Collective nouns: Describe groups (e.g., class, jury, team).
  • Compound nouns: Nouns made up of more than one word (e.g., bus stop, haircut, sunrise, sister-in-law).
  • Concrete nouns: Things you can see or touch (e.g., door, table, dish).
  • Non-countable nouns: Objects or ideas you can’t count, that lack a plural form (e.g., music, oxygen).
  • Gender-specific nouns: Things which are male or female (e.g., mother, father, waitress).
  • Verbal nouns, also called gerunds: Describe actions and always end in -ing (e.g., reading helps you learn English).

Studying common noun lists can help students differentiate between the two very quickly. See below for examples of a list of common nouns to study with your students!

Proper Noun Practice

Proper nouns name a specific person, place, or thing and are almost always capitalized. People’s names are proper nouns, as are the names of states, streets, rivers, oceans, countries, companies, institutions, churches, etc. (e.g., I want to live in Chicago vs. I want to live in the city). Creating a proper nouns list for you students, keeping grade level in mind, is a great way to help them retain the concepts of these words!

To help students understand the difference between common and proper nouns, give them 10 statements that include a wide variety of proper nouns. Some of the proper nouns should be properly capitalized and others should be erroneously uncapitalized; also, some common nouns might be erroneously capitalized. Have students edit the statements so all proper nouns are capitalized and all common nouns are lowercase.

Common and Proper NounsView the Common Core State Standards Related to Common and Proper NounsClose

Common Core State Standards Related to Common and Proper Nouns

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.1.1.b
Use common, proper, and possessive nouns.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.2.2
Demonstrate command of the conventions of Standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.2.2a
Capitalize holidays, product names, and geographic names.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.2.5a
Identify real-life connections between words and their use.

View Words at a GlanceClose

Common Nouns – People: athlete, magician, teacher, friend, neighbor, doctor, principal, architect, passenger, scientist

Common Nouns – Places: park, office, museum, mountain, school, stadium, country, restaurant, continent, airport

Common Nouns – Objects/Things: needle, vacuum, table, suitcase, ointment, creature, crayon, parcel, gargoyle, computer

Proper Nouns – People: Helen Keller, Paul Bunyan, Frankenstein, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Zeus

Proper Nouns – Places: Florida, Australia, Wednesday, February, Paris, Saturn, Indian Ocean, Europe, Amazon River, Grand Canyon

VocabularySpellingCity.com provides word lists, printables, and interactive games and activities that give students the opportunity to use common and proper nouns.

Try Paragraph Writing Practice with the Common Nouns – Places list.

Common vs Proper Nouns

Use VocabularySpellingCity’s word lists and games to help students learn the differences of common nouns vs. proper nouns!