Common Noun

Common nouns are general names given to every noun (person, place, and thing) of a given class or kind. Unlike proper nouns, common nouns put someone or something in a group.

When based on some characteristics or properties we derive a general or common name, we get common nouns. Like, a thing which has a wooden base and leaves on top is called Tree. Similarly, an object with a closed metal body and four wheels is called a Car. Likewise, when you hear words like Boy, Biscuit, School, Soldier, or Pencil a certain kind of image with specific characteristics and features come in your head. But this image gives no definite information and does not point to a unique object. It can be any Tree, Car, Boy, or Pencil.

Examples:

  • Sam Jordan is a doctor. (here doctor refers to a person who in general treats people.)
  • Their native village is on the bank of a river (here river is a natural watercourse body. All similar structures carrying water are called as ‘river’.)
  • We need twenty-five new chairs for our office. (here chairs is the name given to a structure used for sitting. No specific name is given to identify which particular chair.)
  • She wants a cat as a pet. (here cat is the name of an animal with certain characteristics in general.)

From all the above examples we understand that these words do not provide any specific information. Though they create a general image of the talked about nouns.

Some more Examples of Common Nouns:

  • Person: Lawyer, Doctor, Teacher, Jeweler, Baby, Uncle
  • Place: City, Mountain, Lake, Ocean, Planet, Hospital, Post office,
  • Animal: Elephant, Cat, Monkey, Snake, Tiger
  • Thing: Bulb, Book, Curtain, Chocolate, Flower

Ø How Common Nouns are different from Proper Nouns

Let us take and examples of a class. Sometimes the teacher wants to give information to each student, then the teacher refers to each of them as:

Students pay attention! Tomorrow you all must bring your drawing books.”

(Here Students is a common noun. It is a general term used for people in a class. But here no particular person is referred.)

Similarly, sometimes the teacher wants to give information to a particular student, then the teacher refers to that student as:

Christopher pay attention! Tomorrow you must call your parents.”

(Here Christopher is a proper noun. This is a specific name referring to a particular person.)

So common nouns point towards a general person, place or thing. And to make them unique we use a proper name and it becomes a proper noun. Let us see some examples below.

Ø Proper Noun acting as Common Noun

Sometimes a proper noun is used as a common noun. This happens when a proper noun is considered as a reference or is treated as an ideal example of some attribute.

Examples:

  • Rohan is considered the Sachin Tendulkar of our team. (here Rohan is a proper noun. And Sachin Tendulkar is a reference common noun with whom the characteristics of Rohan are compared.)
  • Today it feels like Sunday. (here characteristics of the present day are compared to Sunday. Thus, Sunday is common noun here.)
  • Despite being old, this car is as good as a Mercedes. (here an old car is said to have characteristics like a Mercedes.)

Ø Confusing Common Nouns

Certain words can either be a common noun or can be a proper noun. Now why it is important to identify whether it is a common noun or proper noun? It is important because we need to implement correct capitalization.

  1. Designations:

When designations like President, Manager, Assistant, Prince, King, Queen, Commander, Chief are used as titles or in place of names they act as proper nouns. In this case they denote a unique person.

But except this, sometimes these words are used in a general sense. And they do not point to a particular person. In this case, they act like common nouns.

Examples:

  • Most managers are hardworking, only a few are not doing well. (In this sentence we cannot identify any specific person to whom the word managers Thus, it is a common noun.)
  • She has given her resignation to the Manager. (here no specific name is taken but, the word Manager is used in place of a specific name and point toward and individual. Thus, it is a proper noun.)
  • She has given her resignation to Manager Mathur. (here the word Manager is used as a title before a name. Thus, it is a proper noun.)
  1. Professions and Relations:

Nouns denoting profession and relation such as teacher, doctor, lawyer, swimmer, politician, driver, painter, mother, father, aunt, uncle, brother, etc. are common nouns.

But when these are used as titles or when they are directly talked to or called out, they are considered proper nouns. This is because now they refer to a unique person.

Examples:

  • They are planning to live with their aunt.
  • They are planning to live with Aunt July this weekend.
  • Aunt, can you live with us this weekend?”
  • My daughter wants to become a doctor when she grows up.
  • Her treatment is going on with Doctor Gupta.
  • Doctor, please suggest me a diet to lose weight.”
  1. SEASONS are Common Nouns:

Seasons are common nouns, unlike Days and Months which are proper nouns. Thus, seasons are never capitalized in a sentence unless they appear at the beginning of a sentence.

Examples:

  • Homeless people suffer a lot during Winters. (INCORRECT)
  • Homeless people suffer a lot in winters. (CORRECT)

  • It was an Autumn night with dark purple and blue clouds, but no rain. (INCORRECT)
  • It was an autumn night with dark purple and blue clouds, but no rain. (CORRECT)
#KEY-NOTES:

  • Common Nouns are GENERAL names.
  • They give a generic name to nouns with certain common characteristics.
  • They do not point at a specific or unique thing.
  • They are capitalized only when they appear at the beginning of a sentence.
  • Sometimes Proper Nouns can act as Common nouns.
  • Sometimes Common Nouns (designations, professions, and relations) refer to specific people and are capitalized.
#SUMMARY:
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