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Types of Nouns

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One of the most important types of words in English are nouns. Nouns are a part of speech that indicate people, things, objects, concepts, etc. There are seven types of nouns in English. Each type of noun can have important grammar rules when used. For example, one type of noun is the uncountable noun, mass noun or non-count noun. This type of noun is always used in the singular because it can not be counted. Here are the types of nouns in English with a short explanation and links to further resources to study each type of noun in more detail.

Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns are nouns that refer to concepts, ideas, emotions, etc. Abstract nouns are nouns that you can not touch, are not made of materials, but play an important role in life. Here is a list of some common abstract nouns:

success
depression
love
hate
anger
power
importance
tolerance
etc.

Example Sentences

Tom has had a lot of success this past year.
Many people prefer to let love inspire them rather than hate.
Jack has little tolerance for people who waste his time.
The desire for power has ruined many good people.

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns refer to groups of various types. Collective nouns are most commonly used with groups of animals. Collective nouns can be used in both the singular and plural, although collective nouns tend to be used in the singular. Here are some common collective nouns referring to groups of animals:

herd
litter
pack
swarm
hive
etc.

Example Sentences

The herd of cattle moved to a new field to graze.
Be careful! There's a hive of bees someone near here.

Collective nouns are also commonly used for names of institutions and groups within institutions such as academic, business and governmental organizations.

department
firm
party
staff
team
etc.

Example Sentences

Staff will meet at ten thirty tomorrow morning.
The sales department met its goals last quarter.

Common Nouns

Common nouns refer to categories of things in general, never to specific examples something that are named. In other words, when speaking about education in general someone might refer to 'university' in a general sense.

I think Tom should go to university to study science.

In this case, 'university' is a common noun. On the other hand, when 'university' is used as part of a name it becomes part of a proper noun (see below).

Meredith decided to go to the University of Oregon.

Note that common nouns that are used as the part of a name and become proper nouns are always capitalized. Here are some common nouns that are often used as common nouns and part of names.

university
college
school
institute
department
state
etc.

Example Sentences

There are a number of states which are in financial difficulty.
I think you need to go to college.

Concrete Nouns

Concrete nouns refer to things that you can touch, taste, feel, see, etc. There are actual things that we interact with on a daily basis. Concrete nouns can be both countable and uncountable. Here are some typical concrete nouns:

Countable Concrete Nouns

orange
desk
book
car
house
etc.

Uncountable Concrete Nouns

rice
water
pasta
whiskey
etc.

Example Sentences

There are three oranges on the table.
I need some water. I'm thirsty!
My friend has just bought a new car.
Can we have rice for dinner?

The opposite of concrete nouns are abstract nouns that do not refer to things we touch, but to things we think, ideas we have, and emotions we feel.

For more help on understanding countable and uncountable concrete nouns, here is an exhaustive guide to countable and uncountable nouns.

Countable / Count Nouns

Countable or count nouns are concrete nouns that can be used in both the singular and the plural form because they can be counted. Here are some examples of countable (count) nouns.

window
tree
computer
poster
etc.

Example Sentences

There are a few trees in my backyard.
She bought a new computer yesterday.

Countable nouns can take a definite or indefinite article depending on usage. For more information on the use of singular and plural, definite or indefinite articles refer to the guide to countable and uncountable nouns.

Pronouns

Pronouns refer to people or things. There are a number of pronoun forms depending on how the pronouns are used. Here are the subject pronouns:

I
you
he
she
it
we
you
they

Example Sentences

He lives in New York.
They like pizza.

For more detailed information on all forms of pronouns including subject, object, possessive and demonstrative pronouns, this guide to the different types of pronouns provides explanations of usage and examples.

Proper Nouns

Proper nouns are the names of people, things, institutions, nations, etc. Proper nouns are always capitalized. Here are some examples of common proper nouns:

Canada
University of California
Tom
Alice
etc.

Example Sentences

Tom lives in Kansas.
I'd love to visit Canada next year.

Uncountable Nouns / Mass Nouns / Non-Count Nouns

Uncountable nouns are also referred to as mass nouns or non-count nouns. Uncountable nouns can be both concrete and abstract nouns and are always used in the singular form because they can not be counted. Here are some common uncountable nouns:

rice
love
time
weather
furniture
etc.

Example Sentences

We're having lovely weather this week.
We need to get some new furniture for our home.

Uncountable nouns can generally do not take a definite or indefinite article depending on usage. For more information on the use of definite or indefinite articles refer to the guide to countable and uncountable nouns.

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