At some point, everyone has the same question: What is a common noun? Here, we’ll take a look at common nouns and provide some common noun examples so you can easily recognize common nouns when you see them. Don’t worry, this will be painless.
Defining the Common Noun
A noun is a word that names a person, animal, place, thing, or idea. All nouns can be further classified as proper or common. Common nouns are words used to name general items rather than specific ones. Go into your living room. What do you see? Lamp, chair, couch, TV, window, painting, pillow, candle – all of these items are named using common nouns.
Common nouns are everywhere, and you use them all the time, even if you don’t realize it. Wherever you go, you’ll find at least one common noun. Street, closet, bathroom, school, mall, gas station; all of these places are named using common nouns.
People in general are named using common nouns, though their official titles or given names are proper nouns. When we refer to people using common nouns, we use words like teacher, clerk, police officer, preacher, delivery driver, boyfriend, girlfriend, grandma, cousin, and barista.
The takeaway is this: common nouns are general names and unless they are part of a title like Postmaster General or begin a sentence, they’re not usually capitalized.
Common Noun Examples
The following common noun examples will help you to recognize common nouns. In the sentences that follow, common noun examples are italicized. Notice that the examples providing proper nouns name specific versions of the same type of person, animal, place, thing, or idea.
Common Noun: You broke my favorite mug.
Proper Noun: I can’t believe you broke my Snoopy mug.
Common Noun: I really want a new pair of jeans.
Proper Noun: I really want to buy a new pair of Levis.
Common Noun: I wish I could remember the name of that painter.
Proper Noun: I really love art by Van Gogh.
Common Noun: They’re all waiting for us at the restaurant.
Proper Noun: Everyone else is at Bill’s Burgers.
Common Noun: I really want to live in a big city someday.
Proper Noun: Of all the places I’ve lived, Denver was best.
Common Noun: Let’s go to watch a live game at the stadium.
Proper Noun: Let’s try to get good seats at Wrigley Field.