Grammar Rules

Proper Nouns

What is a Proper Noun?

Proper nouns have two distinct features: They name specific one-of-a-kind items, and they begin with capital letters, no matter where they occur within a sentence. Here, we’ll take a closer look at proper nouns, provide proper noun examples, and help you learn how to use a proper noun the right way.

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Remember that all nouns are words naming people, animals, places, things, and ideas. Every noun can be further classified as either common or proper. The distinction is very easy to make once you see some examples and come up with a few of your own.

Proper Noun Examples

In the following sentences, proper noun examples are compared with common nouns. Notice that the proper nouns are specific and unique, while the common nouns are much more general in nature.
  1. Common noun: I want to be a writer. Proper noun: Agatha Christie wrote many books.
  2. Common noun: I’d like to adopt a cat. Proper noun: Cleopatra is the cutest kitten ever.
  3. Common noun: Would you like a cookie? Proper noun: I’m craving Oreos.
  4. Common noun: Let’s go to the city. Proper noun: Let’s go to San Francisco.
  5. Common noun: My teacher starts work before sunup. Proper noun: Mr. Bell seems to understand what students need.
  6. Common noun: I think that’s a planet, not a star. Proper noun: I can see Jupiter tonight.
  7. Common noun: He’s always hanging out with his girlfriend. Proper noun: He never goes anywhere without Sarah.
  8. Common noun: There are a lot of important documents in the archives. Proper noun: There are many important documents at The Library of Congress.

How to Use Proper Nouns

It’s easy to use proper nouns, once you know what they are. Simply place them in your sentences as you would common nouns, ensuring that you capitalize them. Here are some examples to help you get started.
  • Brett had hoped for an easy teacher for his algebra class, but he got Ms. Boggs, whose unreasonable demands and short temper made the semester unbearable. → Teacher is a common noun. Ms. Boggs is a proper noun.
  • Gloria had a craving, and not just any cookie would do. She went to the store and bought a box of Oreos. → Cookie is a common noun. Oreos is a proper noun.
  • We wanted to try a new restaurant, so we went to Taste of Thai. → Restaurant is a common noun. Taste of Thai is a proper noun.

Proper Noun Examples

Identify the proper noun in each sentence:

  1. The boy threw the ball to his dog, Wilson.
  2. I’d like you to meet my friend Jeremy.
  3. We’ll be vacationing in Aspen this year.
  4. My second grade teacher was Mrs. Gilbert, an old battle-axe.
  5. We went to Smith’s Furniture and bought a new couch to replace our old one.
  6. Do you think the Dolphins will win the game?
  7. I’m flying first-class on Emirate Airlines.
  8. Thomas Jefferson was a president and philosopher.
  9. My best friend moved to Israel to study.
  10. When the Titanic sank, the captain went down with the ship.
Answers: 1 – Wilson, 2 – Jeremy, 3 – Aspen, 4 – Mrs. Gilbert, 5 – Smith’s Furniture, 6 – Dolphins, 7 – Emirate Airlines, 8 – Thomas Jefferson, 9 – Israel, 10 - Titanic