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Types of Nouns

A noun is a word that functions as the name of something. Nouns are the most common class of word in English.

Below we have a list of the different types of nouns in English with an explanation of what each one is and with examples of each type of noun.

Common Nouns

Common nouns are used to name a GENERAL type of person, place or thing.

Common nouns can be divided into smaller classes such as countable and uncountable nouns, concrete and abstract nouns and collective nouns.

Examples of common nouns: girl, city, animal, friend, house, food

Proper Nouns

Proper nouns are used to name a SPECIFIC person, place or thing. In English, proper nouns begin with a capital letter. Proper nouns do not normally have a determiner before them (e.g. the London, the Mary etc.) though there are some exceptions (e.g. Is she the Mary that we met at the conference?).

Examples of proper nouns: John, London, Pluto, Monday, France

Compound Nouns

Compound nouns are two or more words that create a noun. Compound nouns are sometimes one word (haircut), words joined by a hyphen (son-in-law) or as separate words (bus stop). The main stress is normally on the first part of the compound word (sunglasses, swimming pool)

Examples of compound nouns: toothbrush, rainfall, sailboat, mother-in-law, well-being, alarm clock, credit card

Countable Nouns

Countable nouns are nouns that CAN be counted. They have a singular and a plural form and can be used with a number. Sometimes countable nouns are called count nouns.

Examples of countable nouns: car, desk, cup, house, bike, eye, butterfly

See more information about Countable vs Uncountable Nouns.

Uncountable Nouns

Uncountable nouns are nouns that CANNOT be counted. These are sometimes called Mass Nouns. Uncountable nouns often refer to:

  • substances: paper, wood, plastic
  • liquids: milk, oil , juice
  • gases: air, oxygen
  • abstract ideas: happiness, time, information

Examples of uncountable nouns: water, coffee, cheese, sand, furniture, skin, wool, gold, fur

See more information about Countable vs Uncountable Nouns.

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns are words that refer to a set or group of people, animals or things.

Examples of collective nouns: staff, team, crew, herd, flock, bunch

See our list of Collective Nouns

Concrete Nouns

Concrete nouns are nouns which refer to people and things that exist physically and that at least one of the senses can detect (can be seen, felt, heard, smelled/smelt, or tasted).

Examples of concrete nouns: dog, tree, apple, moon, coin, sock, ball, water

Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns are nouns that have no physical existence and are not concrete. They refer to ideas, emotions or concepts so you CANNOT see, touch, hear, smell or taste something that is an abstract noun. Many abstract nouns are uncountable.

Examples of abstract nouns: love, time, happiness, bravery, creativity, justice, freedom, speed


A gerund, sometimes called a verbal noun, is a noun formed from a verb. Since all gerunds end in -ing, they are sometimes confused as being a verb (present participle).

Example: Running is good for you.
Here running looks like a verb because of its -ing ending but it is a noun (gerund) because we are talking about the concept of running, we are talking about a thing.

Examples of gerunds: reading, writing, dancing, thinking, flying

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