Difference Between Common Nouns and Proper Nouns

Main Difference – Common Nouns vs. Proper Nouns

A noun is one of the most important parts of a sentence. Nouns identify people, animals, places, things or ideas. Every noun can be categorized further as common or proper nouns.  The main difference between a common noun and a proper noun is that proper nouns indicate a specific name for an individual, place or an organization while common nouns denote a class of objects rather than an individual name.

What is a Common Noun

Common nouns name people, things, places, or ideas that are specific. Common nouns are everywhere, and we see them everywhere even if we do not realize it. Look at the picture below and identify the common nouns you can observe.

Difference Between Common and Proper Nouns

The common nouns you can see in the picture are book, dog, girl, umbrella, grass, pen, mug, balloon, lamp, birds, letters, sun, table and drops of water.

Note that Sun can be used either as a common noun or a proper noun, depending on the context.

Always keep in mind that you must not start a common noun in capital unless it is at the beginning of the sentence.

What is a Proper Noun

Proper nouns are nouns that refer to specific people, places or things. Names of people, people, organizations, and objects fall into this category of proper nouns. Proper nouns always begin with a capital letter. Here are some examples of proper nouns:

Harry Potter, Volkswagen,  Justin Bieber, Rome, Heidi, Mr. Dias,  Australia, Walmart,  Levis

Remember that proper noun can have more than one word. Ex: The Library of Congress, Golden State Bridge, Norma Jeane Mortenson, Charlie Chaplin, etc.

What is the Difference Between Common Nouns and Proper Nouns

The table below will give you a clear idea of the difference between common nouns and proper nouns.

  Common Nouns

Proper Nouns

writer

Harper Lee, Jane Austen,

country

France, Japan, India

month

January, February, March

car

Audi, Peugeot, Volkswagen

Every proper noun has an equivalent common noun, but this does not mean that every common noun has a proper noun. For example, dust is a common noun, but there is only one kind of dust. This can be elaborated further through some more examples.

Example 1:

Proper Noun: Mary was reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Common Noun: That girl was reading a book.

Example 2:

Proper Noun: In Sri Lanka, capital punishment is not legal.

Common Noun: In the country that I live, capital punishment is not legal.

Example 3:

Proper Noun: Jean made Earl Grey.

Common Noun: My friend made my favourite tea.

The Difference that exists between Common nouns and Proper nouns can be summarized as follows.

Meaning:

Common Nouns: Common nouns indicate a class of a person, place or thing.

Proper Nouns: Proper nouns indicate a specific name of a person, place or things.

Capital letter:

Common Nouns: Common nouns only start with a capital letter if it is at the beginning of a sentence. 

Proper Nouns: Proper nouns always start with a capital letter.

Equivalence:

Common Nouns: Every common noun does not have a proper noun equivalent.

Proper Nouns: Every proper noun has an equivalent common noun. 

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