Classifications of Types
Proper nouns are nouns that refer to specific entities.
Writers of English capitalize proper nouns like Nadia, Steve,
Harvard, or White House to show their distinction from common
Common nouns refer to general, unspecific categories
of entities. Whereas Nebraska is a proper noun because it
signifies a specific state, the word state itself is a common
noun because it can refer to any of the 50 states in the
United States. Harvard refers to a particular institution
of higher learning, while the common noun university can
refer to any such institution.
To linguists, these count nouns can occur in both
single and plural forms, can be modified by numerals, and
can co-occur with quantificational determiners like many,
most, more, several, etc. For example, the noun bike is
countable noun. Consider the following sentence:
There is a bike in that garage.
In this example, the word bike is singular as it refers
to one bike that is presently residing in a particular garage.
However, bike can also occur in the plural form.
There are six broken bikes in that garage.
In this example, the noun bikes refers to more than one
bike as it is being modified by the numeral six. In addition,
countable nouns can co-occur with quantificational determiners.
In that garage, several bikes are broken.
This sentence is grammatical, as the noun bike can take
the modification of the quantificational determiner several.
Uncountable Nouns or Mass Nouns
Conversely, some nouns are not countable and are called
uncountable nouns or mass nouns. For example, the word clutter
is a mass noun.
That garage is full of clutter.
This sentence makes grammatical sense. However, the following
example does not.
That garage is full of clutters.
Mass nouns can not take plural forms, and
therefore a sentence containing the word clutters is ungrammatical.
Substances, liquids, and powders are entities that are often
signified by mass nouns such as wood, sand, water, and flour.
Other examples would be milk, air, furniture, freedom, rice,
In general, collective nouns are nouns
that refer to a group of something in a specific manner.
Often, collective nouns are used to refer to groups of animals.
Consider the following sentences.
Look at the gaggle of geese.
There used to be herds of wild buffalo on the prairie.
A bevy of swans is swimming in the pond.
A colony of ants live in the anthill.
In the above examples, gaggle, herds, bevy, and colony are
Concrete nouns are nouns that can be touched, smelled,
seen, felt, or tasted. Steak, table, dog, Maria, salt, and
wool are all examples of concrete nouns.
Can I pet your dog?
Please pass the salt.
Your sweater is made of fine wool.
Concrete nouns can be perceived by at least one of our senses.
More ethereal, theoretical concepts use abstract nouns to
refer to them. Concepts like freedom, love, power, and redemption
are all examples of abstract nouns.
They hate us for our freedom.
All you need is love.
We must fight the power.
In these sentences, the abstract nouns refer to concepts,
ideas, philosophies, and other entities that cannot be concretely
Personal pronouns are types of nouns that take
the place of nouns when referring to people, places or things.
The personal pronouns in English are I, you, he, she, it,
Amy works at a flower shop.
She works at a flower shop.
The Greeks invented democracy.
They invented democracy.
These pronouns take on other forms depending on what type
of function they are performing in a sentence. For example,
when used to signify possession of another noun, pronouns
take on their possessive form such as mine, ours, hers,
That pizza belongs to Marley.
That pizza is hers.
When used as the object of a preposition, pronouns take
on their objective case. Examples include him, her, me,
us, and them.
Hand the money over to Jennifer.
Hand the money over to her.
The police are on to John and Ray.
The police are on to them.