Proper Noun - Explore Definition, Rules, Usage and Examples

Nouns are of two main types: Proper nouns and Common nouns. While common nouns are generic in nature, proper nouns refer to naming words that are used to denote or classify a specific person, place or thing. See that you always use a capital letter to start a proper noun.

To learn more about proper nouns and their usage in sentences in detail, read through the following topics.

What is a Proper Noun?

A proper noun is a noun that is used to name a particular person, place, days, months, languages, nationalities, events of historical importance, significant eras and periods, and specific brands.

Definition of a Proper Noun

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines proper nouns as ‘a word that is the name of a person, a place, an institution, etc’. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a proper noun is ‘a word or group of words (such as “Noah Webster,” “Kentucky,” or “U.S. Congress”) that is the name of a particular person, place, or thing and that usually begins with a capital letter’. It is also called a ‘proper name’ as it is used to name particular people, places and things.

Examples of Proper Nouns

Some examples of proper nouns are:

Places: Costa Rica

Lakshadweep Islands

Nehru Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School

People: Ravi Shankar

Seetha Suresh

Dr. Padmanaban

Things: The Sun

The Solar System

The Earth

How to Differentiate Proper Nouns from Common Nouns?

You may be wondering about a way to differentiate between proper nouns and common nouns. It is quite simple and easy. The only thing that you have to keep in mind is that common nouns are very generic in nature and that there are multiple products of the same type. For example, a pen, a book, a bike, a key, etc. Whereas proper nouns refer to anything that you can find to be specific, and there is no way you could have another one of the same types. For example, there is only one William Shakespeare, only one Abraham Lincoln, only one New York, only one Chennai, etc.

Common Noun vs Proper Noun

Common Nouns Proper Nouns
  • Home
  • Planet
  • Door
  • Bear
  • State
  • Table
  • School
  • Curtain
  • The White House
  • The Jupiter
  • Queen Elizabeth
  • The Global Public School
  • Denmark
  • The Taj Hotel
  • The Sun
  • The India Gate

Capitalisation Rules for the Use of Proper Nouns in Sentences

When you are speaking, what matters is your tone of speech, your voice modulation, the pauses and the way you pronounce words. The rule of capitalisation for proper nouns matters only in written communication. Sometimes, people use capital letters just to emphasise on whatever they are talking about. The modern day messaging system has not made it any easier. There is this habit of capitalising the whole word or sentence and using too many exclamation marks or question marks to denote stress and importance when people, especially youngsters, send messages to each other.

For instance,

I want you to come home RIGHT NOW!!!

WHERE ARE YOU????

This kind of practice has affected the way people write, even for academic and professional purposes. There are some capitalisation rules that you should adhere to when writing for academic and professional purposes, especially. The following rules are important to improve the readability of your writing.

  • Capitalise directions such east, west, north and south only if it is being used as a part of the name of a place.

For example: The Western Ghat section is extremely serene.

You will find what you are looking for if you go north.

  • Capitalise relationships only if it is used as a name to specify that particular person.

For example: Did you know that Dad won the lottery?

Is your brother accompanying us for the trip?

  • Days and months should be capitalised always.

For example: Are you coming home on Wednesday?

Schools will reopen in the month of June for sure.

  • Seasons, on the other hand, need not be capitalised. Like relationships, seasons can be capitalised only when it is used as part of a proper name.

For example: I would love to visit Canada in the spring season.

‘The Autumn Leaf’ is a short collection of poems by different authors.

  • Professions and job titles follow the same rule. You can use capital letters to start a profession or job title only when it is used in the act of naming or addressing someone.

For example: Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated the Republic Day events by hoisting the flag.

I thank our principal, Mr. Santhosh Subramanian, for the continuous encouragement and support he has been giving us.

  • Nationalities and countries should always be capitalised as they are proper nouns and are always used to name a specific place, race or category of people.

For example: My brother will be going on a business trip to Singapore and Malaysia next

month.

The British ruled over India for almost two centuries.

  • You should always capitalise brand names as they refer to specific brands.

For example: He asked his mom to buy him Puma sneakers.

Did you see my sneakers? (common noun)

  • Languages should always be capitalised as they are proper nouns. There might be many dialects in a language, but the basic language remains the same. For instance, The English language has multiple dialects like British English, American English, Indian English, Canadian English, Australian English and so on.

For example: I know four languages: English, Hindi, Tamil and Malayalam.

Do they speak only Arabic in Dubai?

  • Events of historical importance, eras and periods are to be capitalised, but centuries are not to be capitalised.

For example: British India was also an age of development in the field of science and education.

The Great Indian Revolt of 1857 was the most successful and significant movement of the freedom struggle.

The Elizabethan Era was the greatest period for all types of art, music, architecture and literature.

Do you belong to the twentieth century?

Test Your Knowledge on Proper Nouns

Capitalise the proper nouns in the following sentences:

  1. Did you meet sanju yesterday?
  2. The manager took us all to kfc for lunch today.
  3. Have you read about the mughal empire?
  4. I wish I had a holiday on monday.
  5. Darshana picked up the regional language, kannada, sooner than we all thought she would.
  6. When did susan reach home last night?
  7. It is too sultry in the month of may.
  8. I told mom about your test results.
  9. I think the new girl is from south america.
  10. My dad bought me a gucci bag for my birthday.

Now, let us see if you got it all right.

  1. Did you meet Sanju yesterday?
  2. The manager took us all to KFC for lunch today.
  3. Have you read about the Mughal Empire?
  4. I wish I had a holiday on Monday.
  5. Darshana picked up the regional language, Kannada, sooner than we all thought she would.
  6. When did Susan reach home last night?
  7. It is too sultry in the month of May.
  8. I told Mom about your test results.
  9. I think the new girl is from South America.
  10. My dad bought me a Gucci bag for my birthday.

Frequently Asked Questions on Proper, Nouns

What is the definition of a proper noun?

The Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines proper nouns as ‘a word that is the name of a

person, a place, an institution, etc’. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a proper noun is ‘a word or group of words (such as “Noah Webster,” “Kentucky,” or “U.S. Congress”) that is the name of a particular person, place, or thing and that usually begins with a capital letter’. It is also called a ‘proper name’ as it is used to name particular people, places and things.

Give some examples of proper nouns.

Mr. Dean, Sarah, North America, Australia, New Orleans, World War I, September, Friday, Oppo, Samsung, Baduga, Dutch, Portuguese, Urdu, etc. are some examples of proper nouns.

Should we capitalise all nouns?

Not all nouns should be capitalised. Proper nouns like names of particular people, places, days, months, languages, nationalities, events of historical importance, significant eras and periods, and brand names are to be capitalised irrespective of where they are used in a sentence.

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