Caleb S.
Caleb S.

What's a Noun? Definition, Examples, and Types

16 min read

Published on: Jun 1, 2024

Last updated on: Jun 19, 2024

part of speech noun

A noun is a part of speech that refers to a person, place, thing, or idea. 

It's one of the most fundamental building blocks of language, providing names for the people, objects, and concepts we encounter in everyday life. 

According to the noun definition

"A noun is a word that represents a person, place, thing, or idea. It serves as the name for these entities, whether they are general (common nouns) or specific (proper nouns)."

Nouns can be categorized into different types, such as common nouns (which refer to general entities) and proper nouns (which specify unique entities). 

Additionally, nouns can be further classified based on their functions within sentences, such as subjects, direct objects, indirect objects, appositives, or modifiers. 

Noun Examples

  • Chair
  • City
  • Book
  • Barack Obama
  • London

Nouns can be a Name of Person:

  • John
  • Mary
  • David

Nouns can be a Name of Place:

  • Paris
  • New York City
  • Tokyo

Nouns can be a Name of Things:

  • Table
  • Car
  • Book

Types of Nouns with Examples

Understanding the various types of nouns is essential for understanding the complexities of language. 

In this section, we'll explore the different types of nouns, from common nouns to abstract nouns, providing explanations and examples for each category.

Common Nouns

Common nouns encompass a broad range of general entities, from everyday objects to universal concepts. They serve as the basic labels for people, places, things, and ideas. 


  • The teacher helps students learn.
  • The city has many buildings and roads.
  • I enjoy reading a good book.
  • Freedom is a cherished value in our society.

Proper Nouns

Proper nouns, in contrast to common nouns, specifically identify individual entities and are typically written in capital letters. These nouns denote specific names for people, places, or things.


  • John is my neighbor.
  • I visited Paris last summer.
  • The Mona Lisa is a famous painting.

Collective Nouns

Collective nouns refer to groups of people, animals, or things treated as a single entity. They denote a collective whole rather than individual members. 


  • My family enjoys spending time together.
  • The herd of elephants travels together.
  • A fleet of ships sailed across the ocean.

Countable Nouns

Countable nouns are entities that can be counted and have both singular and plural forms. They represent individual units that can be quantified.


  • He owns a beautiful house.
  • There are many apples in the basket.

Uncountable Nouns

Uncountable nouns, also known as mass nouns, cannot be counted individually and do not have a plural form. 

They represent substances, concepts, or qualities that are perceived as unbounded or continuous. 


  • Water covers most of the Earth's surface.
  • Happiness is a state of well-being.

Concrete Nouns

Concrete nouns denote tangible, physical objects that can be perceived by the senses. They represent things that exist in the physical world and can be experienced firsthand. 


  • The table is made of wood.
  • My cat loves to play with a ball of yarn.
  • Water is essential for life.

Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns represent intangible concepts, qualities, or ideas that cannot be perceived through the senses.


  • His wisdom impressed everyone in the room.
  • She experienced a profound sense of peace in nature.
  • The beauty of the sunset took my breath away.
  • His honesty was evident in every word he spoke.

Attributive Nouns

Attributive nouns are nouns that function as adjectives to modify other nouns. They are used to provide additional information or to specify the type or quality of the noun they modify. 

In this role, attributive nouns essentially act as descriptive adjectives.


  • Coffee table (The noun "coffee" describes the type of table.)
  • Summer dress (The noun "summer" indicates the season for which the dress is suitable.)
  • Book club (The noun "book" specifies the type of club.)

Gender-specific Nouns

Gender-specific nouns are nouns that specifically denote either male or female gender. These nouns can be used to refer to individuals based on their gender identity. 

In some cases, the gender specificity is inherent in the word itself, while in other cases, gender-specific titles or terms are used to differentiate between genders.


  • Actor/Actress: A male or female performer in a play, movie, or television show.
  • Father/Mother: A male or female parent.
  • Prince/Princess: A male or female member of royalty, typically the child of a monarch.
  • Gentleman/Lady: A polite term used to refer to a man or woman, respectively..


Gerunds are verb forms that function as nouns in a sentence. 

They are created by adding the "-ing" suffix to the base form of a verb, turning it into a noun while still retaining some characteristics of a verb.


  • Running is good exercise. (Here, "running" functions as the subject of the sentence.)
  • She enjoys dancing. (Here, "dancing" is the object of the verb "enjoys.")
  • His favorite hobby is reading. (Here, "reading" is the subject complement.)

Gerunds can function in various roles within a sentence, such as subjects, objects, subject complements, or objects of prepositions, and they are always treated as nouns.

Verbal Nouns

Verbal nouns, also known as deverbal nouns or nominalized verbs, are nouns derived from verbs. 

They represent actions or processes as objects or concepts and can function similarly to regular nouns in sentences.


  • Arrival: Derived from the verb "to arrive," this noun represents the action of arriving.
  • Singing: Derived from the verb "to sing," this noun represents the action of singing.
  • Reading: Derived from the verb "to read," this noun represents the action of reading.

Forming Plural Nouns

Forming the plural form of a noun is a fundamental aspect of English grammar. Plural nouns are used to indicate more than one person, place, thing, or idea. 

The rules for forming plural nouns vary depending on the spelling and structure of the singular-form noun. 

Here are some common guidelines for forming plural nouns:

1. Regular Nouns:

Most singular nouns form their plural by adding "s" to the end.
Example: Cat (singular) becomes cats (plural).

2. Singular Nouns Ending in S, X, Z, CH, SH:

Singular nouns ending in "s," "x," "z," "ch," or "sh" form their plural by adding "es" to the end.
Example: Box (singular) becomes boxes (plural).

3. Singular Nouns Ending in Consonant + Y:

Singular nouns ending in a consonant followed by "y" change the "y" to "i" and add "es" to form the plural.
Example: City (singular) becomes cities (plural).

4. Singular Nouns Ending in Vowel + Y:

Singular nouns ending in a vowel followed by "y" simply add "s" to form the plural.
Example: Boy (singular) becomes boys (plural).

5. Irregular Plurals:

Some nouns have irregular plural forms that do not follow the standard rules. These plurals must be memorized.
Example: Child (singular) becomes children (plural).

Functions of Nouns

Nouns serve various functions within sentences, allowing us to communicate effectively and convey meaning. 

Here are the different functions of nouns:

Nouns as Subjects

Nouns can function as the subject of a sentence, performing the action described by the verb or being described by the verb. They answer the question "who" or "what" is performing the action.

  • Example: The cat (noun) chased the mouse. (subject performing the action)

Nouns as Objects

Nouns can also function as objects in a sentence, receiving the action of the verb or being affected by the action. They answer the question "whom" or "what" the action is being done to.

  • Example: The cat chased the mouse (noun). (object receiving the action)

Nouns as Subject and Object Complements

Nouns can serve as subject or object complements, providing additional information about the subject or object of the sentence. They follow linking verbs and describe or rename the subject or object.

  • Example (Subject Complement): She is a doctor (noun). (subject complement renaming the subject)
  • Example (Object Complement): They painted the house blue (noun). (object complement describing the object)

Nouns as Appositives

Nouns can function as appositives, providing additional information or renaming another noun in the sentence. They are often set off by commas.

  • Example: My sister, Sara (noun), is a teacher. (appositive renaming "my sister")

Nouns as Modifiers

Nouns can also function as modifiers, describing or providing more information about other nouns in the sentence. They often precede the noun they modify.

  • Example: Dog (noun) collar (modifier) (describing the type of collar)

How Do You Identify a Noun in a Sentence?

Here are some exercises to practice identifying nouns in sentences:

Q: Identify nouns in the following sentences: 

1: "The dog chased the ball." _________________________________________

2: "Alice went to the park with her friends." __________________________________

3: "Happiness is a state of mind." __________________________________

4: "The cat sat on the windowsill." 


5: "John and Mary visited Paris last summer." _____________________________


1: Dog, Ball

2: Alice, Park, Friends

3: Happiness, State, Mind

4: Cat, Windowsill

5: John, Mary, Paris, Summer

Noun Phrase

A noun phrase is a group of words centered around a noun that functions as a single word/unit within a sentence. It typically consists of the noun and other words that modify or describe it. 

These modifying words can include articles, adjectives, determiners, and other nouns acting as modifiers. 

Noun phrases can vary in length and complexity, but they always serve to provide more information about the noun they accompany.

Expert Tip

Explore more with our detailed blog on phrases

Examples of Noun Phrases

  • The big red apple:

In this phrase, "the" is the article, "big" and "red" are adjectives modifying the noun "apple."

  • A beautiful sunrise: 

Here, "a" is the article, and "beautiful" is the adjective describing "sunrise."

  • The book about ancient civilizations: 

"The" is the article, and "about ancient civilizations" is a prepositional phrase functioning as an adjective modifying "book."

Noun Clause

A noun clause is a type of subordinate clause that functions as a noun within a sentence. It acts as a single unit and can serve various grammatical roles, such as subjects, objects, subject complements, or objects of prepositions. 

Noun clauses typically begin with words like "that," "wh- words" (who, what, where, when, why, how), or "if" and "whether."

Noun clauses are often introduced by subordinating conjunctions, and they perform the function of a noun within the sentence. They can act as subjects, objects, or complements.

Examples of Noun Clauses

  • Subject:

What she said surprised me. ("What she said" acts as the subject of the sentence.)

  • Object:

I know that you are busy. ("That you are busy" acts as the direct object of the verb "know.")

  • Subject Complement:

His dream is whatever he wants it to be. ("Whatever he wants it to be" acts as the subject complement, renaming "dream.")

  • Object of Preposition:

He is uncertain whether he should go. ("Whether he should go" acts as the object of the preposition "whether.")

Expert Tip

Read more about clauses to learn how to write and use them effectively in your writing. 

In conclusion, nouns are the foundation of language, providing names for people, places, things, and ideas. Understanding the various types of nouns allows for clearer communication and more precise expression. 

But are you sure about your grammar? Don't let small errors detract from your writing's impact. 

Ensure your work is polished and professional with's reliable grammar checker tool.

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Continue Learning

If you want to learn more about academic writing, grammar, and related concepts, check out these blogs. 




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Caleb S.


Caleb S. (Mass Literature and Linguistics, Masters)

Caleb S. is an accomplished author with over five years of experience and a Master's degree from Oxford University. He excels in various writing forms, including articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As a valued author at, Caleb assists students and professionals by providing practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style enhancement.

Caleb S. is an accomplished author with over five years of experience and a Master's degree from Oxford University. He excels in various writing forms, including articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As a valued author at, Caleb assists students and professionals by providing practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style enhancement.

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