What are Proper Nouns? its Definition and Examples

Alis Mihaela

Ever wondered about those names we capitalize in sentences? Those are proper nouns – names for specific people, places, or things. In this guide, we’ll break down what proper nouns are, share some common examples, and discuss how they differ from common nouns.

What is a Proper Noun?

A proper noun is a name for someone or something unique. It’s always capitalized, setting it apart from common nouns that refer to general things.

Examples of Proper Nouns:

Let’s take a casual stroll through various categories with examples to get a grip on this:

Proper Nouns for People:

IndividualsAlbert Einstein, Oprah Winfrey
Groups of PeopleThe Beatles, The United Nations
TitlesPresident Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth II

Proper Nouns for Places:

CountriesFrance, Japan
CitiesParis, New York
LandmarksThe Eiffel Tower, The Grand Canyon

Proper Nouns for Things:

BrandsCoca-Cola, Apple
Books“To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Harry Potter”
CompaniesMicrosoft, Google

What is a Proper Noun and How does it differ from a Common Noun?

A proper noun is a specific name for someone or something, always capitalized. It denotes uniqueness, like “Albert Einstein” or “Paris.” In contrast, common nouns refer to general entities, requiring articles. For example, “Louvre Museum” is a proper noun, while “museum” is a common noun.

AspectProper NounCommon Noun
CapitalizationAlways capitalizedNot capitalized
SpecificityRefers to a particular individualRefers to a general class
Usage in SentencesCan stand alone in a sentenceTypically needs an article (a, an, the) or another determiner

Examples of Proper Noun vs Common Noun:

  1. Proper Noun: I visited the Louvre Museum.
    • Here, “Louvre Museum” is a proper noun, pointing to a specific place.
  2. Common Noun: I visited a museum.
    • In this case, “museum” is a common noun, just any general museum, not a particular one.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q1: What sets apart proper nouns from common nouns?

The main difference is how specific they are. Proper nouns are for unique individuals, places, or things, always getting the capital treatment. Common nouns, on the other hand, cover general groups without the capitalization.

Q2: Why do we always capitalize proper nouns?

Capitalizing proper nouns is like giving them a spotlight, making them stand out in a sentence. It’s just a way to make things clearer in writing.

Q3: Can a common noun become a proper noun?

Absolutely. When a common noun gets a specific name, it becomes a proper noun. For example, “river” is common, but “Mississippi River” is proper.

Q4: Are titles considered proper nouns?

Yes, titles get the proper noun treatment when they refer to specific folks. So, “President” becomes a proper noun when it’s in front of someone’s name, like “President Kennedy.”

Q5: Are all countries and cities proper nouns?

Indeed, the names of countries and cities are proper nouns. Think “France” and “Paris” – both get the capital nod.

Q6: Can a word be both a common noun and a proper noun?

Totally. A word can switch roles based on how it’s used. “Teacher” is a common noun, but it becomes a proper noun when you say “Mrs. Smith, the teacher.”


Proper nouns are the named VIPs in our language. Knowing when to capitalize them and understanding the difference from common nouns helps us talk about things more precisely. So, let’s keep it chill and use these grammar tools to make our conversations clearer.