Definition and Types of Noun

In this article, you will learn about the general definition of noun, definition of noun in major dictionaries, examples of noun, categories and types of noun, gerund noun vs verbal noun and at last you will find a quiz on noun with 10 MCQs. 

definition and types of noun

Definition of Noun

A noun is a word used for a place, person, or thing. Everything, which has a name and we talk about it, is a noun. We donate everything by a name and that naming word is “noun”.

Often a noun will be the name for something we can touch (e.g., lambpentable), but sometimes a noun will be the name for something we cannot touch (e.g., happiness, determinism, truth).

Some Examples of Noun

We represent everything by a word that is called a noun. Some examples of noun are written below.

  • PeopleAli, boy, singer.
  • AnimalsCat, cow, elephant.
  • PlacesKarachi, city, street.
  • ObjectsCup, pencil, book.
  • QualitiesBoldness, sorrow.
  • Actions: Writing, listening, running.

Definition of Noun in Major Dictionaries

Below are the definitions of noun from some of the major dictionaries.

Definition of Noun in Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a noun as: “a word or a phrase that is the name of something (as a person, place, or thing) and that is used in a sentence especially as subject or object of a verb or as a subject of a preposition.

Definition of Noun in Oxford Learner’s Dictionary

Oxford Learner’s Dictionary defines a noun as: “a word that refers to a person, (such as Ann or doctor), a place (such as Paris or city), or a thing, a quality or an activity (such as plan, joy or tennis).

Types of Noun

There are many types of noun depending upon some aspects. One noun may fall in multiple categories. A common noun may be a countable noun and at a same time that noun may b a concrete e.g., pencil is a common noun; it is countable, concrete and as well, it is a singular noun. Some main categories and types of noun are below.

  • Proper noun vs Common noun
  • Concrete noun vs Abstract noun
  • Collective noun vs Compound Noun
  • Countable noun vs Uncountable noun
  • Gerund noun vs Verbal noun

Proper Noun vs Common Noun

Proper Noun

A proper noun is the name of a person, or a specific place or thing, i.e. its own name (e.g., Imran, Karachi, Rover). A proper noun always starts with a capital letter. All days and months are proper noun and start with capital letters (e.g., Sunday, March, December). Name of all Person, name of countries, name of oceans are counted in the category of proper nouns (e.g., Mashal, Pakistan, Atlantic)

Example: I met to my best friend, Mashal, on Sunday(In this sentence, Mashal and Sunday are proper nouns)

Common Noun

A common noun is a type of noun that we use for a class of person, place, or thing (e.g., person, city, and dog). We do not capitalize common noun unless used in start of a sentence. There are some exception like in poetry where every word of the new line is capitalized. Something that is personified in poetry is also capitalized e.g., “So Nature incites them in their hearts” ( Prologue- Geoffrey Chaucer) here word poetry is personified, therefore it is capitalized. 

Example: A person was walking on the road with his black dog(In this sentence, person, road, and dog are common nouns)

common nouns

Concrete Noun vs Abstract Noun

Concrete Noun

Concrete nouns are the things which we can see or touch physically. These nouns contrast with the abstract category of noun. For example: tree, hammer, pen. We can see them feel them or touch them. Some time we name it material noun. 

Example: A hammer is a tool to hit on something.

Abstract Noun

Abstract nouns are things you cannot see or touch. Abstract nouns do not have a physical existence. These nouns are difficult to guess. Sometime learner get confused with abstract noun and adjectives. Abilities and emotions are abstract noun e.g. bravery, joy, determination, etc.

Example: Aristotle was a brave man who stood with the truth.

Collective Noun vs Compound noun

Collective Noun

Collective nouns are words that denote groups collection or multitude of something. We use these nouns as a singular noun e.g., team, army, concert.

Example: everyone was supporting his own team during a football match.

Compound Noun

Compound nouns are nouns made up of more than one word. For example: court-martial, pickpocket, water bottle. Some compound nouns are two words (e.g., peace pipe), some are hyphenated (e.g., play-off), and some have become single words (e.g., eyeopener). And, many of them are currently transitioning through those stages. Therefore, spelling compound nouns can be a nightmare. Some compound nouns form their plural by adding an (s) to the principal word, not necessarily to the end (e.g., brothers-in-law).

Example: Please take my raincoat, outside is raining.

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Countable Noun vs Uncountable Noun

Countable Noun

A countable noun is a noun that can be counted in numbers like one pen, two cars with both a singular and a plural form (e.g., dog/dogs, pie/pies).

Example: I have two black pen.

Uncountable Noun

An uncountable noun is a noun without a plural form For example: oxygen, patience. such noun do not include counting. All abstract noun falls under the uncountable category of nouns.

Example: Please take some water.

Gerund Noun vs Verbal Noun

Gerund Noun

Like other types of noun, gerunds are also nouns that end -ing and have verb like qualities. But these are used differently in a sentence unlike verbs. We modified gerund noun with adverbs. How to differentiate gerund noun and verb? Look at two examples:

(a) Ali is singing a song.

(b) Ali is fond of singing. 

In sentence (a), singing is a verb as its show action that Ali is performing. Verb with -ing are used followed by helping verbs is, am, was, were, etc. But in sentence (b) singing is not an action being performed by Ali and not followed by a helping verb.

Verbal Noun

We derive Verbal nouns from verbs and do not have verb-like properties (e.g., building, drawing, attack). Verbal nouns are modified by determines and adjectives.

Example: The color of our residential building is red.

In above example, the word building is a noun, and this noun is derived from verb build. The word building is a verb, gerund and verbal noun at a same time. Look at a few example to differentiate it.

Examples in a sentence: 

  • They are building a plaza. (verb)
  • I love red buildings. (verbal noun)
  • Building a multi-story plaza can be time taking. (gerund)

Note: Read an article on difference between gerund, verbal noun and present participle

Gender-specific Nouns

Generally, we place gender-specific nouns under the category of a separate type of nouns that we use to define a male or female. Examples of gender specific noun are: king, vixen, actress, etc. 

blonde is a woman. blond is a man. Both words are also gender specific noun that are defining the gender.

Example: Queen Elizabeth II was fond of horse riding.

About Authoress: The article “Definition and Types of Noun” was written by Sayeda Javaria. You can reach her at or view her profile at Sayeda Javaria Hanan .