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One of the most important types of words in English are nouns. Nouns are a part of speech that indicate people, things, objects, concepts, etc. There are seven types of nouns in English.
Abstract nouns are nouns that refer to concepts, ideas, and emotions, Abstract nouns are nouns that you cannot touch, are not made of materials, but play an important role in life. Here are some examples of common abstract nouns:
Tom has had a lot of success this past year.
Many people prefer to let love inspire them rather than hate.
Jack has little tolerance for people who waste his time.
The desire for power has ruined many good people.
Collective nouns refer to groups of various types. Collective nouns are most commonly used with groups of animals. Collective nouns can be used in both the singular and plural form, although collective nouns tend to be used in the singular. Here are some common collective nouns referring to groups of animals:
The herd of cattle moved to a new field to graze.
Be careful! There's a hive of bees someone near here.
Collective nouns are also commonly used for names of institutions and groups within institutions such as academic, business, and governmental organizations.
Staff will meet at ten-thirty tomorrow morning.
The sales department met its goals last quarter.
Common nouns refer to categories of things in general, never to specific examples. In other words, when speaking about education in general someone might refer to 'university' in a general sense.
I think Tom should go to university to study science.
In this case, 'university' is a common noun. On the other hand, when 'university' is used as part of a name it becomes part of a proper noun (see below).
Meredith decided to go to the University of Oregon.
Note that common nouns that are used as the part of a name and become proper nouns are always capitalized. Here are some common nouns that are often used as common nouns and parts of names:
There are a number of states which are in financial difficulty.
I think you need to go to college.
Concrete nouns refer to things that you can touch, taste, feel, and see. There are actual things that we interact with on a daily basis. Concrete nouns can be both countable and uncountable. Here are some typical concrete nouns:
Countable Concrete Nouns
Uncountable Concrete Nouns
There are three oranges on the table.
I need some water. I'm thirsty!
My friend has just bought a new car.
Can we have rice for dinner?
The opposite of concrete nouns are abstract nouns that do not refer to things we touch, but to things we think, ideas we have, and emotions we feel.
Pronouns refer to people or things. There are a number of pronoun forms depending on how the pronouns are used. Here are the subject pronouns:
He lives in New York.
They like pizza.
There are many different forms of pronouns including subject, object, possessive, and demonstrative pronouns.
Proper nouns are the names of people, things, institutions, and nations. Proper nouns are always capitalized. Here are some examples of common proper nouns:
University of California
Tom lives in Kansas.
I'd love to visit Canada next year.
Uncountable Nouns/Mass Nouns/Non-Count Nouns
Uncountable nouns are also referred to as mass nouns or non-count nouns. Uncountable nouns can be both concrete and abstract nouns and are always used in the singular form because they cannot be counted. Here are some common uncountable nouns:
We're having lovely weather this week.
We need to get some new furniture for our home.
Uncountable nouns can generally do not take a definite or indefinite article depending on usage.
Noun Types Quiz
Decide whether the following nouns in italics are abstract, collective, proper, common, or concrete nouns.
- There are two books on that table.
- That pack of students are on their way to classes.
- I grew up in Canada.
- She went to university in Alabama.
- You'll find that success can lead to pain as well as pleasure.
- The team chose Barney as their leader.
- Have you ever tried straight whiskey?
- I don't think he's in politics for power.
- Let's make some pasta for dinner.
- Be careful! There is a swarm of bees over there.
- books - concrete noun
- pack - collective noun
- Canada - proper noun
- university - common noun
- success - abstract noun
- team - collective noun
- whiskey - concrete noun (uncountable)
- power - abstract noun
- pasta - concrete noun (uncountable)
- swarm - collective noun