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(Redirected from Proper noun)

A noun, or noun substantive, is a word or phrase that refers to a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality. Nouns are parts of speech and can be classified in different ways such as proper nouns (e.g. "Janet") versus common nouns (e.g. "girl"), or collective nouns (e.g. "bunch", "herd"). Nouns can be substituted by pronouns (e.g. "she" and "which"). The word noun derives from Latin nomen meaning "name" (as a noun can be considered an object, person, or concept's name).

Further classifications include the distinction between concrete nouns and abstract nouns. Concrete nouns refer to definite objects (e.g. chair, apple, Janet) and abstract nouns refer to ideas or concepts (e.g. justice, liberty). While sometimes useful, the boundaries between these two are not always clear.

In sentences, nouns occur in several different ways, the most common being as subjects (performers of action), or objects (recipients of action). In the sentence "John wrote me a letter", "John" is a subject; "me" and "letter" are objects (of which "letter" is a noun and "me" a pronoun).


Proper noun

Proper nouns (also called proper names) are names and denote unique entities.

The meaning of a proper noun, outside of what it references, is frequently arbitrary or irrelevant (for example, someone might be named Tiger Smith despite being neither a tiger nor a smith). Because of this, they are usually not translated between languages, although they may be transliterated--for example, the German surname "Knödel" becomes "Knoedel" in English, as opposed to "Dumpling".

Proper nouns are capitalized in English and most or all other languages that use the Latin alphabet; this is one easy way to recognize them. (This fails, however, in German, in which nouns of all types are capitalized.) Other words that are often or always capitalized in English include:

This "proper non-noun" phenomenon of English is by no means a universal trait of languages: it does not occur in Romance languages, nor, despite their common Germanic roots, in German. Another capitalization anomaly in English is the word "I"; it could logically be construed as a proper name referring to a unique object, even though it is a pronoun normally used by anyone who speaks of themselves.

Sometimes the same word can appear as both a common noun and a proper noun, where one such entity is special; for example:

  • there can be many gods, but there is only one God.

Mass noun

A mass noun is a noun that cannot combine with numerals or quantifiers (examples: "one", "two", "several", "every", "most", ...) or with grammatical number, i.e. singular vs. plural. Examples: "two chairs" vs. "*two furnitures".

It is often thought that a mass noun is a type of common noun that represents a substance not easily quantified by a number. This is based on the fact that substances like water are indeed difficult to count. Mass nouns like "furniture" or "cutlery", which represent more easily quantified substances, show that the mass/count distinction should be thought of as pertaining to the expressions themselves, rather than to the substances they represent. To see this, consider the fact that the same set of chairs can be referred to both as "seven chairs" and as "furniture". Thus it is the expressions, not the entities or substances they refer to which are mass or count.

After the work of logicians like Godehard Link and Manfred Krifka, we know that the mass/count distinction can be given a precise, mathematical definition in terms of quantization and cumulativity.

Examples from English include "cheese", "laughter", "cutlery", "furniture" and "precision".


  • Janet is the name of a girl.
  • Whistling off-key is annoying to me, but not to everybody.
  • Cleanliness is next to godliness.
  • The World Wide Web has become the least expensive way to publish information.

Related articles

External links

ca:Substantiu cs:Podstatn jmno da:Navneord de:Substantiv es:Sustantivo eo:Substantivo fr:Nom ko:명사 is:Nafnor nl:Zelfstandig naamwoord ja:名詞 nn:substantiv pl:Rzeczownik simple:Noun fi:Substantiivi sv:Substantiv uk:Іменник zh:名詞


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