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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Writers Workshop: Writer Resources

Grammar Handbook: Common and Proper Nouns

Nouns can be divided into two categories: common nouns and proper nouns.

Common Nouns

Common nouns name ordinary things that are not specific or important enough to be capitalized (except at the beginning of a sentence). Common nouns refer to any of a class of people, places, or things. Common nouns include most of the nouns used to name things.

A few examples: key, flower, dog, city

Proper Nouns

Proper nouns name particular people, places, or things, that are special enough to be always capitalized.

A few examples: President Clinton, Georgia, Sony, Catholic, Pacific Ocean, Melissa, McDonalds, Walnut Street