Proper Noun: Definition, Rules and Examples of Proper Nouns

There are various types of nouns within the English language, and one such type is the proper noun. When using proper nouns it is important to follow the correct rules in order to make a sentence which has meaning, structure and above all, makes sense. In this article, we are going to be looking at what a proper noun is and how it can be used within a sentence. We will also be looking at some examples to further demonstrate their function.

What Is A Proper Noun?

A proper noun may also be referred to as a proper name. It is a noun which refers to a specific person or place. This could be the name of a person or a country, for example.

The use of proper nouns during spoken conversation is not often considered to be important because the syntax is not affected, however, when we use a proper noun within our written work, it is important to ensure the correct use of capital letters. One important thing to remember when using a proper noun is that the first letter should ALWAYS be a capital. Let’s look at some examples of the proper noun.

  • Pride and prejudice
  • John Doe
  • The Eiffel tower
  • Australian outback

As you can see, all of these proper nouns refer to a specific thing rather than their common noun counterparts which would be a book, a man, a building or a place. By using a proper noun, you are able to give more information about the specific thing you are talking about.

Rules Of The Proper Noun

As with all areas of English grammar, there are certain rules which should be followed when using a proper noun. We are now going to take a look at these rules so that you can feel confident that your grammar will always be correct.

Capitalising The Proper Noun

As we mentioned, the proper noun should always begin with a capital letter. It is not uncommon for people to use a capital letter at inappropriate times during their writing and so it is important to remember to only use a capital letter when a proper noun is being used, this will make your text easier to read.

Proper Nouns As Relationships

Despite the proper noun requiring a capital letter, there are, of course, exceptions to the rule. Let’s take the use of family relationships as a proper noun, for example, dad, mom grandma etc. These words can be nouns but can also be used as a proper noun when you are using them to refer to someone by name. For the latter, they should be capitalised. Let’s look at some examples.

  • Please can you tell Dad that I have gone to my friend’s house?
  • My friend’s dad is a very nice guy.

The first example shows the word dad being used as a proper noun and so is capitalised, however in the second example, it is not.

Directions As Proper Nouns

The directions, as seen on a compass should only take a capital letter if they are being used as a place name. Here are some examples of this.

  • My aunt lives in South Korea.
  • My aunt lives in the south of Korea.

The first example uses the word south as a part of a place name and so is a proper noun, however, the second example uses it as a description of the location and so is not classed as a proper noun.

Things That Do And Don’t Need To Be Capitalised

It is sometimes difficult to determine what is a proper noun and therefore needs to take a capital letter, and what does not. Here are some examples of things that do and do not need to take a capital letter.

Capital Letter

  • Brand names
  • Weekdays
  • Month names

No Capital Letter

  • Seasons of the year
  • Job titles

Conclusion

The proper noun is something which gives us information on a specific item, place or person such as the title of a song or book, the name of a person or the name of a specific town or country.

There are certain rules which surround the use of the proper noun, most commonly how they use a capital letter at the beginning. These rules are simple to learn and apply to the use of proper nouns within your speech and written work.

Proper Noun Infographic

Proper Noun: Definition, Rules and Examples of Proper Nouns

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