Proper Versus Common

You may have already guessed it, but I’m talking about nouns, not behavior. A common noun would be park. A proper noun would be Yellowstone National Park. 

Much to my surprise, Merriam-Webster had a definition:

Proper Noun

: a word or group of words that is the name of a particular person, place, or thing and that usually begins with a capital letter

Here are a few more examples off the top of my head: Grandma Betty, Mitch Romney, Skyline High School, Skippy, Boise, Round-Up, and Palm Beach International Airport.

But what about common nouns?

: a word that refers to a person, place, or thing but that is not the name of a particular person, place, or thing

This would include: schools, grandmothers, dogs, airports, governors, capital cities, weed killers, and so on.

Need an easy trick to figure out whether to capitalize a noun? Think: Is there only one of this person, place, or thing or more than one? If only one, capitalize; if not, lowercase.

Naturally, I’ll leave you with a couple of quizzes, so you can test your knowledge: This one is a beginner quiz, and here’s one that’s a little tougher.

Have any examples of tricky-to-identify nouns? Leave them in the comments, so we can discuss!

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