Definition of Noun

A noun is a word used to represent a number of things, such as:

  • Objects (e.g. chair)
  • Names (e.g. David)
  • People (e.g. man)
  • Abstract concepts (e.g. love)
  • Places (e.g. Arkansas)
  • Periods of time (e.g. night)
  • Animals (e.g. bear)
  • Events (e.g. Thanksgiving)
  • Time unit (e.g. week)

And so on. There are at least 550,000 nouns in the English language.

Easy, right?

The image below shows you a few simple nouns:

Noun Examples

A noun describes something concrete (material) or abstract (immaterial) and is divided into two categories: common noun and proper noun.

The common noun is the name of a single item in a class or group (e.g. an orange). A common noun is not capitalized unless it appears in a title or at the beginning of a sentence. It is frequently divided into three types: concrete nouns, abstract nouns, and collective nouns. A concrete noun is something solid, material, real, like a cat or a molecule or a book. An abstract noun is something immaterial like anger or anticipation. Finally, a collective noun describes a group of things (e.g. a murder of crows).

A proper noun names someone (e.g. Kevin), someplace (e.g. London), something (e.g. The Stone of the Sun) or a title of a work (e.g. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone). A proper noun is always capitalized, regardless of circumstances.

To some people, power is a noun. To others, it's a verb.

There are other kinds of nouns, such as count nouns and mass nouns.

A count noun is a word that can be used in the singular and plural forms.

Examples include: bird and birds; treasure and treasures; cup and cups; vitamin and vitamins; egg and eggs; bottle and bottles; towel and towels; wall and walls.

A singular count noun is paired with a singular verb (e.g. the hair is dry) while a plural count noun is paired with a plural verb (e.g. the hairs are dry).

A mass noun, also known as a noncount noun or an uncountable noun, describes something that is, as the name implies, uncountable.

This can be because the thing itself is abstract (e.g. fearlessness) or because we’re talking about a congregation of things (e.g. the bourgeoisie).

I’m only sticking to the noun categories that are accepted by The Chicago Manual of Style, but there are other special types of nouns, such as technical nouns. Here are some examples of those if you’re interested.

Nouns are, for most people, easy to understand. Little children usually understand nouns before grasping the other more complex parts of the English language.

Verbs are usually considered to be the most complex part of speech.


Huddleston, Rodney D. 1984. Introduction To The Grammar Of English. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]: Cambridge University Press.

Langacker, Ronald W. 1991. Foundations Of Cognitive Grammar. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press.

Lock, Graham. 1996. Functional English Grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.