Common Nouns | All you need to know

Common nouns are the name of a class or group of things that are the same, such as (chair, box), and not the name of an individual or object.

We can also define common noun as a name given in common to every person or thing of same class or kind.

Usually, we are not allowed to write common nouns use capital letters, except if the word or noun is at the beginning of a sentence.

Look at the following examples of common nouns.

People: aunt, boy, butcher, carpenter, cousin, father, girl, lady, man, mother, tailor, woman.

Things: bicycle, book, car, computer, dress, hammer, key, pencil, ship, table, vase, wallet

Animals: armadillo, baboon, bee, caterpillar, cow, dog, eagle, fish, monkey, snake, turkey

Places: airport, beach, cemetery, church, country, hospital, library, mall, park, restaurant, zoo etc.

Common Noun List and Example infographic
Common Noun infographic

Nouns like School, College, Hospital, Mosque, Church, Prison etc. may be used with or without article “the”. We don’t use “the” with the places when talk “being in that building” like school, college, hospital etc. but we must use “the” when we take them as specific buildings. For example,

Read also: Kinds of Nouns

Nouns like School, College, Hospital, Mosque, Church, Prison etc. may be used with or without article “the”. We don’t use “the” with the places when talk “being in that building” like school, college, hospital etc. but we must use “the” when we take them as specific buildings. For example,

He is in hospital. (he himself being in the hospital thus no article is used.)

He waited for me in hospital. (His presence shows specific building.)

These nouns look plural but are in fact singular.

Names of subjects of Arts and Science.

  • Mathematics
  • Linguistics
  • Phonetics
  • Economics
  • Electronics
  • Physics
  • Alms

However, nouns like Mathematics, Politics and Statistics have dual meaning. They can be used either singular or plural depending upon their use.

MathematicsSubject…….used singular.
MathematicsFormulas……..used plural.
Politics Subject…….used singular.
PoliticsTactics…….used plural.
Statistics Subject…….used singular.
StatisticsCalculations…….used plural.

To know the correct usage of above nouns, some examples are given here.

CORRECTINCORRECT
Phonetics is a study of sound
system of human language.
Phonetics are a study of sound
system of human language.
His statistics to solve this problem are insufficient. His statistics to solve this problem is insufficient
His Statistics is weak. His Statistics are weak.

Some nouns are made plural by adding “grains of” with them. These are the names of those things which consist of grains. For example,

  • Grains of sugar.
  • Grains of rice.
  • Grains of wheat.

The words like “news” and “wages” are always used as singular though appear to be plural. For example,

  • This news is presented by TV anchor.
  • The wages of sin is death.

Names of common diseases (though look plural) are used as singular. For example, Measles, Mumps, Rickets.

  • Measles is spread in the colony.

Similarly, names of some games though look plural but are used as singular. For example, Billiards, Draughts, Innings.

They lost the match by an innings and twenty runs.

A verb must agree with its subject in number and person. It is called “Error of proximity”. Most of the time error occurs when a verb is made to agree with the noun instead of its number. For example,

  • The quality of mangoes was not good.
  • The gradual elevation of the abilities of Intermediate student is necessary by giving standard and up to date syllabus.

Two or more singular nouns jointed by “and” require plural verb. For example,

  • Gold and Silver are precious metal.

In the same way, water and fire, knowledge and wisdom etc.

But

When nouns jointed by “and” suggest one idea to the mind or refer to same thing or person, they are used as singular. For example,

Time and tide, the horse and card, bread and butter, honor and glory, rise and fall, my friend and my benefactor, the novelist and writer.

Example sentences

  • Bread and butter is not easy to earn.
  • Rise and fall is part of life.
  • Time and tide waits for none.

When nouns are jointed with singular subject by “with”, “along” or “as well as”, singular subject must be used.

Example sentences,

  • The house with all its contents is burnt.
  • Spanish as well as English is taught here.
  • Tables with their sheets are sold here.

Two or more singular subjects connected by “or” or “nor” required singular verb. For example, No book or corner was left dirty.

When one of the subjects jointed by “or” or “nor” is plural, then plural verb must be used and be careful that the plural subject must be placed near the verb. For example,

  • Neither the subordinates nor the officer are present. (Wrong)
  • Neither the officer nor the subordinates are present. (Right)

When the subjects connected by “or” or “nor” are of different persons, the verb agrees with the nearer. For example,

  • Either my brother or I are mistaken. (Wrong)
  • Either my brother or I am mistaken. (Right)

Words like “means” or “pains” either take singular or plural forms depending upon their construction. The word “means” is used as plural when used in sense of “income”.

These examples shows usage of “means” in singular and plural forms.

  • His means are much reduced due to heavy loss.
  • The means used by you is not sufficient.

“None” is either used as singular or plural. For example,

  • None are not as cruel as would not help her in such condition.
  • None are so deaf as those who will not hear.

When a plural noun denotes some specific quantity or amount considered as a whole, singular verb is used. For example, Fifteen miles is a long distance for me.

Following nouns are always used as plural.

AssetsAuspices
AboriginesChattels
DregsBowels
ShoesUps and downs
FettersSocks
StockingsScissors
SpectaclesGlasses
CattleSwine
GentryPublic
VerminPeople

Look at these example sentences.

The auspices of United Nations are necessary for restoring peace in Africa.

Usually, we use “a pair of scissors” to make it plural.

Following nouns are always used singular.

NewsHair
InningsMeans
AlphabetAbuse
FurnitureSheep
MachinerySavings Account
GallowsGymnastics
InformationScenery

However, the plural of news, information can be pieces or items of news and pieces of information. In the same way, plural of abuse is “words of abuse”. The word “hair” is only used as singular. However, its plural can be hairs if the color of hair is other than white or black.

Similarly, plural of sheep can be heads of sheep, plural of furniture is articles of furniture and plural of machinery is pieces of machinery.

All words ending in “ics” or “tics” are usually used as singular in English but if they are used in their secondary meanings, they are taken as plural. For example, physics, linguistics, phonetics, civics, politics, mechanics, optics, mathematics etc.

  • You statistics are wrong in this matter.
  • Statistics is usually considered as a difficult subject.

Certain words are always plural and take a plural verb for example, clothes, police.

Garments consisting of two parts like breeches, pants, pajamas, trousers etc.

Tools and instruments consisting of two parts.

Binoculars, pliers, scissors, spectacles, glasses, scales, shears etc.

Also certain other words including arms, particulars, damages (compensation), premises, quarters, earnings, riches, goods, wares, savings, greens (vegetables), spirits (alcohol), grounds, stairs, outskirts, surroundings, pains (trouble/effort), valuables.

Nouns “man” and “woman” don’t take article “the” before them unless they refer to some specific “man” or “woman”.

For example,

  • Man is mortal.
  • I know the man who is your neighbor.

Following nouns are not made plural by adding “s” or “es” at their end. Instead such additions change their meanings.

Pain Pains
Work Works
Blind Blinds
Water Waters
Wood Woods
Study Studies
Short Shorts