An Introduction to Nouns in the English Language

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A list and brief description of the different types of nouns in the English Language. Handy for ESL Learners and Teachers.

This article is going to provide you with a basic outline to nouns in the English language. Remember, that this is only an introduction, the subject of different types of nouns and functions can fill and book, and quite often do! This short article provides you with the basic facts and introduction to nouns in English language.

Basically, a noun is used to name a person, place, thing or quality. There are many examples of this, honest, woman, television, house, table, chair, can, dog, and child.

There are many types of nouns that are used in the English language:

Gender Specific Nouns

Some nouns refer to a specific sex, for example, Waiter and Waitress. These are both gender specific nouns as you use waiter for a man and waitress for a woman. These types of nouns are not all that common in the English language, they have slowly died out. Some more gender specific nouns include manager (man) and manageress (woman), and actor (man) and actress (woman).

Common Nouns

A noun that denotes any or all members of a class. For example, animal, man, furniture. Common nouns are general names for things and can easily become proper nouns. For example, school (common noun) and London High School (proper noun).

Proper Nouns

The proper name of a thing, place or person, a proper noun always uses a capital letter at the start, for example, Dell, Paris, Daniel.

Uncountable Nouns

A noun that can't be counted, it also can't be made into a plural, for example, water, alcohol, petrol.

Countable Nouns

A noun that can be counted and can be made into plurals, for example, bicycle, table, television.

Collective Nouns

A noun that refers to a group of people or things, and is singular, for example, fruit, students.

Abstract Nouns

Nouns that you cannot touch or see, for example, defeat and sorrow.

Concrete Noun

Nouns that can be touched and seen, for example, pen, television, cat.

Compound Nouns

A noun made from two or more words put together. For example, bathroom, football. These nouns can either have a space in between them, e.g. dance floor; be hyphenated, e.g. air conditioner; or be one long word, e.g. schoolhouse.

Possessive Nouns

Refers to ownership of something, for example, this is the dog's bone.


Pronouns replace nouns so that we don't have to keep repeating it. For example, we, she, they, that, which.

Plural Nouns

When referring to 2 or more of something. For example, I have 6 children or I want 10 apples.


A verb that changes into a noun by adding -ing. For example, swimming, camping, etc.

Noun Functions

There are more nouns in the English language than any other word. The noun can also perform many functions in sentences, it can be the:

  • Object of a Preposition;
  • Subjective Complements;
  • Direct Address;
  • Predicative Nominatives;
  • Direct Objects Noun;
  • Phrase Modifiers;
  • Indirect Objects;
  • Possessive Modifiers;
  • Appositives;
  • Objective Complements; and
  • Nouns as Adverbials.

As you can see, there are many types of nouns and many uses or functions of nouns in the English language. Nouns also take different forms, some nouns are regular and some irregular, for example, pen and pens (regular noun), child and children (irregular noun).


This basic introduction to nouns will provide you with a basis to further understand nouns in the English language. This is by no means a detailed explanation of the subject, and I will provide further information on each type of noun in due course. This introduction to nouns in the English language shows you the various types of nouns and lists their different functions. Nouns are versatile names for things that can be used in a manner of ways, they can even incorporate verbs as nouns in the form of a gerund. Learning all the rules can be tiresome, but a sound understand of nouns and their functions will help you develop your English, especially so if you are learning English as a Second Language.