Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

October 14, 2009

Dealing with Proper Nouns

This is the final post in my series on nouns and noun types. The final category is proper nouns.

Proper nouns

This is the name given to nouns which name people, institutions, organisations, books, paintings, plays etc. Proper nouns need a capital letter. They usually have no plural but can sometimes take a definite article (see my posting on names and titles)

some examples:

  • The United Nations
  • The Thames
  • Beethoven
  • Fanny Adams
  • Paris

Use of the definite article (the) with proper nouns

The following groups of proper nouns are usually used with the;

  • Geographical names the Galapagos Islands, the Rockies
  • Geographical features, canals, rivers, seas – the Suez Canal, the Nile, the Pacific, the Mediterranean
  • Names of ships – the Britannia, the Titanic, the Golden Hind
  • Public institutions (hotels, libraries, galleries, museums, restaurants)-  the Savoy, the National Gallery, the Victoria and Abert Museum, the Karachi
  • Newspapers and magazines – the Times, the Spectator, the National Geographic (note, however,Vogue, Newsweek)

 Some advice on capitalisation

In addition to the proper noun categories outlined above the following groups of words are usually written with an initial capital letter

  • Commercial products/brands – Ford, Mercedes, Mini
  • Holidays, months, and days of the week – Christmas, Monday February
  • Religions and their concepts – Christianity, Islam, a Hindu, God, Heaven, Devil, Hell
  • People or bodies with public function – the King, the President, Parliament, Commonwealth
  • Political parties – the Conservative Party, the Democrats, the Socialists
  • Languages and nationalities French, Chinese, the Germans, an Australian, Dutch
  • Family members – (optional) Uncle, Mother, Grandfather
  • Adjectives from proper nouns  Victorian, the Georgians, Socialism, Londoners

Proper nouns as common nouns

Sometimes proper nouns can behave like common nouns. The following are examples:

  • A person or family called …. – The Pearsons are coming next Friday.  I once knew a Jocelyn at school.
  • A person named for a particular characteristic – We can’t all be a Florence Nightingale! He’ll never be a Churchill!
  • Products or works by someone – Her art collection contained a Monet and a Gauguin. He had three Rolls and a Bentley!

 A little more information on the grammar and a quick exercise .

For more on nouns see these posts

That concludes my series on nouns. As ever practice makes perfect. If you are not sure check in a grammar book or post me a message and I’ll try and help you!



  1. […] Dealing with Proper Nouns « Rliberni’s Blog rliberni.wordpress.com/2009/10/14/dealing-with-proper-nouns – view page – cached This is the final post in my series on nouns and noun types. The final category is proper nouns. — From the page […]

    Pingback by Twitter Trackbacks for Dealing with Proper Nouns « Rliberni’s Blog [rliberni.wordpress.com] on Topsy.com — October 15, 2009 @ 8:16 am | Reply

  2. Thanks for giving information how to use nouns

    Comment by nivel — December 14, 2010 @ 11:40 am | Reply

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