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What is a Proper Noun?

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What is a Proper Noun?
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Basics on the topic What is a Proper Noun?

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Pip is helping Koko prepare for her big debut at the art gallery. His job is to write a one sentence description of Koko's paintings, but there's one problem...Pip didn't capitalize the proper nouns and the gallery is opening soon! However, Pip doesn’t know what is proper noun. Let's help Pip fix his mistakes so they're ready in time by learning: What is a proper noun?

What Are Proper Nouns, and How Do I Use Them?

Below, we will learn what is the definition of proper noun and how to identify proper nouns, along with proper noun rules and proper noun examples.

What is the Definition of a Proper Noun?

What does proper noun mean? The proper noun meaning is similar to a common noun. A proper noun gives a special name to a common noun and always starts with a capital letter. Now that we know the proper noun definition, let’s take a look at the difference between common noun and proper noun.

Common Noun vs Proper Noun

The definition of a proper noun is a little different from the definition of a common noun. A common noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. In case you forgot what's a proper noun, a proper noun gives a special name to a common noun and always starts with a capital letter. As you can see, they are closely related but different from each other. You may be wondering, are proper nouns always capitalized? In the next section, we will discuss the proper noun capitalization rules.

Proper Noun Capitalization

Do proper nouns always start with a capital letter? The answer is yes, proper noun words will always be capitalized. In order to know if you are looking at a sentence with a proper noun, it is important to know all types of proper nouns. What are all the proper nouns? Below is a list of all the different types:

  • Names of people or characters
  • Titles of people
  • Names of places
  • Calendar days and months
  • Holidays
  • Brands and company names
  • Titles

In order to know the answer to questions like, “is a name a proper noun?”, and, “is a title a proper noun?” it is important to remember the different types of proper nouns. Next, we will see an example of a proper noun

What is an Example of a Proper Noun

The first painting Pip wrote a description for is pictured below. See if you can find an example of proper noun he forgot to capitalize. Here’s a hint: there’s more than one!

queen-bertha-treats-herself-on-national-ice-cream-day-proper-nouns.svg

Queen is a proper noun example because it is Bertha's title and it is at the beginning of the sentence, so it needs a capital ‘Q’.

queen-with-a-capital-q-bertha-treats-herself-on-national-ice-cream-day-proper-nouns.svg

Bertha is a proper noun example because it is the hippo's name, so it needs a capital ‘B’.

queen-bertha-with-a-capital-b-treats-herself-on-national-ice-cream-day-proper-nouns.svg

Last, "National Ice Cream Day" is a proper noun example because it is a holiday, so it should also be capitalized.

queen-bertha-treats-herself-on-national-capital-n-ice-capital-i-cream-capital-c-day-capital-d-proper-nouns.svg

Whats a Proper Noun Summary

Do you remember how to define proper noun? A proper noun gives a special name to a common noun and always starts with a capital letter. It’s important to always follow the proper noun capitalization rules when using proper noun examples in sentences.

Now that you’ve learned the proper noun definition and examples, it’s time to practice! On this website you will find proper noun activities and proper noun worksheets!

Transcript What is a Proper Noun?

Pip is helping Koko prepare for her big debut at the art gallery. His job is to write a one sentence description of Koko's paintings, but there's one problem... Pip didn't capitalize the proper nouns and the gallery is opening soon! Let's help Pip fix his mistakes so they're ready in time by learning... "What is a Proper Noun?" A noun, also known as a common noun, is a person, place, thing, or idea. A proper noun gives a special name to a common noun (...) and ALWAYS starts with a capital letter regardless of its location in a sentence. There are seven types of proper nouns: names of people or characters (...) such as Pip... titles of people, (...) such as Queen Bertha... names of places, (...) such as The Leaning Tower of Pisa... calendar days and months, (...) such as Tuesday October thirty-first... holidays, (...) such as the Fourth of July... brands and company names, (...) such as Tater Potato Chips... and titles (...) such as this painting called, "The Very Hungry Hippo". Now that we know different types of proper nouns, let's look at Pip's descriptions to see if we can find the proper nouns he forgot to capitalize! This description says, "queen bertha treats herself on national ice cream day." What did Pip forget to capitalize in this sentence? (...) Queen is a proper noun because it is Bertha's title AND it is at the beginning of the sentence, so it needs a capital . Bertha is a proper noun because it is the hippo's name, so it needs a capital . What else did Pip forget to capitalize? (...) "National Ice Cream Day" is a proper noun because it is a holiday, so it should also be capitalized. We capitalized all the proper nouns Pip forgot! Let's check another description. It says, "Early on monday, the wallaby times newspaper delivered the story 'kangaroo strike' to all of australia." What did Pip forget to capitalize in this sentence? (...) Monday' is a proper noun because it is a calendar day, so it needs a capital . What else did Pip forget to capitalize in this sentence? (...) The Wallaby Times' is a proper noun because it is the name of the newspaper, so it should also be capitalized. (...) 'Kangaroo Strike' is a proper noun because it is the title of the story or article... and 'Australia' is a proper noun because it is the name of a place, so it should be capitalized. We helped fixed all the descriptions just in time! Before we see how the art gallery turned out, let's summarize. Remember (...) a proper noun gives a special name to a common noun and ALWAYS starts with a capital letter. There are seven types of proper nouns: names of people or characters, (...) titles of people, (...) names of places, (...) calendar days and months, (...), holidays, (...), brands and company names, (...), and titles. "Koko, could you please come here for a second?" "Pip! What happened in here!?" "I made art."

What is a Proper Noun? exercise

Would you like to apply the knowledge you’ve learned? You can review and practice it with the tasks for the video What is a Proper Noun? .
  • What are proper nouns?

    Hints

    Remember that some of the types of proper nouns are names of people and places, such as: New York City.

    Common nouns are non-specific places or things, such as ball, garden or dog.

    Solution
    • All days of the week are proper nouns and need capital letters.
    • Specific names of people or characters are proper nouns and need capital letters.
    • Specific places such as cities, are proper nouns and need capital letters.
    • Everyday objects, items, or non-specific places are common nouns and should not be capitalized.
  • Preparing for the exhibition.

    Hints

    Is the missing word a name, title or day of the week? These are all proper nouns.

    Remember that all proper nouns must start with a capital letter.

    Verbs and verb forms do not have a capital letter, unless they are at the start of a sentence.

    Solution

    Koko had been creating the pieces of art for weeks. She started before Christmas and now it is almost Spring!

    Thankfully, Pip is there to help her get everything ready. His favorite piece is the one of her majesty, Queen Bertha.

    They decided to hold the exhibition on a Saturday as they thought this would be the busiest day of the week.

    It was as busy as they hoped, and they to spend all of Sunday cleaning up the mess!

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    • art is not a proper noun, it is a common noun.
    • Pip is a proper noun because it is a name and Queen is a proper noun as it is a title.
    • Saturday is a proper noun as it is a name of a day of the week.
    • cleaning is not a proper noun, it is a form of the verb, to clean.
  • A letter from Pip.

    Hints

    If the word is part of a title, each word should be capitalized, for example: The Great Peach Pie might be a title of an art piece and therefore be capitalized, but peach and pie on their own would not be capitalized.

    Have you checked that there are capital letters for the names of people or characters?

    Remember that days and dates are both proper nouns.

    Solution

    Here is the version of the article with the errors highlighted.

    • Names, dates, places, and titles of people and things all need capital letters. While 'hippo' is a common noun, in this case, it is the title of the painting, and therefore has a capital letter.
  • Amazing art work.

    Hints

    In a title, all major words, including nouns, verbs, and adjectives, should have a capital letter.

    Do you know your upper and lower case letters? Look at these letters and decide whether they are upper case (capitals) or lower case.

    Solution

    These are how the pieces of art work should have been labeled:

    • The Very Hungry Hippo.
    • Paris in the Autumn.
    • The Leaning Tower of Pisa.
    • Our Great Queen Bertha.
    The images show the capital letters that are already correct highlighted in green, and the capital letters that were missing highlighted in pink.

    While 'hippo' is a common noun, in this case it is part of the title and therefore needs a capital letter. 'Very' and 'Hungry' would not usually have capital letters, but here they are used as part of the title of artwork and are therefore capitalized.

  • Proper and common nouns.

    Hints

    Look at this reminder of the types of proper nouns.

    If the noun type is not on the list, then it is a common noun.

    Solution

    Here are the correct common nouns and proper nouns.

    While city is a common noun, the name of the city, London, is a proper noun.

    While holiday is a common noun, types of holidays, like Christmas or New Year, are proper nouns.

  • Visitor reviews of the exhibition.

    Hints

    Make sure that all proper nouns, including titles, names, and days have capital letters.

    All sentences must start with a capital letter.

    Is 'name' a proper noun? Or is it only the actual name?

    Solution

    Three of the reviews were incorrectly punctuated. The correct capitalization is shown in bold below:

    • This was a great exhibition! I am definitely coming back on Monday with my friend!
    • Wow! The Queen Bertha artwork was so cool. My friend Jill said it was her favorite!
    • I came to see the exhibition on a school trip. My teacher, Miss Jones, loved the Hungry Hippo piece the most.