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Updated: Oct 31, 2023


Nouns are of five different kinds :‑

(a) Proper

(b) Common or Class

i. Concrete (c) Collective

(d) Material

ii. Abstract (e) Abstract

1. A Concrete Noun is the name of an object of sense, that is, an object which can be seen, touched, heard, smelt or tasted: boy, dog, song, flower, milk.

11. An Abstract Noun is the name of a quality, action or state belonging to an object: softness, smile, wealth, silence.

NOTE.. (a) Generally all nouns ending in -Hess, -lion, -hood, -ship, -dam, -ment, -ism, -tit, -ty, -ce, -cy are Abstract: goodness, kindness, education, -childhood, friendship, kingdom, attachment, Gandhism, strength, cruelty, justice. infancy, etc.

(b ) Names of sciences, art and diseases are now treated as Abstract Nouns : music, politics, grammar, malaria, etc. "But when different kinds or attacks of a disease are meant, they become Common Nouns. Thus, "I had one of my headaches" "Fevers are generally preceded by chills or rigour. -- Wren .

A Proper Noun is the name of one particular person, place,

thing or event (or group of persons or places)as distinct from every other :

Ramesh, the Ganga, Calcutta, the Himalayas, the French Revolution, the Ramayana, the Hindus.

(a) A Common or Class Noun denotes no one person or thing in particular but is common to any and every person or thing of the same kind.

Thus, man (not any particular man, but any and every man), book (not any particular book like the Bible, the Vedas, the Koran, etc., but any and ever), book), river (not any particular river like the (Tanga, the Indus, but any and ever3 river ), country (not any particular country, but an), and every country) are Common Nouns.

(b) There are a few Nouns, generally classed as Common, which are sometimes called Singular Nouns, because there is only one of each of them known to us : earth, sun, moon, etc.

(c) When God and Lord refer to the Almighty, they are Proper; but when they refer to the different gods of mythology and temporal lords, they are Common.

A Collective Noun is the name of a group or collection or persons or things taken as a whole

Thus, in "a flock of sheep", "sheep" is a Com -on Noun, because it stands for any and every sheep; but "flock "is a Collective Noun, because it stands for all the sheep referred to, taken together, and not any one sheep taken separately. Similarly in "an army of soldiers", "a crowd of people", army and crowd arc Collective Nouns, as they stand respectively for all the soldiers and people referred to, taken together.

The Noun of Multitude is practically the same as the Collective Noun. But a distinction is often made between them:—

A. Collective Noun denotes one individual whole ; hence, the verb is singular. The army was defeated. The committee has approved the decision.

B. A Noun of Multitude denotes the individuals of the group ; hence the verb is plural although the noun is singular in form. The Jury (the men on the jury) were divided in their opinions.

A Material Noun denotes the matter or substance, of which things are made.

It is also called the Mass Noun.

Thus, river is a Common Noun, but water, of which it is made, is a Material Noun; sheep is a Common Noun, but mutton, the flesh of a sheep, is a Material Noun.

Nouns can also be classified generally as countable and uncountable:

(a) Countable nouns stand for something that can be counted : boy, apple, men, tree, house etc. Only countable nouns have a plural form and can be used with the indefinite article (a, an ) in the singular or many, few, a few, several etc. in the plural :

a school, a boy, an umbrella, many cows, few books, several boys.

(b) Uncountable nouns stand for something that cannot be counted though they can be measured : water, air, grass, glass, wood, sand etc. Such nouns have no plural form and are not used with the indefinite article. They are preceded by much, little to denote amount or quantity :

murk money, little water.

Some of these can, however, be both countable and uncountable according to the context in which they are used, with a change in their meaning :

paper= the substance on which we write. (Uncountable) a paper= a newspaper, a piece of paper. (Countable) glass = the material. (Uncountable)

a glass = a tumbler. (Countable)

wood= The table is made of wood. (Uncountable)

a wood = The bungalow is in the middle of a wood. ((;ountable) copper= metal. (Uncountable)

a copper = coin. (Countable)

1. A Proper Noun becomes Common:

(a) When it is used in the descriptive sense to denote an object of a character similar to itself : Valmiki is the Homer (=a great poet like Homer) of India.

(b) When it applies to several persons of the same name : I know the Patels of Bombay. There are two Surens here.

2. Material and Abstract Nouns become Common :‑

(a) When they are particularized. The water of this tank is clear. The gold of Golconda is pure. They praised the honesty of the boy., He committed a theft.

(b) When they denote things instead of the material, and objects possessing the quality instead of the quality itself

© He was put in irons (chain made of iron). He is a Justice (=Judge) of the, High Court. She is a beauty (a beautiful lady). This use of the Abstract Noun is known as Abstract for Concrete.

3. A Collective Noun becomes Common when it denotes more groups than one : The armies of the allies came in time.

NOTE: When a Proper, Material, Collective, or Abstract Noun becomes Common, it must W either take an article ("a", "an" or "the") before it, or (ii) be in the plural number.

4. An Abstract Noun becomes Proper when it is personified, that is, when it is spoken of as an individual person. It must then be written with a capital letter,. as, Proper Nouns are : He is a child of Fortune.

5. A Common Noun becomes Proper when it denotes a particular person or thing, as distinguished from the class : Let our Father (=God) bless us all. He was confined in the Tower (i.e. the Tower of London).

6.A Common Noun is sometimes used to express an abstract idea: Check the beast (=beastly passions) in you. The father (=fatherly affection) in him could not bear the sight. This is known as Concrete for Abstract.

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