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proper nouns examplesProper nouns might sound fancy, but they’re really not that complicated to define or understand. As you might already know, a noun is a word used to describe a person, a place, or a thing. A proper noun is just a name given to a common noun to make it more specific.

If you’re still unsure what a noun is, or how it interacts with other words like verbs or adjectives, there are plenty of introductory English grammar courses like this one to help you study.

If you just need to know the definition of proper nouns, examples to help you understand, and an explanation of how they differ from common nouns, then read on!

Proper Nouns vs. Common Nouns

The definition of a proper noun relies on the understanding of common nouns. Common nouns are words that define certain types of people, places, things, and ideas. If you can see it, touch it, or feel it, there is most likely a common noun out there to describe it.

These are words like teacher, city, and happiness, which all fall into the categories person, place, or thing/idea. Common nouns are not capitalized unless they’re in a title, or the first word in a sentence.

Proper nouns differ from common nouns by being specific common nouns. If teacher is a common noun, then Ms. Wong or Mr. Baker are proper nouns. If city is a common noun, then Tokyo and San Francisco are proper nouns. These are the names given to specific common nouns, and because they are names, they need to be capitalized, always.

These are easy mistakes to make if you’re new to a language. Take a look at this overview of common grammar mistakes and how to avoid them for some additional help.

Proper Nouns Examples

To better explain proper nouns, examples have been listed below, along with related common nouns for contrast, and example sentences to illustrate proper usage. Proper nouns will appear in bold, with related common nouns appearing in italics.

Note how the capitalization works between proper and common nouns, with proper remaining capitalized and common remaining lowercase until it begins a sentence.

Consider taking an introductory to English course for more on the technical workings of the English language.

Toyota, Honda, Mercedescar

Coke, Pepsi, Mountain Dewsoda

Iron Chef, Lost, House of Cardsshow

Tokyo, Chicago, San Franciscocity

iPhone, Android, Blackberrysmartphone

Dell, Maccomputer

Anna, Joeperson

To Kill a Mockingbird, War and Peace, Animal Farmbook

Pacific Ocean, Atlantic Oceanocean

Pac-Man, Halo, Minecraftgame

Professor Lee, Professor Wong, Professor Smithprofessor

Mount Everest, Mount Fujimountain


United States, Japan, Norwaycountry

Gamecube, PlayStation 4, Xbox Onevideo game console

Corona, Blue Moon, Pabst Blue Ribbonbeer

Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Whole Foods Marketgrocery store

Doritos, Lays, Ruffleschips

Google, Comcast, Samsungcompany

Jack Russel, German Shepherd, Labrador Retrieverdog

Snickers, Twix, Kit Katcandy bar

Mississippi, Amazon, Nileriver

Learn more in this essential English grammar course. If you’re clear on the basics, consider taking an advanced English grammar course for a higher level approach.

Page Last Updated: February 2020

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