What is a noun?

  • A noun is the name of a thing, such as an object, a place, or a person.

  • Nouns are often described as naming words.

  • There are different types of nouns, such as: concrete, abstract, proper and collective.

See how a journalist uses nouns to write a story

Types of nouns

Common nouns

Common nouns refer to an object, person or place. Examples include, table, teacher, school.

Common nouns can be divided into concrete or abstract nouns:

  • Concrete nouns are physical things that you can see, touch, taste, hear or smell. In other words, they can be experienced through the five senses. Things like sweets, television, cardboard, sunshine, candle, piano.

  • Abstract nouns are things that don't have a physical form, but are still things. Abstract nouns might be concepts, ideas, or emotions: knowledge, intelligence, friendship, kindness, betrayal.

Proper nouns

Proper nouns name a specific object, person or place. They require a capital letter, because they give us the actual name of something or someone. Examples include: London, September, Wednesday, Joshua, Sarah.

Collective nouns

Collective nouns describe a group or collection of objects, people or places: A flock of birds, an anthology of poems, a cast of actors.

Noun phrases

A noun phrase is a group of words, often adjectives, based around a noun. 'Door' is just a noun, but 'bright red door' is a noun phrase. Other examples include: wide-spread flooding, violent storm.

Noun phrases can be useful in writing for building up extra detail or to determine the tone of a story.

Activity - nouns

Noun quiz

Test your knowledge with this quick quiz.

Where next?

Discover more about this topic from around Bitesize.

What is a verb?
What is an adjective?
Why does language change over time?