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Student Information


English Grammar Rules about Proper Nouns

Proper nouns are the names of specific people, places or things (such as organisations.)  They differ from common nouns which are the general names for people, places and things, such as a boy, river and monument.  These common nouns become proper nouns when named.  For example, boy becomes Thomas, river becomes the Thames River and monument becomes the Washington Monument. 

  • Proper nouns are also sometimes called ‘proper names.’ 
  • The first letter of a proper noun is always capitalised.

Proper Nouns as People (and Animals)

Benjamin, for example is a proper name for a person.  (First, last and middle names are all considered proper nouns, and therefore always capitalised.)  Not only are people’s names capitalised, but so are pet names.  Lucky the goldfish, my dog named Rufus, and the neighbourhood cat named Pickles are all proper nouns and therefore are all capitalised. 

Proper Nouns as Places

London, for example, is the proper name for a major city in which Big Ben is located.  Names of countries are included such as the United Kingdom, as are districts like Barnet, and counties such as Hertfordshire.  A proper noun can even, in some cases, be a residence like Buckingham Palace, or a single room such as the Lincoln Room in the White House. 

Proper Nouns as Things

Big Ben, as mentioned earlier, is the proper name for the most famous clock tower in London.  What other things are considered proper nouns?  The names of organisations or trademarks such as Ford, Apple, MacDonald’s and Lego are proper nouns.  Rivers can be named, such as the Nile River or the Hudson River. 

Other Things that are proper nouns:

  • Historical Monuments
  • Dates
  • Awards
  • Vehicles
  • Brands

Reminder for Capitalising Proper Nouns

With proper nouns, the first letter of the proper noun is always capitalised and so is the first letter of the common noun immediately following it.  Examples of this are the Nile River, Middlesex County, and the Civil War.  An exception to this rule is when the proper noun is a name.  For example, in Michael’s truck, truck is not capitalised.