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Common nouns

The opposite of a proper noun is a common noun. These are nouns that don’t represent specific people or things, but just people or things in general. For instance, if we were talking about a fire-fighter named Bob, we could say something like:

Common nouns

Because ‘Bob’ refers to a specific person, it is a proper noun and starts with a capital ‘B’. The noun ‘fire-fighter’, however is a common noun, because it represents people who fight fires - but not a specific person.

Common nouns can, however, be used as proper nouns. For instance, the noun ‘foundation’ is normally just a common noun. But if you use it in a sentence like this, it becomes a proper noun:

I like the Andre Agassi Charity Foundation.