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Proper nouns

Proper nouns

Level: beginner

Names of people, places and organisations are called proper nouns. We spell proper nouns with a capital letter:

Muhammad Ali Birmingham China Oxford University the United Nations

We use capital letters for festivals:

Christmas Deepavali Easter Ramadan Thanksgiving

We use capital letters for people's titles:

I was talking to Doctor Wilson recently.
Everything depends on President Obama.

When we give the names of books, films, plays and paintings, we use capital letters for the nouns, adjectives and verbs in the name:

I have been reading The Old Man and the Sea.
Beatrix Potter wrote
The Tale of Peter Rabbit.
You can see the
Mona Lisa in the Louvre.

Level: intermediate

Sometimes we use a person's name to refer to something they have created:

Recently a Van Gogh was sold for 15 million dollars.
We were listening to Mozart.
I'm reading an Agatha Christie.

Proper nouns



Hello Antonina M,

'Goya' is the name of a painter: 

A painting by an artist is referred to as 'a [name of the artist]', so a painting by Goya is called 'a Goya'. More than one are 'Goyas'.


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sir,
in last question, why i use Two in place of two.
thank you.

Hello yogesh mani tripathi,

'Two' is capitalised because it is part of a title, and in titles (of films, plays or, as here, books) most words are normally capitalised in English.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

I have been wondering if how can I improve the way to collocate words?. There are words that I think are okay when I talk,but really don't sound right for native english speakers to hear.

Hello nepo ayubas,

There are no rules as to which words collocate with one another; it is really quite arbitrary. That means that there are really only two things you can do. The first is to be exposed to as much natural English as possible. Read, listen to and watch as much in English as possible, and pay attention to any collocations you come across. Second, when you record vocabulary in your notebook make sure you record common collocation with each item, and add new collocations to them when you find them.

I hope those suggestions are helpful.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

hi all,

i would like to talk some about British council website that is what i feel really comfortable to use and learn English language , it is very simple examples and easily understand so that i am feeling happy to find out this web site .


Hello vishak mv,

Thanks very much for your kind comment. Enjoy the site, and please let us know if you have any questions.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Grammar books say that we shouldn't capitalize compass directions unless they refer to a specific region. However, this rule is not applied in the following sentence: "Earlier, the Ukrainian and Russian presidents said the ceasefire in eastern Ukraine was "largely holding". Why is " eastern" not capitalized in this sentence?

Best regards,

Hi zagrus,

As you say, these terms can be used in different ways. I can talk about 'the Eastern United States', which is a specific region recognised as such, or I can talk about 'the eastern United States', which simply uses 'eastern' as an adjective and is a general approximation rather than a specific term. The use here is probably similar, though I can offer no guarantees that other sources are not, for example, simply making mistakes with their capitalisation.

Best wishes,



The LearnEnglish Team

I have one doubt.
she is a 17nth PM of India. How can we ask this in a question form?
Thank you.