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

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Petals 提交于 周日, 27/11/2016 - 15:57

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Hello, Is it correct to write Art or art ? I've seen the former being used in essays that just describe Art. Regards, Petals

Hello Petals,

'Art' is a noun like any other and is capitalised in the same way other nouns are. There are no special rules concerning the word. Of course, an author may choose to capitalise certain words for effect, but this is an individual stylistic choice, not standard usage.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks, so could it mean that the author capitalises it to indicate the particular meaning of art that he has in mind ?

Hello Petals,

Yes, that could be. If you want to post the sentence in context here and suggest why you think it is capitalised, we can tell you if we think you're analysing it correctly.

All the best,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I have two questions about the people's names used to refer to something they have created. 1) Can we do this in plural? Such as: "I've read many Shakespeares and enjoyed all of them" 2) "We were listening to Mozart." Why this sentence doesn't have an indefinite article? That is: We were listening to a Mozart." Or, if we were listening to more compositions of this author, why not to say: "We were listening to some Mozarts." ?

Mistycrystaleyes 提交于 周四, 28/07/2016 - 21:35

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Hi, I was wondering about the names of the seasons. When do we use capitals and when not to? Regards.

Peter M. 提交于 周五, 29/07/2016 - 06:49

Mistycrystaleyes 回复

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Hi Mistycrystaleyes,

You can find the rules for capitalisation on this page.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, My question is upon the differentiation between proper and common nouns. 1) Trademarks. "Kleenex" is a trademark. In "Pass me a Kleenex" is Kleenex a proper noun? Is capitalization correct? 2) Archetypal names. "He was a complete Don Juan with all his affairs". Is Don Juan still a proper noun? 3)"The Red-White-and-Blue Union Jack hung out of every window." Is the banner a common noun here? Any help much appreciated.

Peter M. 提交于 周五, 05/02/2016 - 07:21

Ildus 回复

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Hello Ildus,

The names of products often move to general use in English and when they do they cease to refer only to a particular product and are no longer capitalised. Thus, if in your first sentence you are referring simply to a tissue, then there is no need to capitalise.

In your second example we would capitalise. Although the name is used as an adjective here the convention is still to capitalise names of people.

In your third example only 'Union Jack' should be capitalised. The colours are not part of the name and so are simply normal adjectives.

 

Best wishes,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Antonina M 提交于 周日, 27/12/2015 - 02:53

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Could anyone tell me, what does "Goyas" mean? The word is taken from the exercise above. Thank you.

Hello Antonina M,

'Goya' is the name of a painter: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Goya 

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,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

ritesh46 提交于 周四, 13/08/2015 - 21:59

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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,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

nepo ayubas 提交于 周三, 27/05/2015 - 09:56

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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,

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

vishak mv 提交于 周日, 26/10/2014 - 06:02

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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 . thanks

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,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, 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, Abdullah

Peter M. 提交于 周日, 07/09/2014 - 13:34

zagrus 回复

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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,

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

ramyamugesh 提交于 周六, 06/09/2014 - 08:09

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

AdamJK 提交于 周六, 06/09/2014 - 23:51

ramyamugesh 回复

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Hi, It's not really possible to make a question without knowing what answer you expect. For example, would the answer to the question be 'the 17th' or 'India' or something else? Best wishes, Adam The LearnEnglish Team
I think doctor is a common noun but Doctor is a title and is always follow by a proper noun. For example: Is here any doctor to have a look on my daughter? I'm with Doctor Kelly yet. We're going to start the surgery. So I think it's the same for an engineer and Engineer Robson. Besides engineering is the same as mathematics, I think it's just a subject as well and do not need to be spell with capital letter.

yasmeenahmed87 提交于 周二, 05/08/2014 - 15:15

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I didn't understand why engineering isn't written with capital letters. It is a noun which names specific subject so it is a proper noun, isn't it? Please explain and help? Thanks for awesome explanation btw:)

Hi yasmeenahmed87,

Academic subjects such as engineering are not capitalised unless they are part of the title of a book, course or other proper noun. As far as I'm aware, the only exception to this rule about not capitalising academic subjects is in the case of languages, since the names of languages are always capitalised.

So you can say, for example, that you study engineering and French using textbooks called Basic Engineering and Elementary French in Engineering 101 and French 101 courses at university.

By the way, if you're curious about this topic, you can find lots of useful pages on the internet by searching for 'capitalisation rules'.

Best wishes,
Kirk
The LearnEnglish Team

I think, as well as in Doctor, if they were saying Engineer Robinson, they would have use a capital letter because it's a title to be an engineer. So there is a little difference between the noun and the title which must be in capital letter. For futhermore examples: I need to see the doctor / I need to see Doctor Roberts. I'm looking for an architect to design my new home / I'm lookink for Architect Williams, where is his office? Do you see what I mean? That's what I think!!! Sincerly!
Hi ClaraFilip, Thanks for your kind words. To answer your question, the word "two" is a quantifier, and is therefore written with a capital letter as well. In general, the words that are not written in capital letters in book titles are "little" words such as articles (the, a), conjunctions (and, but, etc.) and prepositions (of, from, etc.). Please let us know if you have any other questions. Best wishes, Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Advocaat 提交于 周一, 22/04/2013 - 13:00

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It was a very useful tip!

maija1963 提交于 周三, 08/08/2012 - 19:39

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Regarding the second question in the test 'She studied engineering at Imperial College' - please can you explain why 'engineering' is not a Proper Noun in this context?  Are academic/specific subjects like history and engineering always common nouns?  Thank you for your help!

 

don mbaga 提交于 周五, 01/06/2012 - 01:25

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But in spite of that problem you guys are great instead of using much time on facebook now we use time useful for the exprolation of new things !!!! You are so super

don mbaga 提交于 周五, 01/06/2012 - 01:19

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The problem is that when you press the exercise brings nothing just a white page with no exercises