Common Nouns in English

Common Nouns in EnglishEnglish common nouns classified next to names. How they interchange. Collective phrases with common nouns.


Semantic Noun Classification

  common proper
  countable uncountable uncountable
  things collectives materials / masses things collectives

– animate

– inanimate













the Jacksons

the Rockies

abstract color politics   the Great Depression the Middle Ages

Common nouns denote not particular objects, but any and every object of the same kind.

boy, table, butter, family, smell

Singularia Tantum

Some common nouns are only singular:

business, furniture, information, progress, strength, revenue, merchandise, property

Business, property, furniture, information can function in countable meanings.

Business is countable when meaning a commercial enterprise.

Property is countable when meaning a quality, characteristic or feature.

Furniture is countable with the determiner an article/piece of.

Information is countable with the determiner a piece/bit of.

Score and dozen determined by numerals or the indefinite article remain singular without the following of.

3 score years, 6 dozen eggs

scores of people

Pluralia Tantum

Some other common nouns are only plural:

wages, contents, oats, proceeds, riches, thanks, surroundings, savings

For pair plurals determined by numerals or the indefinite article we use pair of (no plural pairs here).

She bought 2 pair of glasses.

She has 8 pairs of shoes.

Collective Phrases

Some common nouns denote thing sets and human/animal groups.

an article of (clothing)

an assembly of (senators/churchmen)

a batch of (letters, samples, students)

a bevy of (experts, beautiful girls)

a board of (directors)

a bunch of (grapes/bananas, keys, flowers, people/friends)

a bundle of (banknotes, nerves, laundry)

a clump of (bushes/flowers)

a drove of (tourists/sightseers, citizens)

a flock of (birds/sheep)

a heap/pile of (books)

a heard of (cows)

a litter of (kittens/puppies)

a pack of (cards, lies, wolves)

a range of (mountains, products, subjects, possibilities)

a set of (teacups)

a shoal of (fish, people)

a swarm of (bees/insects)

a turf of (grass, hair)


Sometimes names get so famous that they create common derivatives. Inventors and founders often give their names to their products. Family names act as common nouns in outside reference for no one particular.

proper nouns common nouns
John Ford a Ford (brand car)
Charles Macintosh a macintosh (raincoat)
Uncle (within one’s family) an uncle