I've moved "proper noun" to "see also" because I'm not sure whether or not it can really be considered an antonym to "common noun". A proper noun denotes a thing that is one of a kind and is capitalised, while a common noun denotes a thing that is one of many things of that kind, and has a lower-case initial. This suggests that they are antonyms. However, if a noun isn't proper, it doesn't mean it is common, nor vice versa; this suggests that they aren't necessarily. Views? — Paul G 15:47, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)
- Of course it does. Nouns which are not proper nouns are common nouns. In English, proper nouns are capitalized, not in all languages. Collective nouns, mass nouns, abstract nouns all involve different qualities than "properness". I don't even think the "one of a kind" part always holds. "Englishes" in the plural comes up in linguistics a lot and is still treated as a proper noun. I think "definiteness" is a better defining quality for proper nouns - they strongly resist being used with the definite article (in English).
- Can you give me any examples of nouns which are both proper and common, or ones which are neither proper nor common. (And I don't mean in different senses).
- Actually, I've been thinking a lot lately about how proper nouns work in other languages. — Hippietrail 16:40, 1 Jun 2004 (UTC)
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- Probably wrong according to grammar guides, but citable anyway. Mglovesfun (talk) 16:58, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
- I'm not so sure. People definitely seem to misuse proper noun to mean "capitalized noun", but looking through Google Books and Google Groups, I mostly only find correct uses of common noun. I do see some claims that common nouns aren't capitalized, but I don't see much evidence of people actually using common noun to mean "uncapitalized noun". —RuakhTALK 19:38, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
- Definition needs work even if it's okay, since such a "common noun" placed at the beginning of a sentence would be capitalised for another reason. Equinox ◑ 20:10, 30 April 2010 (UTC)
- Yes, I agree. Words like word and noun are ambiguous, in that they can refer either to tokens or to types. (I think I've got that terminology right.) For an example of their use in reference to tokens, consider a sentence like, "A single sentence can contain several nouns; this sentence, for example, contains five nouns"; here sentence and nouns each count as two nouns, because they appear twice. For an example of their use in reference to types, consider a sentence like, "I learned a new noun today: amelioration!"; here noun refers to the word amelioration in vacuo, not to any specific occurrence of it. Our definition presumably means "a noun [type] that writers don't capitalize", but it risks being understood as "a noun [token] that its writer didn't capitalize". —RuakhTALK 20:50, 30 April 2010 (UTC)