Unit 1.1

Common and Proper Nouns

Contributors

Introduction

Nouns [sustantivos] are words used to name people, things, and animals that have gender and number.

Common nouns [nombres comunes] are nouns used to name people, animals, places, or things generally.

Proper nouns [nombres propios] are nouns used to name people or animals (anthroponyms) and places (toponyms) in a unique and specific way.

Form

Common nouns and proper nouns include different categories of words.

Common nouns

A subgroup of common nouns is eventive nouns, which denote events or processes: accidente, batalla, concierto, crisis

Proper nouns

Other categories into which proper nouns are classified are:

  1. toponyms with an article (La Coruña, La Rioja, El Salvador);
  2. institution names (Instituto Cervantes, Universidad Complutense);
  3. names of positions and departments (Director, Centro de idiomas);
  4. names of subjects or disciplines (Matemáticas, Medicina);
  5. names of time periods (Nochevieja, Pascua).

Example

Common nouns:

    • Esta tarde ha habido un accidente en la plaza;
    • Unos actores han representado la batalla hace un momento;
    • Esta noche hay un concierto de rock;
    • La crisis actual es del todo increíble.

Proper nouns:

    1. No hay nada más divino que La Rioja y sus vinos;
    2. El Instituto Cervantes sabe más de gramática que nadie;
    3. En el Centro de idiomas están seguros de que aprobaremos;
    4. La profesora de Matemáticas nos enseñó a multiplicar esta mañana;
    5. En Nochevieja se sale de fiesta durante toda la noche.

Use

Common nouns are used to:

  • refer to ordinary or general people, animals, places, or things;
  • identify anything that is of the same species or characteristics.

Proper nouns are used to name, in a unique and unrepeatable way:

  • Animals, surnames, streets, cities and towns, continents, things with a singular name, events, countries, people, and villages.

Summary

Common nouns are nouns used to name people, things without identifying them in particular, but anything that is of the sme specifes or characteristics. In Spanish, a subgroup of common nouns are eventive nouns.

Proper names are nouns used to name people, animals, places, things with a singular name in a unique and unrepeatable way. In Spanish, some proper nouns are toponyms with articles, names of institutions, positions and departments, subjects or disciplines and time periods.

For example:
— «La hermana / El perro / Un barco» = Common names for people, things without identifying them in particular, but to anything that is of the same species or characteristics;
— «Jorge / Madrid / Titanic» = Proper names for people, animals, places, things with a singular name, unique and unrepeatable.

Check the contents of the {Form} section. Then move on to the {Example} section, which shows you the usage in context.

 

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