Proper vs common nouns

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    Proper vs common nouns

    The division of nouns into proper and common is based on the type of nomination.

    Proper nouns are special names given to human beings or things to single out and individualize them by means of capitalization. In accordance with the object of nomination proper nouns may be personal names (Mary, John, Dickens), geographical names (Moscow, the Thames, the Alps), the names of the months and of the days of the week (January, Sunday), names of hotels, ships, etc. (the Ritz, the Titanic).

    Common nouns are the names which may refer to any person or thing (man, woman, doctor, bird, dog), a group of similar individuals or things (family, government, machinery, foliage), materials (cotton, iron, rubber), abst­ract notions (kindness, strenght, friendship, love).

    Proper nouns may turn into common nouns. For example, such words as champagne (a sort of white wine), ulster, mackintosh (special types of a coat), Wellington (boots) trace back to and correlate with the existing proper names denoting either the places of origin (Cham­pagne, Ulster) or the inventor (Wellington, Mackintosh).

    At the same time most of surnames like Mason, Smith, Bush originated from common nouns as well as some place names like the City (an area in central London which is the British centre for money matters) or the Globe (the theatre in London where Shakespeare’s plays were first performed).

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