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You Need This Noun List:

Don’t Settle for Writing that Blends in When You Can Easily Stand Out

Perhaps it goes without saying, but your choice of words impacts your message as much as your research and thesis.

Words matter.

Did you notice anything about the two sentences above? They said the same thing, but in vastly different ways. Despite sharing the same message, they read and feel dramatically different.

No matter what you’re writing, you need to know your audience and write in the language and style that reaches them. In many fields, this goes beyond preference and into the realm of requirement, with style books determining both format and style.

Luckily, you don't have to navigate this alone. This list of nouns can help you choose the right words, and our library of academic resources is always available to help with formatting and citations in MLA format and many more styles.

How can a noun list help? This part of speech is used more often than any other; research into the most frequently used words returns a list of nouns across all disciplines of writing. Expanding your vocabulary in this one area will give you a deep well of words from which you can draw to meet the style of any audience.

Explore the nouns in each list for examples to use in everyday writing as well as synonyms for work that requires a more robust vocabulary. You’ll also find definitions, distinctions, and guidance to help you learn and understand each form.

Common Noun List

The distinction between common and proper is among the easiest to remember: the common form is not capitalized. It names, in general terms, a person, place, thing, or idea.

This list of common nouns is separated into two parts. On the left, you’ll find an example for everyday use. On the right of the common nouns list, however, you’ll see an alternative word, similar in meaning but higher in grade level—these are sometimes called SAT words or 25-cent words and offer more specificity while maintaining their status as common.

Everyday Words 25-cent Words
mountain summit
building edifice
ship schooner
house domicile
rain precipitation

Proper Nouns List

Particularity defines the difference between common and proper terms. While common words name something generally, their proper cousins do so explicitly and assign a proper name. Words in the proper form are capitalized.

There are instances where a word can be used as both common and proper. For example, the west end of the park is common, whereas the West End, referring to a specific part of London, is considered proper. When it gets tricky to determine whether or not to capitalize, our grammar and plagiarism checker could help you make the right call.

Your style guide may also require capitalization of words that are not otherwise considered proper. APA format, for example, capitalizes factor names in a factor analysis. Check out our free resources to help you format your next paper.

Specificity separates this list of nouns. On the left are the words from the common noun list. To their right are explicitly named, proper alternatives.

Common Proper
mountain Mount Everest
building Empire State Building
ship Titanic
house The White House
rain Hurricane Miranda

Concrete Nouns List

The common noun list above is made up entirely of words that can also fill in this concrete noun list. A concrete word is one that is tangible and perceivable by the senses. These words can also be further distinguished by whether they are countable or non-countable. This resource further explores the classes by their count and noncount (mass) forms, if you’re looking to find more info.

This list of concrete nouns is divided into count (on the left) and noncount/mass (on the right).

Count Mass
branch wood
desk furniture
burger meat
snowball snow
dollar money

Abstract Nouns List

Abstract words sit opposite of concrete. These words name concepts, beliefs, qualities, attributes, and ideas. Concrete words are tangible, while abstract words are without physical properties. Abstract terms are typically not countable, though they can be measured. For example, you cannot count wealth, though you can measure it with phrases such as a lot of or a lack of.

This list of abstract nouns shares its structure with the common nouns list above, with abstract words for everyday use found on the left. The right side of the abstract noun list offers a similarly defined 25-cent word.

Everyday Words 25-cent Words
poise aplomb
inactivity languor
failure inefficacy
courage valiance
belief credence

Collective Nouns List

Collective words are those that name a collection taken as a whole. These are commonly seen as terms of venery for animals, but are not limited to this use. This collective noun examples list is separated by person/animal, place, and thing/idea. As words appearing in this list of nouns are typically used as part of a phrase, complete phrases are included for clarity.

Person/Animal Place Thing/Idea
jury of peers chain of islands armada of ship
colony of bats suite of rooms deck of cards
army of frogs galaxy of stars thicket of trees
faculty of academics range of mountains glossary of words
slate of candidates union of states round of applause

Possessive Nouns List

When you need to show possession or belonging, these are the words you need. They demonstrate belonging by altering a base word. Several factors determine the rules for displaying ownership. To illustrate these differences, the list of possessive nouns below is separated into singular possessive and plural possessive, with examples provided in the context of a phrase.

Singular Possessive Plural Possessive
America's laws Americans' ideals
the baby's bib the four babies' bibs
the woman's coat the women's coats
Phyllis's dog the Smiths' dog
the clown's nose the clowns' noses

Compound Noun List

These are words made up of two or more words. They can be combined into one new word (closed form), joined by hyphens (hyphenated form), or joined together in meaning while appearing separately (open form). In this list of compound nouns, you’ll find them separated by these three categories.

Closed Form Hyphenated Form Open Form
toothpaste dry-cleaning swimming pool
fireflies check-up full moon
checkout mother-in-law washing machine
sunrise passer-by bus stop
hairstyle six-year-old middle class