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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 always 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 list in each category 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 for each list of nouns.

Common Noun List

The first list of nouns highlights the distinction between common and proper nouns, which is among the easiest to remember: the common form is not capitalized, giving a big indication of which noun type you’re working with. A common noun list names, in general terms, a person, place, thing, or idea. This is why you’ll begin with a common nouns list and then move to a proper nouns list. You’ll start with a  list of common nouns that shows the sheer volume of common nouns; you’ll build your vocabulary with a higher-level, academic list of common nouns thereafter.

For that reason, this list of common nouns is separated into two parts. On the left, you’ll find a noun examples list 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 advanced words offer more specificity while maintaining their status as a common noun. A typical common noun list includes both types in one list, but the distinction of levels in this common noun list makes it easier to determine which list of nouns is more appropriate for your style of writing.


Everyday Words Advanced Words
mountain summit
building edifice
ship schooner
house domicile
rain precipitation
cat feline

Proper Nouns List

The second nouns list is for proper nouns. Particularity defines the difference between a common noun list and a proper list of nouns. While a nouns list with common nouns names something generally, their proper cousins are more specific and assign a proper name. Words in the proper form are capitalized.

There are instances where a word can be used in a nouns list that is 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  paper 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 same words from the common noun list above. To their right is a noun examples list of their equivalent in proper form.


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


Notice that all of the words on the right side of the noun examples list are capitalized since they are proper nouns.

Concrete Nouns List

The nouns list above is made up entirely of words that could also be on this concrete noun list. Concrete nouns are tangible things that are perceivable by the senses. The words on this list can also be further distinguished by whether they are a part of a list of nouns that are countable or a list of nouns that are 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). Notice that these concrete nouns differ from those words found in an abstract noun list by being countable as opposed to measurable like in an abstract nouns list.

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

Abstract Nouns List

Abstract words exist on the opposite end of the noun spectrum as concrete nouns. In this list of abstract nouns, these words name concepts, beliefs, qualities, attributes, and ideas. A concrete noun is tangible, while an abstract word (like those on this abstract noun list) 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 a generic abstract noun list for everyday use found on the left. The right side of the abstract noun list offers a similarly defined advanced word. An abstract nouns list highlights words that are often considered the “idea” part of the typical noun definition

Everyday Words Advanced Words
poise aplomb
inactivity languor
failure inefficacy
courage valiance
belief credence

Collective Nouns List

This next list of nouns is of collective words, meaning those that name a collection taken as a whole. This nouns list of collective nouns typically uses a list of common nouns in its creation. This collective noun list therefore contains many words from what you would consider a common nouns list. Collective nouns rarely include a list of abstract nouns, but often include a concrete nouns list. Below is a list of nouns separated by person/animal, place, and thing. As words appearing in a 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, you need a list of possessive nouns. This nouns list highlights a list of possessive nouns that 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 both a singular possessive noun list and a plural possessive noun list, 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


In this list of possessive nouns, it’s important to note where the apostrophe is in each example.

Compound Noun List

This list of nouns is for nouns made up of two or more words. This list of nouns is called compound. Compound nouns 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 compound noun list, you’ll find them separated by these three categories. Typically, a compound noun is made of words also found in a list of concrete nouns and not in an abstract nouns list.

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

Published March 5, 2019. Updated June 17, 2020.

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