English Grammar – Nouns
“In the more simple state of the Arabs, the nation is free, because each of her sons disdains a base submission to the will of a master.” – Gibbon
By examining this sentence we notice several words used as names. The plainest name is Arabs, which belongs to a people; but, besides this one, the words sons and master name objects, and may belong to any of those objects. The words state, submission, and will are evidently names of a different kind, as they stand for ideas, not objects; and the word nation stands for a whole group.
When the meaning of each of these words has once been understood, the word naming it will always call up the thing or idea itself. Such words are called nouns.
A noun is a name word, representing directly to the mind an object, substance, or idea.
A proper noun is a name applied to a particular object, whether person, place, or thing.
It specializes or limits the thing to which it is applied, reducing it to a narrow application. Thus, city is a word applied to any one of its kind; but Chicago names one city, and fixes the attention upon that particular city. King may be applied to any ruler of a kingdom, but Alfred the Great is the name of one king only.
The word proper is from a Latin word meaning limited, belonging to one. This does not imply, however, that a proper name can be applied to only one object, but that each time such a name is applied it is fixed or proper to that object. Even if there are several Bostons or Manchesters, the name of each is an individual or proper name.
A common noun is a name possessed by any one of a class of persons, animals, or things.
Common, as here used, is from a Latin word which means general, possessed by all.
For instance, road is a word that names any highway outside of cities; wagon is a term that names any vehicle of a certain kind used for hauling: the words are of the widest application. We may say, the man here, or the man in front of you, but the word man is here hedged in by other words or word groups: the name itself is of general application.
Besides considering persons, animals, and things separately, we may think of them in groups, and appropriate names to the groups.
Thus, men in groups may be called a crowd, or a mob, a committee, or a council, or a congress, etc.
These are called COLLECTIVE NOUNS. They properly belong under common nouns, because each group is considered as a unit, and the name applied to it belongs to any group of its class.
Further reading: https://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/english-grammar/nouns