A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea. Easy, right?
Then why do so many people get nouns wrong!? Particularly — proper nouns.
Proper nouns are specific people, places, things, or ideas. I didn’t just go to a university, I went to the University of Pittsburgh. It seems like a simple distinction, but you’d be surprised at how many people either slip up, or just don’t know the difference. The main culprit? Family members, and not in the way that you may think.
Sure, everyone’s got some family member on Facebook who never seems to get her grammar right, but I’m talking about “names” of family members that tend to give people a hard time distinguishing between words that need capitalized and those that don’t. My aunt is a great lady, for instance, and we always hang around in the kitchen at holidays, manning the wine, stealing chicken nuggets, and wondering from what planet her daughters came from. However, “aunt” doesn’t get capitalized unless I’m specifically saying “Aunt Patti” — a goof that many seem to make.
Unless you’re saying “Uncle Dave” or “Aunt Carmen”, these titles don’t get capitalized, just like “biology” (the general topic) doesn’t get capitalized unless you’re actually talking about The Very Particular Class Named “Biology”. Give your proper nouns some special treatment.
A play on the misquoted phrase “for all intents and purposes”, Intensive Purposes tackles one grammar rule or English language tip — from proper punctuation to misused phrases — in an easy-to-understand mini-lesson.