Nouns Part 2
Proper v. Common
Proper nouns are the names of individual people, places, media, calendar times (not seasons), historical periods, religions, nationalities, brand names, organizations, etc.; they are always written with a capital letter: Africa, King, Saturday, Islam, Chinese, Apple, Manchester United,
Common nouns are written without a capital (except when starting a sentence).
These are idiomatic expressions, meaning they behave as a unit: ice cream, coffee shop.
Open compounds – there is a space between the words: middle class
Closed compounds – the space has been removed: football, courthouse
Hyphenated compounds – the space between the words has been filled with a hyphen: mother-in-law, well-being
The words of a compound noun can be understood separately, but they also have a new meaning when put together.
The trend is to close without a hyphen, but check your dictionary for the current way to write compound nouns.
If the compound is an adjective and a noun, then they are not hyphenated: middle class
If the compound is from a verb and a person who does a specific thing, then they are hyphenated: fire-walker.
If either word is a gerund (ending in –ing), then it is an open compound: diving school.
These nouns refer to groups of people, animals or objects: family, herd.
In North American English, these take a singular verb if the group is acting together, if not, then the collective noun takes a plural verb. Ex.: The family is playing cards. The family are playing games and watching television.
In United Kingdom English, these take a plural verb.