Concrete Noun

A concrete noun is simply a person, place or thing that is experienced through one or more of your five senses. Take a look around you and you'll see that most nouns are examples of concrete nouns.

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How to Identify a Concrete Noun

You can tell if something is a concrete noun because you experience it through one of your five senses: sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch. If you cannot see, hear, taste, touch, or smell it, it’s not a concrete noun. Think of a concrete noun as being set in stone.

Concrete Noun vs. Abstract Noun

If a noun is not concrete, then it's an abstract noun. Abstract nouns refer to ideas and concepts that cannot be sensed on a physical level, but are sensed on a mental or emotional level. Understanding the difference between them will help you describe and explain them appropriately in your writing. Think of an abstract noun like abstract art, it’s not easy to identify and may mean something different to each person.

The two often work hand in hand, with concrete nouns supporting abstract nouns. For example, happiness is an abstract noun that can't be seen. You may see signs that tell you a person is experiencing happiness, but happiness is something you feel internally. The smile that expresses happiness can be seen with your eyes, so it is concrete. Concrete and abstract nouns are both real, but one is a physical presence and the other is not.

Other Types of Nouns

Before you look at some examples of concrete nouns, review some of the different types of nouns. Any of these types of nouns can also be concrete nouns.

  • proper noun - capitalized and refers to a specific, named person, place or thing; for example: Jane, New York, the Bible
  • common noun - not capitalized and refers to general people, places and objects; for example: woman, city, book
  • collective noun - used for a group of objects that are a collection or unit, because there can be more than one unit, they may appear as singular or plural; for example: one family, two families
  • countable noun - functions with or without a number in front of it for example: one car, two dogs, a million pieces
  • uncountable noun - sometimes referred to as mass nouns because they have mass but cannot be counted; for example: luggage, happiness, money

Examples of Concrete Nouns

To better understand concrete nouns, take a look at the examples below. They are sorted by the sense you use to experience them.

Sight:

  • air (uncountable)
  • cat (singular)
  • dog (common)
  • suitcases (countable)
  • Susan (proper)
  • team (collective)
  • women (plural)

Hearing:

  • chirps (plural)
  • choir (collective)
  • music (uncountable)
  • noise (singular)
  • sounds (countable)
  • Twinkle Twinkle Little Star (proper)
  • whistling (common)

Taste:

  • bile (singular)
  • cakes (plural)
  • entree (collective)
  • medicine (uncountable)
  • peas (countable)
  • Reese's Pieces (proper)
  • steak (common)

Smell:

  • aromas (plural)
  • flower (common)
  • Heinz Ketchup (proper)
  • herd (collective)
  • horse (singular)
  • perfume (countable)
  • seaspray (uncountable)

Touch:

  • baggage (uncountable)
  • chair (singular)
  • Merino wool (proper)
  • pennies (countable)
  • puppies (plural)
  • skin (common)
  • troupe (collective)
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Examples of Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns are the opposite of concrete nouns. They refer to emotions, ideas, concepts, beliefs, or your state of being.

Examples of abstract nouns include:

  • acceptance
  • anticipation
  • democracy
  • injustice
  • love
  • maturity
  • progress

Concrete and Abstract Noun Practice

Practice identifying concrete nouns and abstract nouns with a quick noun quiz to ensure you understand the topic. Can you tell which of the nouns below are concrete and which are abstract?

1. cobbler

2. sadness

3. liberty

4. butter

5. intelligence

Concrete and Abstract Noun Practice Answers

  1. Concrete - You can see, smell, touch and taste a cobbler.
  2. Abstract - Sadness is an emotion. You can usually tell when someone is sad by looking at them, but it’s because you’re seeing tears or a frown.
  3. Abstract - Liberty is an idea or concept. You can’t identify it with our senses alone.
  4. Concrete - You can touch, taste, see and smell butter.
  5. Abstract - Intelligence is a concept. You can’t identify it with your senses alone.

Solidify Your Concrete Noun Knowledge

Understanding concrete nouns is simple when you know what to look for. Continue learning about the different types of nouns with fun noun games.