Concrete Nouns

What Is a Concrete Noun?

A concrete noun represents something that can be seen, touched, tasted, heard, or smelt. In other words, a concrete noun is something you can perceive with at least one of your senses.

Table of Contents

  • Easy Examples of Concrete Nouns
  • Find the Concrete Noun Test
  • More Examples of Concrete Nouns
  • The Difference between Concrete Nouns and Abstract Nouns
  • Different Types of Concrete Noun
  • Concrete Nouns Can Be Singular or Plural
  • Video Lesson
  • Test Time!

Easy Examples of Concrete Nouns

  • Jack, Jill, bed, wood, spear, pork, salt, groan
concrete noun definition

Find the Concrete Noun Test

It's your go! Select the concrete noun.

Can You Identify Concrete Nouns?

More Examples of Concrete Nouns

It's helpful to think of a concrete noun as the opposite of an abstract noun. (An abstract noun refers to something you cannot perceive with one of your five senses.)
Example of a Concrete Noun (tangible)Example of an Abstract Noun (intangible)

The Difference between Concrete Nouns and Abstract Nouns

If you cannot see, hear, taste, touch, or smell something, it is not a concrete noun. Concrete nouns contrast with abstract nouns, which name things you cannot see, hear, touch, smell, or taste. Take, for example, the abstract nouns "motherhood" and "cunning." You cannot perceive these with your senses. You can of course perceive "wood" and "chocolate" with your senses, and these are examples of concrete nouns.

It Can Get Complicated

Be aware that classifying a noun as concrete or abstract may depend on context or even the classifier's definition of perceivable.
  • My next work of art will require some hard work.
  • (No one would argue that the first "work" in this sentence is a concrete noun. However, the second "work" is more subjective. When it means "a task needing effort," "work" is generally classified as an abstract noun. However, some would argue that you can feel work and would classify it as concrete too.)
Some nouns will be abstract in one meaning but concrete in another. For example:
  • You may be able to fool the voters but not the atmosphere. (American environmental scientist Donella Meadows)
  • (When "atmosphere" refers to the envelope of gases surrounding the Earth, it's concrete.)
  • Moscow had an intense atmosphere of darkness and secrecy. (American author Alan Furst)
  • (When "atmosphere" refers to the pervading mood of a place, it's abstract.)

Different Types of Concrete Noun

"Concrete noun" is just one of the types of noun. It is common for a concrete noun to be classified as another type of noun as well. Depending on its meaning or structure, a concrete noun could also be classified as one of the following:

Concrete Nouns Can Be Singular or Plural

Most concrete nouns are countable nouns, which means they can be singular or plural. For example:
sodiumno plural
(concrete but non-countable noun)

Video Lesson

Here is a short video summarizing the difference between abstract nouns and concrete nouns: video lesson

Are you a visual learner? Do you prefer video to text? Here is a list of all our grammar videos.

Why Concrete Nouns Are Important

If you write verse (e.g., poetry, song lyrics), then here's an excellent tip related to concrete nouns.

(Great Tip!) Write poetry using concrete nouns not abstract ones.

Even though poets often tackle the concepts covered by abstract nouns (e.g., love, loneliness), they usually reach for concrete nouns to convey their thoughts, believing that abstract nouns and their derivatives (e.g., we were in love, she was lonely) tell their readers very little about their subjects. For poets, the challenge is often to capture these abstract feelings using concrete nouns.
  • It's not needed any more, the lead that hangs inside the door, and your bowl still scrapes the slated floor, when tapped by foot instead paw.
  • (Poets like to use concrete nouns to carry the emotion of an abstract noun, which is loss in this example.)
Remember that a noun is labelled as concrete or abstract based on its meaning not its grammatical function. In other words, concrete nouns and abstract nouns operate the same way grammatically.
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This page was written by Craig Shrives.