Concrete Nouns vs. Abstract Nouns

All nouns fall into one of two categories: concrete nouns and abstract nouns.

What Is a Concrete Noun?

A concrete noun is a noun that can be identified through one of the five senses (taste, touch, sight, hearing, or smell). Consider the examples below:

Would someone please answer the phone?

In the sentence above, the noun phone is a concrete noun: you can touch it, see it, hear it, and maybe even smell it or taste it.

What is that noise?

Even though noise can’t be touched—and the noise may even be coming from several places—you can hear the noise, so it’s a concrete noun.

After his retirement, Mr. Bond pursued his dream of photographing rainbows.

Rainbows is a concrete noun: they can be seen. Mr. Bond is also a concrete noun, but dream and retirement are not. These nouns are considered abstract nouns. We’ll discuss abstract nouns in more detail below.

What Is an Abstract Noun?

An abstract noun is a noun that cannot be perceived using one of the five senses (i.e., taste, touch, sight, hearing, smelling). Look at the examples below:

We can’t imagine the courage it took to do that.

Courage is an abstract noun because it cannot be seen, heard, tasted, touched, or smelled.

Below are two more examples of abstract nouns in context.

Early paleontologists assumed that the small brains of some dinosaurs indicated stupidity of the species.
Higher education is strongly recommended.

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