Abstract and Concrete Nouns in English Grammar
Based on what we can or cannot perceive something with our five senses, we can categorize nouns into two groups: abstract and common nouns. Start learning!
Abstract and Concrete Nouns
You might already know that nouns were categorized into two groups: proper nouns and common nouns. In this lesson, we'll learn that common nouns can be further categorized into two groups: concrete nouns and abstract nouns.
A concrete noun is a noun that we can experience with our five senses. We can smell it, taste it, hear it, touch it or see it. Let's see some examples:
- Things we can see: a flower, a book, the sun, our house.
- Things we can touch: a hand, a fork, a car.
- Things we can hear: our voice, a honk, a siren, a note (like D flat).
- Things we can smell: perfume, odor, gas.
- Things we can taste: food, bread, sugar, honey.
An abstract noun is something we cannot perceive with our five senses. It can be an idea, a concept, a feeling, a quality. Let's see some examples:
- Feelings and emotions: sadness, happiness, depression, envy, fear.
- States:childhood, history, terrorism, politics.
- Qualities: beauty, generosity, honesty, trust.
- Concepts: faith, motivation, opportunity.
- Ideas: wisdom, friendship, knowledge.
- Events: birthday, death, past, holiday.
How to make Abstract Nouns from Concrete Ones?
In many cases, you can take a concrete noun and by adding a suffix to it, or by slightly changing the root of the word, make it an abstract one. You can see some of these suffixes below:
- -ness: happiness, sadness
- -hood: childhood, neighborhood
- -tion: depression, intention
- -ship: relationship, friendship
- -ability: likability, capability
Abstract or Concrete?
It is not always an easy job to decide whether a noun is an abstract one or concrete one. for example, the word 'job' or 'laughter'. Some may argue that 'job' is the collection of tasks that a person does and you can see someone working at a job, but you cannot actually see a job. Therefore it's an abstract noun. 'Laughter' is often cited as an abstract noun, but 'laughter' can be heard, which would make it a concrete noun.