Abstract and Concrete Nouns in English Grammar

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 in English Grammar

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.

Concrete 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.

Abstract Nouns

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.

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