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Getting Smarter through Language

Concrete and Abstract Nouns

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Concrete and Abstract Nouns

In another lesson, you saw that nouns are categorized as common and proper nouns. You can also categorize nouns as concrete and abstract. What is the difference?

  • Concrete nouns name objects in the real word; they are people or things that you can see, touch, smell, see, hear, or taste: teacher, dentist, apple, mountain, car, camera, book, sky, star, and so on. You can say that concrete nouns name people, places, and things that exist “in the real world.”
  • Abstract nouns name ideas, quality, or states: courage, love, education, opportunity, pain, stress, life, death, and so on. You cannot see, touch, smell, see, hear, or taste them in the sense that they exist as ideas or concepts, but they do not exist “in the real world.”

These definitions are not always very clear. For example, is “darkness” a concrete or abstract noun? Some people would say that it is a concrete noun because you can see the difference between light and darkness.

On the other hand, you could argue that “darkness” is a concept or idea to explain something you cannot really see. (Where you cannot see anything, you have the idea of darkness.)

Do not worry about this distinctions very much. This information is presented in this short lesson because you may hear people say something is a concrete noun or an abstract noun. Now you know what that means.

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