Concrete vs. Abstract Nouns – What’s the Difference?
  • 3-minute read
  • 21st April 2023

Concrete vs. Abstract Nouns – What’s the Difference?

As the old rule goes, a noun is “a person, place, or thing.” But did you know that nouns can be divided into two distinct categories? Those types are concrete nouns and abstract nouns.

What’s the difference, and are there any rules on how to use them? Read on to find out.

Concrete Nouns

Concrete nouns are what you probably think of first when you think of nouns. They are tangible objects, places, and things that you can experience with at least one of your five senses – that is, you can see them, touch them, smell them, taste them, or hear them.

Examples of Concrete Nouns

To give you a better sense of what concrete nouns are, here are some examples:








Concrete nouns also include some proper nouns, such as names of people, places, and brands. Lucy, Kansas, and Twitter are all concrete nouns.

Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns are intangible things. They don’t take a physical form; rather, they’re a concept or an idea. Abstract nouns include emotions, beliefs, and qualities. Although you can, in a way, sense an abstract noun, such as by experiencing anger, it isn’t something you can actually engage with using any of the five senses.

Examples of Concrete Nouns

We use abstract nouns all the time. Here’s a list of just a few:








Concrete nouns can also include some proper nouns, such as names of religions or events in history (e.g., Buddhism, Renaissance).

Rules for Using Abstract and Concrete Nouns

Fortunately, although there is a difference between the two types of words, there are no separate rules for using concrete and abstract nouns. There are a few basic rules for using nouns in general, though:

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·  For all nouns, you need to follow subject–verb agreement (i.e., using the plural form of a verb for plural nouns and the singular form for singular nouns).

·  You should usually capitalize proper nouns (with exceptions, such as eBay).

·  For nouns beginning with consonant sounds, use the article “a,” while for nouns beginning with a vowel sound, you need the article “an.”

Summary: Concrete vs. Abstract Nouns

If you’re uncertain whether a word is a concrete or abstract noun, ask yourself if it can be experienced with any of the five senses on a physical level. For example, the only way we may “see” or “feel” freedom is by noticing its consequences; therefore, it’s an abstract noun.

If you need help with your use of nouns – or just words in general – our expert editors are here to help. They’ll check your work for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and more. Submit a free sample of your work to try it out!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are concrete nouns?

Concrete nouns are tangible people, places, and things: Grandma, school, pizza.

What are abstract nouns?

Abstract nouns are intangible things, such as concepts and ideas: sadness, peace, feminism.

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