Abstract and Concrete Nouns

Abstract and Concrete Nouns

As mentioned, all nouns are either common or proper nouns. However, we can use two other terms to categorize nouns. Nouns can also be classified as concrete or abstract. A concrete noun is something you can easily experience using your senses. You can see your friend, you can stand on a hill, and you can hear an airplane.

Yet a noun doesn’t have to be just a person, place, or thing. It can also be something that resembles a quality, an idea, or an action. These nouns are more abstract in nature. Here are some examples:

Quality, Concept, Idea Action
difference celebration
juiciness counting
majority competition
absence bungee jumping
religion sewing
freedom water polo
happiness birth

The most confusing here are the action words. Aren’t they supposed to be verbs? The answer is that not every action is automatically a verb. For example, any word that looks like a verb and ends in –ing is a present participle, and present participles are not verbs (they’re called verbals). In fact, sometimes a verbal (e.g., sewing) can be a noun. It all depends on how the word is used in the sentence.

In the next section we will review some of the main uses of nouns. Context will tell you a lot about whether a word is a noun.