You most likely learned the difference between proper nouns and common nouns back in grade school, but did you know that there are other categories for nouns as well?

Let’s take a look at the difference between concrete and abstract nouns, two groups that are separated by the senses.

Concrete vs. Abstract Nouns

All nouns can be broken down into 2 categories: concrete nouns and abstract nouns.

As you may recall, a noun is any person, place, thing, or idea. But what do we mean by concrete and abstract nouns?

The answer comes down to how a noun can be perceived (or not) by the 5 senses.

What Is a Concrete Noun?

A concrete noun is any noun that can be perceived by one of the 5 senses (sight, sound. smell, touch, and taste).

For example: The noise from the party reached my bedroom and kept me awake all night.

Even though you can’t see or touch the noise, you can hear it, which makes it a concrete noun.

Examples of Concrete Nouns

To better understand what counts as a concrete noun, let’s look at a few examples.

  • Sugar (because you can taste it)
  • Music (because you can hear it)
  • Odor (because you can smell it)
  • Color (because you can see it)
  • Velvet (because you can touch it)

Now that we’ve clarified concrete nouns and their characteristics, let’s find out what might count as an abstract noun.

What Is an Abstract Noun?

Abstract nouns cannot be perceived by the five senses. In other words, you can’t see, hear, touch, smell, or taste these nouns.

Usually, abstract nouns fall under the “idea” category of nouns. For example, “wisdom” is a noun that cannot be identified by the senses. You might know when someone has it, but not because you can actually see it.

Many examples of abstract nouns are either qualities (like wisdom or stupidity) or ideas.

While you can work a job and do the same job every day, “job” is technically an abstract noun.

Examples of Abstract Nouns

Below are more examples that can help you to better understand abstract nouns.

  • Jobs
  • Illness
  • Bravery
  • Education
  • Health
  • Happiness
  • Dream
  • Ignorance

Nouns and Pronouns

For more on the different parts of speech, check out our posts on personal pronouns and prepositional phrases.

You can also learn more about modifiers and appositives and how they can add extra detail to your sentences.

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