What Is a Concrete Noun? (with Examples)

Concrete Noun

A concrete noun represents something that can be seen, touched, tasted, heard, or smelt. In other words, a concrete noun is something you can perceive with at least one of your senses.

Easy Examples of Concrete Nouns

  • Jack
  • Jill
  • bed
  • wood
  • spear
  • pork
  • salt
  • groan

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More Examples of Concrete Nouns

It's helpful to think of a concrete noun as the opposite of an abstract noun. (An abstract noun refers to something you cannot perceive with one of your five senses.)
Example of a Concrete Noun (tangible)Example of an Abstract Noun (intangible)
medalbravery
sweatdetermination
giftgenerosity
bookknowledge
judgejustice
coinwealth

The Difference between Concrete Nouns and Abstract Nouns

If you cannot see, hear, taste, touch, or smell something, it is not a concrete noun. Concrete nouns contrast with abstract nouns, which name things you cannot see, hear, touch, smell, or taste. Take, for example, the abstract nouns motherhood and cunning. You cannot perceive these with your senses. You can of course perceive wood and chocolate with your senses, and these are examples of concrete nouns.

It Can Get Complicated

Be aware that classifying a noun as concrete or abstract may depend on context or even the classifier's definition of perceivable.
  • My next work of art will require some hard work.
  • (No one would argue that the first work in this sentence is a concrete noun. However, the second work is more subjective. When it means "a task needing effort," work is generally classified as an abstract noun. However, some would argue that you can feel work and would classify it as concrete too.)
Some nouns will be abstract in one meaning but concrete in another. For example:
  • You may be able to fool the voters but not the atmosphere. (American environmental scientist Donella Meadows)
  • (When atmosphere refers to the envelope of gases surrounding the Earth, it's concrete.)
  • Moscow had an intense atmosphere of darkness and secrecy. (American author Alan Furst)
  • (When atmosphere refers to the pervading mood of a place, it's abstract.)

Different Types of Concrete Noun

Concrete nouns can be:

Concrete Nouns Can Be Singular or Plural

Most concrete nouns are countable nouns, which means they can be singular or plural. For example:

SingularPlural
dogdogs
manmen
moonmoons
MartianMartians
deskdesks
eagleeagles
sodiumno plural
(concrete but non-countable noun)

A Video Summary

Here is a short video summarizing the difference between abstract nouns and concrete nouns:

A Dynamic Test on Concrete Nouns

This page contains two tests on concrete nouns. Here is a more dynamic test.

Why Should I Care about Concrete Nouns?

If you write verse (e.g., poetry, song lyrics), then here's an excellent tip related to concrete nouns.

(Great Tip!) Write poetry using concrete nouns not abstract ones.

Even though poets often tackle the concepts covered by abstract nouns (e.g., love, loneliness), they usually reach for concrete nouns to convey their thoughts, believing that abstract nouns and their derivatives (e.g., we were in love, she was lonely) tell their readers very little about their subjects. For poets, the challenge is often to capture these abstract feelings using concrete nouns.
  • It's not needed anymore, the lead that hangs inside the door, and your bowl still scrapes the slated floor, when tapped by foot instead paw.
  • (Poets like to use concrete nouns to carry the emotion of an abstract noun, which is loss in this example.)
Remember that a noun is labelled as concrete or abstract based on its meaning not its grammatical function. In other words, concrete nouns and abstract nouns operate the same way grammatically.

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See Also

What are nouns? The different types of nouns What are pronouns? The different types of pronouns Abstract nouns Collective nouns Compound nouns Non-countable nouns (mass nouns) Gender-specific nouns Verbal nouns Gerunds Noun clauses Noun phrases Amount, quantity and number