What Is a Concrete Noun? | Examples, Definition & Quiz

Nouns and Pronouns updated on  January 9, 2024 3 min read
Concrete nouns name people, places, and things that we can perceive with our five senses.

Not limited to solid or tangible objects that you could theoretically touch, concrete nouns can also name anything that can be heard (e.g., “symphony”), seen (e.g., “sunlight”), tasted (e.g., “sourness”), or felt without being touched (e.g., “heat”). Words such as “spaceship,” “Mariana Trench,” “amoeba,” and “Jeffrey” are all concrete nouns.

In contrast, abstract nouns describe mental constructs. These include feelings, frameworks, and concepts that cannot be directly perceived, such as “fascination,” “sleepiness,” “Pareto principle,” and “motif.”

Examples: Concrete nouns
Visitors to Loch Ness claim to have seen a monster.
My cat thinks my keyboard is a bed.
Pietr enjoyed the sun but also loved the rain.

Concrete nouns vs abstract nouns

Concrete and abstract nouns share the same grammatical functions, but they differ in terms of what they name.

  • Concrete nouns name people, places, or things but cannot refer to abstract ideas in a literal sense.
  • Abstract nouns name concepts, feelings, and qualities but don’t refer to people, places, or things.

Examples: Concrete nouns and abstract nouns
Florence worried about the upcoming trial.
Exposure to sunlight can improve mood.

Some words can function as abstract nouns or as concrete nouns depending on the context and whether they are being used in a literal or figurative sense.

Example: Nouns that can be concrete or abstract
The old trees cast pleasant shadows in autumn.
Anxiety about Monday’s test cast a shadow over his weekend.

Note
The categories of concrete and abstract nouns can be particularly useful in discussions of figurative language (e.g., metaphors and metonymy). In terms of grammar, however, concrete and abstract nouns play identical roles.

Concrete noun examples

Examples of concrete nouns can fall into several groups, including those in the table that follows. As the examples demonstrate, nouns are still typically considered concrete if they cannot be perceived by our senses directly (e.g., “molecule”) but have an aspect of physicality, even if only in the distant past (e.g., “Aristotle”) or in theory (e.g., “Shangri-la”).

Examples of concrete nouns

Objects and substances

swimming pool, cough syrup, Lamborghini, persimmon, raindrop, proton

Types of people

principal, podcaster, infant, mechanic, grandmother, pope, composer

Other life forms

orangutan, moss, coral, maple, hawk, iguana, hammerhead shark, H. pylori

Historic, fictional, or mythical figures

Admiral James T. Kirk, King George III, Eric Cartman, Zeus, Scout Finch, Ada Lovelace, Loki

Types of places

ocean, coffee shop, cliff, avenue, desert, rainforest, planet, post office

Specific places

Heathrow Airport, the Bronx, Brown University, Old Montreal, Angkor Wat, the Madrid Metro, the Great Barrier Reef, Ohio, the Library of Alexandria

Note
In addition to concrete vs. abstract, there are many other ways to categorize nouns, including many important grammatical distinctions. These include common nouns vs. proper nouns, singular nouns vs. plural nouns, and countable nouns vs. uncountable nouns, among others.

Concrete nouns quiz

Test your knowledge of concrete nouns using the quiz below. Select the correct answer for each question.
Do you want to know more about commas, parts of speech, email, or other language topics? Check out some of our other language articles full of examples and quizzes.


US vs UK

Rhetoric

Verbs

Honor or honour

Onomatopoeia

Participles

Practise or practice

Palindrome

Intransitive verbs

Color or colour

Anachronism

Simple past tense

Toward or towards

Portmanteau

Regular verbs

Behaviour or behavior

Paradox

Past progressive


Frequently asked questions about concrete nouns

How is a concrete noun different from an abstract noun?

Concrete nouns refer to people, places, or things that are physically observable to the senses. Examples include “Mrs. Robins,” “snowstorm,” “San Juan,” “moonlight,” and “book.”

Abstract nouns, in contrast, name constructs that can’t be observed with the senses, such as ideas, moods, and values. Examples include “nostalgia,” “weekday,” “peace,” “era,” and “academia.”

Is freedom a concrete or abstract noun?

“Freedom” is an abstract noun. It denotes a conceptual state beyond the reach of the five senses. Although we can observe tangible expressions of freedom, such as unrestricted movement, the concept exists in the mind and not in the physical realm.

Is talent a concrete or abstract noun?

“Talent” is an abstract noun, signifying a conceptual quality, not a physical object. It encompasses innate abilities or skills individuals possess, making it impossible to touch or perceive directly.

What are the different types of nouns?

Nouns can be categorized in a wide variety of ways, including the following:

  • Concrete nouns and abstract nouns
  • Common nouns and proper nouns
  • Countable nouns and uncountable nouns
  • Singular nouns and plural nouns
  • Gerunds
  • Appositive nouns
  • Generic nouns
  • Collective nouns
  • Attributive nouns
  • Possessive nouns

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Magedah Shabo

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