For the background to my writing challenge, please read my first blog by clicking the following link – http://wp.me/p1x6Ui-4. If you would prefer to dive straight into note 21, then please read on…
Definitions of these two groups of nouns
A concrete noun is a person, place or thing and according John Seely in Oxford A-Z of Grammar & Punctuation it is also something you can experience using your five senses i.e. something you can touch, hear, see, taste or smell.
An abstract noun is none of the above; if you are able to experience something with one of the five senses it is not a abstract noun. John Seely suggests that it refers to ‘thoughts, ideas or imaginings’. Bernard C Lamb in his book The Queen’s English says that an abstract noun is intangible (nonmaterial i.e not able to be touched or seen) like ‘wickedness’ and ‘sleep’.
Here are some examples:
- Jack (a person)
- lemon (something you can see, smell and taste)
- music (something you can hear)
- curtains (something you can see and feel)
The words below do not have colour, taste, smell, sound and you can’t see them:
To be judged by the writer
Everything I have read about abstract nouns today suggest that the writer should be the judge of how many they they use in their piece of writing. John Seely displays a paragraph of text in his book and purposely makes half of it full of abstract nouns, which makes it very difficult to read.
My thoughts: I will be more aware of the the amount of abstract nouns I use from now on. I can’t say I’ve even thought about it before, so that makes me feel like a better writer already!
I’ve also seen some notes on ‘count nouns’ and ‘uncount nouns’ – I can feel a blog coming on about those soon.
Hope you are enjoying your weekend.
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Bernard C. Lamb The Queen’s English (2010), UK
John Seely The Oxford A-Z of Grammar & Punctuation, USA