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Noun, Word comparisons

Note 21 – Concrete and abstract nouns

For the background to my writing challenge, please read my first blog by clicking the following link –  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:

Concrete nouns

  • Jack (a person)
  • lemon (something you can see, smell and taste)
  • music (something you can hear)
  • curtains (something you can see and feel)

Abstract nouns

The words below do not have colour, taste, smell, sound and you can’t see them:

  • sadness
  • qualification
  • musical
  • forgetfulness  

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.

Until tomorrow…



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Twitter: @madeirasandra  and  @tipsandluxuries

Reference list

Bernard C. Lamb The Queen’s English (2010), UK

John Seely  The Oxford A-Z of Grammar & Punctuation, USA


About Sandra Madeira

I am a full-time working mum with a passion for writing and inspiring others. Subjects I tend to blog about are life skills, parenting, decluttering, worklife balance, etc. At the moment I am on a decluttering mission creating space in my house, garden and mind. I have challenged myself to do at least ten minutes a day and write about it. Have a good day! Sandra Freelance Writer


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