Concrete Nouns: What Are Concrete Nouns? Definition and Examples

By Carly Forsaith, updated on August 11, 2023

Would you like to learn about concrete nouns? Then you're in the right place. This article will cover everything you need to know about them and how to use them in your writing.

In short:

  • Concrete nouns refer to tangible things you can touch, hear, feel, see, or taste.

This guide is part of our free online Grammar Book.

What Are Nouns?

I guess we should start with a quick grammar review. What is a noun, exactly? In short, a noun is a naming word, clause, or phrase that you can use to refer to a person, place, or thing. There are different types of nouns, including concrete vs abstract nouns.

All nouns can be split into the categories 'concrete' and 'abstract,' regardless of all the other types. Some nouns can even be both, as we'll see later on.

It's important to know that whether a noun is concrete or not makes no difference to its grammar or the way you use the noun. In fact, many grammarians and language authorities don't even consider these categories; they're just used as a way to denote the fact you can use nouns to refer to different things.

Here are the other types of nouns:

Take a look at the examples next to each category. First, a concrete noun example, then an abstract noun example. I did this to show you that any type of noun can be concrete or abstract.

Furthermore, concrete and abstract nouns can both be either singular or plural, with the exception of non-countable nouns.

What Are Concrete Nouns?

A concrete noun refers to a physical thing you can perceive with one of your five senses. This means you can either see, hear, feel, touch, or taste it. As you can imagine, this means a lot of things are classed as concrete nouns.

Here are just a few examples of concrete noun categories:

  • living beings
    cow, palm tree, girl
  • places
    beach, New York, cinema
  • objects
    computer, T-shirt, pencil 
  • people
    woman, mom, the pope
  • liquids, substances, and weather phenomenons
    water, oxygen, wind
  • imaginary or non-real things
    elves, Jon Snow, monsters
  • microscopic things
    bacteria, atoms, viruses

Here are some example sentences that use concrete nouns (underlined).

I've bought a beautiful house in the countryside.

That oak tree has been there for decades.

Here's a chair for you to sit on.

They fired a cannon into the city.

I'm the band's main singer and my sister plays the bass.

Can Nouns Be Both?

We've cleared up the difference between concrete and abstract now, and by this point, you should be able to tell the difference between the two. But wait a minute, what about if a noun is both concrete and abstract? Then what happens? Is that even possible?

The answer is yes, that's possible. There are two reasons for that.

The first is that for some nouns, there is disagreement over whether they're concrete or abstract. Take the word 'laughter,' for example. Some argue that it's an abstract noun because it's not a physical thing, while others say that since you can hear laughter, and hearing is one of the five senses, then it's a concrete noun.

The second instance in which some nouns can be both concrete and abstract is when they change meaning based on the context.

Wow, it's a work of art!

Your work is valuable to the world.

In the first sentence, we are referring to a specific piece, probably a painting, a piece of music, or maybe a book. It's a countable, concrete noun. In the second sentence, we are talking about someone's work in general, not a particular piece. In that context, it's an abstract noun.

Concluding Thoughts

That brings us to the conclusion of this article on concrete nouns. I hope you found it helpful.

Let's summarize what we've learned:

  • Concrete nouns are for physical things you can perceive with one of your five senses.
  • Some nouns can alternate between a concrete meaning and an abstract meaning based on the context.
  • All nouns are either concrete or abstract.

Have you seen our Grammar Book? If you enjoyed this article, you might like our free online database of grammar articles. Check it out!

We encourage you to share this article on Twitter and Facebook. Just click those two links - you'll see why.

It's important to share the news to spread the truth. Most people won't.

Written By:
Carly Forsaith
Carly Forsaith is one of the lead freelance writers for Carly is a copywriter who has been writing about the English language for over 3 years. Before that, she was a teacher in Thailand, helping people learn English as a second language. She is a total grammar nerd and spends her time spotting language errors on signs and on the internet.

Add new comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Newsletter
Receive information on
new articles posted, important topics, and tips.
Join Now
We won't send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.