Concrete Noun | Definition, Examples & Worksheet

A concrete noun is a noun that refers to a physical thing, person, or place something or someone that can be perceived with the five senses (touch, hearing, sight, smell, and taste). Examples include ‘pencil’, ‘dog’, ‘Timbuktu’, and ‘Patricia’.

Concrete nouns are contrasted with abstract nouns, which are words such as ‘politeness’ describing concepts that you can’t perceive directly with the senses.

Examples: Concrete nouns
My house is made of brick and mortar.

A cat ran across the garden and climbed the fence.

Jan was supposed to be flying to Amsterdam, but he forgot his passport and didn’t realise until he got to the airport.

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Concrete nouns vs abstract nouns

Concrete nouns differ from abstract nouns in terms of the things they describe:

  • Concrete nouns refer to anything that can be perceived with the senses, including things, people, animals, and places.
  • Abstract nouns refer to anything that is not directly observable. These might be qualities, time designations and measurements, or philosophical ideas.
Examples: Concrete nouns and abstract nouns
My theory is that you left the keys in the apartment out of absentmindedness.

Terry experienced some anxiety about her reputation.

The same word may often be considered abstract in one sense and concrete in another. For example, consider words that have distinct literal and figurative meanings.

Example: Nouns that can be concrete or abstract
The Earth’s atmosphere is largely made up of nitrogen.

The atmosphere in the house is tense due to Mundheep’s insensitive comments.

Note
There’s no grammatical difference in the ways concrete and abstract nouns are used. The point is just to show the different kinds of things that nouns can refer to. The categories are quite subjective and are usually ignored by language authorities (e.g., dictionaries).

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Concrete noun examples

Concrete nouns only refer to things that can be perceived in some physical way, but that’s obviously a huge number of different things. The table below provides examples of concrete nouns referring to various different kinds of things.

It’s important to note that, as shown in the table, a noun is still generally regarded as concrete if it describes something physical that can’t be perceived with the senses alone (e.g., an atom that can only be perceived using a powerful microscope).

Examples of concrete nouns
Objects and substances smartphone, pencil, glasses, chair, window, skirt, rice, water, oxygen
Types of living beings (by species, profession, etc.) duck, human, oak, bacteria, dog, postal worker, president, schoolteacher, criminal, mathematician, foodie, vampire
Individual living beings (real, fictional, or mythical) Fido, Nathalie, Dr. Wilson, Grandma, Julius Caesar, Confucius, Emily Dickinson, Parvati, Lisa Simpson
Types of places house, river, street, field, mountain, forest, peninsula, galaxy, seabed
Specific places Vienna, Libya, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, Jupiter, Delhi, the Nile, the University of Amsterdam, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Himalayas
Note
Concrete nouns (and abstract nouns) can always be more technically classified as some other type of noun: plural or singular, common noun, proper noun, countable or uncountable, collective noun, etc.

Worksheet: Concrete vs. abstract nouns

Want to test your understanding of the difference between concrete and abstract nouns? Try the worksheet below. Just decide whether each highlighted noun is concrete or abstract.

  1. The dog seemed to enjoy its dinner.
  2. The price of adhering to one’s principles can be high.
  3. The name of my cat is Whiskers.
  4. The foundations of the house have begun to sink due to a lack of maintenance.
  5. My neighbour John has some questionable ideas about politics.
  1. The dog seemed to enjoy its dinner.
    • Both ‘dog’ and ‘dinner’ are concrete nouns, since they represent physical entities in the world.
  1. The price of adhering to one’s principles is sometimes high.
    • ‘Price’ and ‘principles‘ are both abstract nouns because you can’t touch or see a principle or a price (although you might see something representing a price, so a noun like ‘price tag’ would be considered concrete).
  1. The name of my cat is Whiskers.
    • The concept of a name is abstract. ‘Cat’ is a concrete noun because a cat is a physical being. ‘Whiskers’ is concrete whether you take it to mean the speaker’s cat or simply the word ‘Whiskers’ in its use as a name both of these can be perceived with the senses.
  1. The foundations of the house have begun to sink due to a lack of maintenance.
    • ‘Foundations’ and ‘house’ both represent specific physical things and are therefore concrete nouns. ‘Lack’ and ‘maintenance’ are both more conceptual and are therefore abstract.
  1. My neighbour John has some questionable ideas about politics.
    • Both the common noun ‘neighbour’ and the proper noun ‘John’ (here used as an appositive) are concrete nouns, since they refer to people. ‘Ideas’ and ‘politics’ are both abstract because they refer to concepts rather than physical things.

    Other interesting language articles

    If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, common mistakes, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

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    Frequently asked questions

    What are the different types of nouns?

    There are many ways to categorize nouns into various types, and the same noun can fall into multiple categories or even change types depending on context.

    Some of the main types of nouns are:

    What is a concrete noun?

    A concrete noun is a noun describing a physical entity that can be perceived with the senses. Concrete nouns may refer to things (e.g., “phone,” “hat”), places (e.g., “France,” “the post office”), or people and animals (e.g., “dog,” “doctor,” “Jamal”).

    Concrete nouns are contrasted with abstract nouns, which refer to things that can’t be directly perceived—ideas, theories, concepts, and so on. Examples include “happiness,” “condemnation,” “ethics,” and “time.”

    What is an abstract noun?

    An abstract noun is a noun describing something that can’t be directly perceived with the senses.

    Abstract nouns may refer to general or philosophical concepts (e.g., “art,” “democracy,” “evidence”), emotions and personal qualities (e.g., “happiness,” “impatience”), time measurements (e.g., “hours,” “January”), or states of being (e.g., “solidity,” “instability”).

    Abstract nouns are the opposite of concrete nouns, which refer to physical things that can be perceived with the senses: objects, substances, places, people and animals, and so on. For example, “window,” “Dorian,” and “sand.”

    Sources for this article

    We strongly encourage students to use sources in their work. You can cite our article (APA Style) or take a deep dive into the articles below.

    This Scribbr article

    Caulfield, J. (2023, April 18). Concrete Noun | Definition, Examples & Worksheet. Scribbr. Retrieved 18 June 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/nouns/concrete-nouns/

    Sources

    Aarts, B. (2011). Oxford modern English grammar. Oxford University Press.

    Butterfield, J. (Ed.). (2015). Fowler’s dictionary of modern English usage (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.

    Garner, B. A. (2016). Garner’s modern English usage (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.

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    Jack Caulfield

    Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes for Scribbr about his specialist topics: grammar, linguistics, citations, and plagiarism. In his spare time, he reads a lot of books.