Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

October 6, 2009

Everything you should know about concrete and abstract nouns

This is the second post in a series on nouns, their types and things to watch out for when using them.

Concrete and Abstract nouns.

This category of noun poses few problems. Concrete nouns describe something that is visible or can be touched. Abstract nouns describe concepts, qualities, ideas etc..

Concrete nouns:

Most are common nouns and take both singular and plural forms. These are usually countable.

Nouns such as furniture, money or luggage describe a group of objects and are uncountable

  • Can you get the luggage out of the car please?
  • There is too much furniture in this room!
  • I haven’t any money in my purse!

One other group behaves differently and those are nouns describing substances – water, cheese, wine – these are uncoutable unless they are ‘defined’

  • Plants need water to grow.
  • Could I just have a mineral water please?
  • There are many flavoured waters available in the shops.

 

  • Most European countries produce cheese.
  • We found a wonderful Italian cheese at the supermarket last week.
  • There are so many French cheeses to choose from!

 

  • I’ve never really enjoyed wine.
  • My father-in-law gave us a very fruity Australian wine.
  • You can buy wines from all over the world in most supermarkets nowadays.

Abstract nouns:

Abstract nouns are usually uncountable but can sometimes have countable qualities. This occurs when the reference to the noun is specific.

  • I was overwhelmed by her kindness.
  • It was those little kindnesses that my mother performed that made her loved by everyone.

 

  • Education is a subject much in the news.
  • They wanted the best education. for their children.

 

  • Prison is not always the answer when someone commits a crime.
  • He spent several years teaching a prison before joining the college.

Here’s a noun-spotting exercise for you to try.

As ever, make sure you are clear, internalise the rule by looking at the examples and then try and practice and use these nouns as soon as you can.

Next time we’ll be considering compound nouns and their vagaries.

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