Objectives 

By the end of this lesson, you will be able to:

i.    distinguish  between concrete nouns and abstract nouns

ii.   use concrete and abstract nouns appropriately.

What is a concrete noun?

Simply  put,  a  concrete  noun  names  a  thing  that  can  be  seen,  heard,  smelt,  touched,  or tasted.  In other words, a concrete noun denotes something that you can perceive with one of your senses.  The vast majority of nouns are concrete. Take all animals and people, for instance.  You can touch, feel, see, and hear them.  Therefore, the words listed below are concrete nouns.

table                            star                    sheep                  books                 Kofi                         computer           

fridge                          mangoes            Adjoa                  ship                     water                     flag

The words listed above are concrete nouns because you can see, touch, feel, hear or smell them. So, concrete nouns name tangible items or tangible entities.

Therefore, we say that the name of every physical object, living or dead, animal or human is a concrete noun.   This means that a concrete noun has a material existence. Let us look at a few more examples of concrete nouns.

1.   The bride is already in her gown.

2.   That boy is the father of this man.

3.   The applicant gave the letter to the clerk

In Example 1, the words bride and   gown are concrete nouns. Bride is a concrete noun because it has a material existence. What this means is that you can see the bride and you can touch her as well.  Gown is also a concrete noun because it has a material existence; you can see the gown and you can touch it.

In Example 2, the words boy, father, and man are concrete nouns. Boy is a concrete noun because it has a material existence; you can see the boy and you can touch him.  In the same vein, the words father and man have material existence and so they are concrete nouns.

In Example 3, the words applicant, letter, and clerk, are concrete nouns.  Applicant is a concrete noun because it has a material existence; you can see the applicant in question and you can touch him.  In  the  same  vein,  the  words  letter  and  clerk  have  material existence  and so they are concrete nouns.

As you can see from the explanation above, concrete nouns name things that have physical properties; that is, things that are tangible and can be perceived by the senses.

There are 20 words listed below. Some are concrete nouns but others are not. Write all the concrete nouns you see on the list in your exercise book.

Wood                                       love                                         moon

rain                                         mother                                     happiness   

 Ama                                        bottle                                       trousers

Agya Kwame                           joy                                            sugar

wickedness                              wind                                         water

laziness                                    holiness                                   faith

car                                           sadness

The answers have been provided below. Use them to mark and then grade your own work.

The concrete nouns are: 
wood mother moon carrain trousers
Ama Agya Kwamesugar
wind waterbottle

So  a  concrete  noun  names  an  object  that  occupies  space  or  an  object  that  can  be recognized  by any of the senses.

How do we use concrete nouns?

1.   Most concrete nouns can be expressed in both the singular form and the plural form.

Watch below for some examples:

Singular                     Plural Final Sound

i.book–          books[s]
ii.
iii.
egg
house
–          eggs
–          houses
[z][ɪz]

Let us form sentences with these concrete nouns.

i.    I left my book on the table.

ii.   All my books are in my school bag.

iii. There are several ways of cooking an egg.

iv. Eating too many eggs is simply bad.

v.   My teacher has a house near Boti Falls.

vi. There are beautiful houses at Oyarifa.

2.   Concrete nouns in the singular form are introduced by a determiner.  For example: 

i.          I ate an orange this morning.

ii.         Our teacher built a house near Boti Falls.

iii.        My father will buy me a shirt tomorrow.

In the examples above, orange, teacher, house, father, and shirt are concrete nouns.  Each concrete noun is introduced by a determiner.  In the sentences above, both the concrete noun and its determiner are underlined.  It is important to learn at this point that all nouns that are not concrete are abstract.

What are abstract nouns? 

Simply put, an abstract noun names a thing that cannot be seen, heard, smelt, touched, or tasted.  In other words, an abstract noun denotes something that you cannot perceive with your senses.   Therefore,   abstract  nouns  are  all  those  things  which  we  cannot  sense externally.   For   example,   we   cannot   externally   see,   hear,   or   touch   abstract   nouns. Specifically,  we  cannot  externally  see  and  touch  love,  virtue,  kindness,  beauty,  and bribery. So, we observe that no physical thing is abstract.

Abstract nouns are qualities, states of mind, attitudes, ideas or actions.  For example, the underlined words in the sentences below are abstract nouns.

i.          Honesty is the best virtue.

ii.         Your intelligence is amazing.

iii.        He showed exceptional bravery during the battle. 

In the above examples, honesty, virtue, intelligence, and bravery are abstract nouns.

How do we identify an abstract noun?

A word is likely to be an abstract noun if:

i.    it ends in ‘ness’, ‘ity’, ‘ism’, ‘tion’, ‘sion’, ‘nce’, or ‘ment’.  For example:

nessas inhappinessgoodnessholinesshighness
ityas inabilitystabilityidentityprosperity
ismas inpatriotismactivismidealismsymbolism
tionas inpositiondictationcorrectionadmiration
sionas inadmissionprofessionoccasioncommission
nceas inpresenceabsencepatienceassistance
mentas inmovementailmentpaymenttreatment
ii.   it has no material existence.  For example: 
greed justicesuspicion faithjealousy joylaziness religion
apathyworkzeallaughter
noveltytruthopinionpride

What have you noticed about the abstract nouns listed above?

Therefore, an abstract noun does not have a material existence; it noun only exists in the mind.

How do we use abstract nouns?

1.   Abstract nouns do not usually have the plural form. For example:

i. Justice is what we all need.

ii. Independence was necessary at the time.

iii. Your knowledge helps you to lead your people.

iv. Wisdom comes from above. 

You observe that the abstract nouns in the sentences above have been underlined once and the finite verbs that follow them have been underlined twice.  The abstract nouns in the sentences above are justice, independence, knowledge, and wisdom. You notice that each of the abstract nouns is in the singular form.  So, abstract nouns do not usually have the plural form.

2.   Abstract nouns are not introduced by the articles ‘a’ or ‘an’. Below is a paraphrase of a popular religious quotation.  Read it a couple of times.

What   human   nature   does   is   plain.   It   shows   itself in   immorality,   filth, indecency, witchcraft, enmity, jealousy, anger, and ambition.  But the spirit of God   produces love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self-control (Galatians 5:19-23)

Do you notice all the abstract nouns listed in the paraphrase above? The abstract nouns in the paraphrase above are:

immoralityfilthindecency
witchcraftenmityjealousy
anger joyambition peacelove kindness
goodness self-controlfaithfulnesshumility

Do you notice that none of the abstract nouns in the paragraph is introduced by the article ‘a’ or ‘an’?  That is true; an abstract now is not preceded by the article ‘a’ or ‘an’.

Summary:

  1. The  name  of  every  physical  object,  living  or  dead,  animal or  human  is  a concrete noun.  So, a concrete noun has a material existence.
  2.  Most  concrete  nouns  can  be  expressed  in  both  the  singular  form and  the plural form.
  3. Concrete nouns in the singular form must be introduced by a determiner.
  4. Abstract nouns are all those things which we cannot sense externally.  They are qualities, states of mind, attitudes, ideas or actions.
  5. Abstract nouns do not usually have the plural form and are not introduced by the articles ‘a’ or ‘an’.

CONTENT CONSULTANTS Author

John Tetteh Agor, Ph.D. 

Peer Reviewers 

Modestus Fosu, Ph.D.

 Prosper Kwesi Agordjor, M.Phil.

 William  Foli Garr, (Rev.) M.Phil.