If you can experience it, then it is a concrete noun. This seems like a simple definition, but concrete nouns can confuse the most studious pupil of the English language and grammar. Understanding what a concrete noun actually is can help you describe and explain them appropriately when you are writing research papers or essays or when you are completing tests. There are a few ways to easily discern regular, common and concrete nouns.

Concrete Noun Definition

A noun is a person, place or thing, of course, but a concrete noun takes that a step further. A concrete noun can be described as anything you can experience with your five senses: touch, smell, sight, hearing or taste. They are used to refer to experiencing something, such as a hug (touch), a rainbow (sight), a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie (taste), a blooming rose (smell) or the sound of rain on the roof (hearing).

Concrete Noun Breakdown

Sometimes, understanding what the direct reverse of a concrete noun is can assist you in discerning whether the word you are struggling to identify is or is not a concrete noun. So, in order to better understand concrete nouns, it might be helpful to understand what a concrete noun is not. The opposite of a concrete noun is an abstract noun. Abstract nouns are emotions, concepts, or states of being, like love, misery, knowledge and relaxation, for example.

A list of concrete words includes flower, friend, artist, police officer and bird. A flower can be revered for its scent, but it is the flower itself that creates the scent and is therefore described as the concrete noun. We can feel the warmth of friendship from a friend, but it is the friend that we can touch. We can enjoy the painting of an artist, but it is the artist who is real and who can discuss the art. A police officer can encourage others to follow the law, but it is the officer who is the concrete object. A melody in the trees can’t be heard without the bird creating the sound.

Concrete nouns are the objects that create the effect. A smile is a concrete noun because you experience the event physically. The emotion that the smile emits in the one who is smiling, the one who made that person smile and the person watching the happy interaction is an abstract noun. For instance, in the sentence “His smile at Edward’s joke made Gretchen happy,” the word "smile" is the concrete noun and the word "happy" is the abstract noun.

Tips and Tricks to Breaking the Concrete Noun Code

It can be confusing to understand concrete nouns because they are not only people, places and things but also the things we enjoy with our senses. In order to decide if a noun is concrete or not, consider whether you can touch, smell, taste, hear or see it. If not, it is abstract. The difference between abstract and concrete is that an abstract noun is not physical, whereas a concrete noun is present and able to be touched, seen, tasted, smelled, heard or otherwise experienced.

Concrete Nouns List

The list of concrete nouns is long and varied, covering a wide variety of things you can see, hear, touch, smell and taste. Here are a few of the more recognized concrete nouns that you are more than likely to come across in a textbook or when writing an essay or research paper about common places or events.

Table, chair, stairs, carpet, cookware, sofa, chaise, credenza and cabinet are all concrete nouns of items found in a home. Blouse, vest, skirt, pants, shoes, socks, sweater and dress are all concrete nouns that can be found in a closet. Sheep, dog, cow, chicken, horse and mule are all concrete nouns that you can find on a farm. Concrete nouns are always something you can experience through touch or taste or by hearing, seeing and smelling.

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About the Author

Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing about education, jobs, business trends and more for The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal, Today’s Parent and other publications. She graduated with a B.A. in Journalism from UNLV. Her full bio and clips can be seen at www.vegaswriter.com.