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How to Teach Concrete and Abstract Nouns (with Examples)

Learning how to teach concrete and abstract nouns effectively is vital for English educators who aim to improve their students’ command of language and grammatical precision. This essential linguistic concept distinguishes between tangible objects that can be perceived by the senses and intangible ideas or feelings that cannot be physically held. Keep reading how to teach concrete and abstract nouns, with examples.

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Teachers can effectively highlight the differences and applications of concrete and abstract nouns by employing clear explanations, relevant examples, and engaging classroom activities. Understanding this distinction enables students to articulate a broader range of experiences and emotions, enhancing their English communication skills.

What are Concrete and Abstract Nouns?

Concrete and abstract nouns are foundational elements in language study, offering insights into how we categorize and communicate about the world around us and within us. Understanding these two types of nouns is crucial for developing a nuanced grasp of language, both for native speakers and learners of English.

Why are these important?

  • Expressive Range: The use of both concrete and abstract nouns allows for a vast range of expression, enabling individuals to communicate about both the physical world and the realm of ideas and emotions.
  • Cognitive Development: Understanding and using both types of nouns are key to cognitive development, especially in acquiring language and engaging in abstract thinking.
  • Cultural and Personal Expression: Abstract nouns play a significant role in expressing cultural values, personal feelings, and philosophical ideas.

With that said, here’s a list of commonly used Concrete and Abstract Nouns:

Concrete NounsAbstract Nouns
BookLove
CarHappiness
AppleAnger
ChairFreedom
PhoneBeauty
TreeCourage
HouseTime
DogWisdom
MountainJustice
RiverPeace

Teaching Concrete and Abstract Nouns

Concrete and abstract nouns are two key types of words in English that help us talk about different things. Let’s break them down into simpler terms.

Concrete Nouns

Concrete nouns are names for things that we can see, touch, smell, hear, or taste. These are real, physical things in the world.

How to Teach Concrete and Abstract Nouns

Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns are the opposite. They name feelings, ideas, or qualities that you can’t touch or see. These are things you feel or think about.

How to Teach Concrete and Abstract Nouns

Why Do These Nouns Matter?

Using both concrete and abstract nouns in our language allows us to discuss a wide array of topics, encompassing everything from the tangible objects we can hold in our hands to the intangible emotions and ideas that reside in our hearts. These nouns play a crucial role in our ability to learn and think, offering tools to explore not only the physical world around us but also the complex landscape of our inner thoughts and emotions.

Moreover, abstract nouns serve a special purpose by enabling us to share our feelings and beliefs with others, creating a bridge between personal experiences and communal understanding. Together, these types of nouns enrich our communication, allowing for a fuller expression of the human experience.

Exercises for teaching Concrete and Abstract Nouns

To completely grasp how Concrete and Abstract Nouns work, here are some exercises that can be used in teaching them:

Exercise 1: Fill in the Blanks

Instructions: Complete the sentences below with the correct type of noun (concrete or abstract) from the word bank. Note that some nouns may be used more than once, and some may not be used at all.
Word bank
Friendship (Abstract)Car (Concrete)
Chocolate (Concrete)Joy (Abstract)
Courage (Abstract)Tree (Concrete)
River (Concrete)Honesty (Abstract)
Laughter (Abstract)Thunder (Concrete)
1. The sound of ___________ filled the room as the children opened their gifts.
2. ___________ is essential in maintaining strong relationships.
3. A tall ___________ stood silently in the forest, its leaves whispering secrets to the wind.
4. The ___________ of the engine was the only warning before the race began.
5. She showed great ___________ when she rescued the kitten from the storm drain.
6. ___________ is not just a sweet treat; it’s a source of comfort for many.
7. The ___________ flowed swiftly, carrying leaves and branches away with its current.
8. ___________ in one’s actions leads to trust and respect from others.
9. His ___________ was infectious, making everyone around him feel happy and light-hearted.
10. During the storm, the ___________ could be heard, announcing the rain’s arrival.
Answer key (for teachers)
1. Laughter
2. Friendship
3. Tree
4. Sound/Thunder
5. Courage
6. Chocolate
7. River
8. Honesty
9. Joy
10. Thunder

Exercise 2: Matching Type

Instructions: Match the nouns in Column A with their correct descriptions or examples in Column B. Write the letter of the correct match next to each item.
Column AColumn B
1. WisdomA. A deep, resonating sound heard during a storm.
2. ThunderB. An emotion of great joy or delight.
3. FreedomC. The vast body of salt water that covers part of the Earth’s surface.
4. BicycleD. The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.
5. HappinessE. A two-wheeled vehicle that is propelled by pedals.
6. OceanF. An extensive area densely covered with trees.
7. TrustG. A state of being free; the power to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance.
8. PizzaH. A baked dish of Italian origin consisting of a flat, round base of dough topped with tomatoes, cheese, and other ingredients.
9. BraveryI. The firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
10. ForestJ. The quality of being courageous; valor.
Answer key (for teachers)
1. D. The quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.
2. A. A deep, resonating sound heard during a storm.
3. G. A state of being free; the power to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance.
4. E. A two-wheeled vehicle that is propelled by pedals.
5. B. An emotion of great joy or delight.
6. C. The vast body of salt water that covers part of the Earth’s surface.
7. I. The firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.
8. H. A baked dish of Italian origin consisting of a flat, round base of dough topped with tomatoes, cheese, and other ingredients.
9. J. The quality of being courageous; valor.
10. F. An extensive area densely covered with trees.

Final Thoughts on How to Teach Concrete and Abstract Nouns to Your Students

Teaching concrete and abstract nouns to students is a journey that enriches their understanding of the world and their ability to express themselves. By using a variety of teaching methods, such as direct explanations, engaging examples, and interactive exercises, educators can illuminate the differences and connections between these two types of nouns.

Encouraging students to explore and use both concrete and abstract nouns in their writing and speech fosters deeper cognitive skills and enhances their descriptive abilities. Ultimately, mastering this aspect of language empowers students to communicate more effectively and to appreciate the richness of human experience conveyed through words.

Embracing platforms like EnglishLearningByPro, which offers readily available and adaptable materials, allows teachers to personalize their teaching strategies according to each student’s unique needs. The ultimate goal is to empower students to easily master the use of verbs, enhancing their communication skills in the English language.

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John Bart
Author: John Bart

I am the co-owner of englishlearningbypro.com, a community built specifically for English teachers around the world trying to make a living teaching English. I have lived in Brazil for four years and had previously taught private English classes for three years. I am passionate about helping others, and making English teaching and learning easier.

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