Bill Bennett

Bill Bennett

Let concrete nouns pin down your writing

Good writing is direct, clear and precise. It gives readers direct insight into your thoughts and ideas.

Concrete nouns keep your writing on track. They are unambiguous and specific.

Use concrete nouns when you need to pin down facts and inform readers.

We describe nouns as concrete when they refer to something you can touch, smell, see, taste or hear. They are all things you sense directly.

Banana, chair, piston engine, trumpet, pterodactyl are all concrete nouns.

I like to think of concrete nouns as crunchy, but they could just as easily be squishy, smelly, loud or colourful.

As opposed to abstract nouns

On the other hand, abstract nouns are things you can’t form a picture of. They are ideas, conditions and qualities, such as courage and happiness.

Many abstract nouns started life as verbs or adverbs, but become abstract nouns with suffixes. So fascinate, becomes fascination, credible becomes credibility and so on.

Yet if you want to report on events or describe something, steer clear of abstract nouns.

Abstract nouns are useful when you want to generalise or when writing about ideas. They can be good for poetry, song lyrics and other flowery types of writing. At the same time they make it hard to figure out exactly what the writer means and are open to misinterpretation.