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    #1

    Abstract nouns

    My daughter had a quiz today at school on abstract and concrete nouns. She was marked as wrong on two of the questions:

    law and hunger - she said abstract and I agree with her but the teacher said they were concrete.

    I'd be grateful for opinions.

    Secondly, I do occasionally have a problem with the definition of an abstract noun as "something you cannot perceive with the five senses". As an example, sweetness, bitterness, sourness, saltiness can all be tasted though I, myself, consider them as abstract nouns. Similarly loudness, brightness, smelliness, stink, roughness, smoothness can all be sensed but I'd consider them abstract too..

    Any comments?

    Thank you.

    John Wood

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    #2

    Re: Abstract nouns

    I'd agree with your daughter, though individual laws have to be published so they do have a physical form, but the primary meaning for me is the concept. I wouldn't define an abstract noun that way; it's about existing physically or not, so I can't see any way that hunger is a concrete noun. Using the sense of feel is also going to lead to some strange results- I can feel a table and I can feel (the) cold- senses may be good for testing but they don't define these nouns.


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    #3

    Re: Abstract nouns

    Thanks.
    I'd like to define abstract nouns as objects that do not have mass (i.e. they are not Matter) and concrete nouns as objects that do have mass but then come to the problem of Energy, in the Physical sense - heat, light, radiation, x-rays, magnetism, gravity etc. that I'd also define as concrete.
    On the other hand there are forms of energy that I'd have a problem with such as sunlight, sunshine, moonlight, moonbeams.
    Time is yet another problem. Is a day, week, year etc. concrete? Time itself? Yesterday, today, tomorrow, forever? Summer. winter, Tuesday? To me they seem abstract although we can physically measure them.

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    #4

    Re: Abstract nouns

    How do you measure Tuesday? By the amount of Tuesdayness?
    Why not revert to the other classification of nouns as countable/uncountable? Equate abstract with uncountable. That's probably what teech was thinking of, even if he/she didn't know it.
    That would place law as concrete, countable, hunger as abstract, uncountable.
    Time would be a problem, depending on your interpretation, but mainly because no one really understands it, except maybe Christopher Hawking!

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    #5

    Re: Abstract nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by Pedroski View Post
    How do you measure Tuesday? By the amount of Tuesdayness?
    Why not revert to the other classification of nouns as countable/uncountable? Equate abstract with uncountable. That's probably what teech was thinking of, even if he/she didn't know it.
    That would place law as concrete, countable, hunger as abstract, uncountable.
    Time would be a problem, depending on your interpretation, but mainly because no one really understands it, except maybe Christopher Hawking!
    I'm afraid that there is no inherent connection whatever between concrete/abstract and count/noncount nouns! Count nouns can perfectly well be abstract (a dream, an idea, a vision), just as noncount nouns can be concrete (tea, coffee, sugar).

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    #6

    Re: Abstract nouns

    Don't be afraid:
    As the questioner is English, I thought he might be susceptible to a light-hearted approach! What is concrete about hunger? Except when you're starving! Teech seemed to think it was touchable.

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    #7

    Re: Abstract nouns

    OK. If you were just joking, we'll leave the matter there.

    (I trust that that questioner realizes that!)

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