As far as I know, common nouns include all the nouns except for proper nouns. Specifically, common nouns include abstract nouns as well as concrete nouns, which include material nouns and collective nouns.

But concrete nouns also include a large subset of nouns that are neither material nouns nor collective nouns. For example, concrete nouns such as 'car', 'building', 'person', 'country' and 'chair' are neither material nouns nor collective nouns.

I think this subset of concrete nouns are always countable unless they are converted to material nouns in context. Is there a name for this large subset of concrete nouns?


I don't know why, but comments suggest 'pronouns' as the answer to my question.

But I'm not interested in pronouns. I'm interested in common, concrete nouns such as 'car', 'building', 'person', 'country' and 'chair'.

But the term 'common noun' is too board as it also includes abstract nouns, material nouns, and collective nouns. Even the term 'concrete noun' is too board as it also includes material nouns and collective nouns.

  • Definite pronouns are not common nouns. (Maybe they're not nouns at all.)
    – Greg Lee
    Nov 8, 2017 at 13:17
  • All pronouns are a subclass of "noun" since they can occur as heads of NPs, just like common and proper nouns do.
    – BillJ
    Nov 8, 2017 at 19:53
  • 1
    Non-controversially, all pronouns are nominals.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 8, 2017 at 22:41
  • 1
    So are you looking for a subcategory of nouns which denote discrete, elementary, real-life, and generic things? Being discrete it contrasts with mass-nouns (or material nouns, as you said) such as "water"; being elementary it contrasts with collective nouns such as "baggage"; being real-life it contrasts with abstract nouns such as "search"; and being generic it contrasts with proper nouns such as "Bart Simpson". Actually, the term concrete you used refers to non-abstract (i.e. real-life) nouns independent of the other categories, so "water" is a concrete noun.
    – Seninha
    Nov 9, 2017 at 4:57
  • @Seninha Are you suggesting 'concrete noun' as the answer to my question? But 'concrete noun' fails to exclude collective nouns or material nouns.
    – JK2
    Nov 9, 2017 at 5:05

1 Answer 1


It appears the term you're looking for is countable concrete noun. (Curiously, count or countable is used in both the linguistic literature and in pedagogic texts, a rare instance of consensus between the two). These can be modified with numbers and quantifiers except when the nouns themselves are used as modifiers (i.e. 'cars' but *'cars shop'). I don't know of an umbrella term that encompasses both countability/discreteness and concreteness, however.

In pedagogic materials, the term count or countable is used at least in the Focus on Grammar series, last updated in 2012. I recall these being common linguistic terms as well.

  • Thanks. Are you familiar with some grammars calling the 'countable concrete noun' the 'common noun'?
    – JK2
    Nov 18, 2017 at 4:55
  • As far as I'm aware, "common noun" simply refers to generic nouns (as opposed to proper nouns, which refer to unique entities). Concrete nouns (except ones with specific reference to unique entities) would be a subclass of common nouns, then, and countable concrete nouns would be a sub-subclass. Frege's "Sense and Reference" (cited below) is one example of academic work on how nouns and names (signs) are processed in the human mind. Frege, Gottlob. “Sense and Reference.” The Philosophical Review, vol. 57, no. 3, 1948, pp. 209–230., www.jstor.org/stable/2181485.
    – Eric D.
    Nov 19, 2017 at 20:54

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