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Bill Bennett

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Pin facts down with concrete nouns

Good writing is direct, clear and precise. It sends your thoughts and ideas directly to readers. Concrete nouns keep your writing on track. They are unambiguous and specific. Use them to pin down facts and inform readers.

Nouns are concrete when they refer to something you can touch, smell, see, taste or hear. They are things you sense directly.

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

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

Abstract nouns less useful

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.

If you report on events steer clear of abstract nouns. If you write reports, blog posts or anything for business avoid them.

Abstract nouns are useful when you want to generalise or when writing about ideas. They are useful in fiction or poetry.

But for work related writing they make it hard to figure out exactly what the writer means and are open to misinterpretation. That is the opposite to good business writing.

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