What are Material Nouns? Definition, Rules & Examples

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Material nouns in English grammar are names of substances which are used as raw materials for other things. But, unlike abstract nouns, these nouns are tangible and can be seen, measured or touched by our five senses. Some common things like gold, cotton, oil, water, plastic, honey, air, cloth, and paper are examples of this noun. All these materials are either used as it is or for making something out of it. To know more about it, we have compiled a blog which will help you learn all about these types of nouns. 

Also Read: Nouns: Definition, Examples

What is a Material Noun? – Definition

As defined above, these nouns are a material or an ingredient which needs to be perceived by the senses. Here are some common examples which come under material nouns: 

  • The word “wood” comes under material noun as it can be seen and felt. 
  • Similarly, other common material nouns include cement, sand, plastic, glass, stone, water, air, etc. 

Fun Fact: Material Nouns become common nouns if an article (a/an/the) is added before them. For example, ‘The glass’.

Examples of Material Nouns

Here are some common examples which come under the category of material nouns. 

  1. Silver: Coins are made of silver.
  2. Air: We breathe air.
  3. Leather: He has a leather bag.
  4. Rice: We bought two bags of rice.
  5. Cotton: They are working in the cotton fields.
Material Nouns Examples

Types of Material Nouns

As indicated above, material nouns are names given to raw materials or objects that exist in nature and cannot be created by human beings. However, there are some things which can be created using raw materials. The main sources of raw materials are nature, animals, plants and man-made. 

ClassificationMaterial Nouns
Materials from NatureWater, Air, Gold, Silver, Copper, Sand, Iron, Rock, Sunlight, Rain, Earth etc.
Materials from PlantsCotton, Food, Wood, Tea, Coffee, Rubber, Perfume etc.
Materials from AnimalsEgg, Meat, Honey, Milk, Leather, Wool etc.
Materials which are man-madeAlcohol, Brick, Cement, Ghee, Cheese, Acid etc.

How to Use Material Nouns in a Sentence?

Material Nouns are used in Singular numbers in the English grammar. However, you must be careful about the usage of articles. Here are some rules regarding material nouns which should be incorporated into sentences. 

Rule 1: As mentioned above, material nouns are always spoken in singularity and are accompanied by a singular verb (is/she/was).

Example: 

  • Silver is my weak point. 
  • Air is polluted. 
  • Rice is harvested every year.

Rules 2: Articles like (a, an, and the) do not come before material nouns.

Example: 

  • The water is dirty. – Wrong (❌)
  • Water is dirty – Right (✅)
  • I like a gold – Wrong (❌)
  • I like gold – Right (✅)

Rule 3: Number (1,2,3, etc.) usage should not be done before these nouns. 

Example: 

  • One salt – Wrong (❌)
  • One bowl of salt – Right (✅)
  • Four wood – Wrong (❌)
  • Four logs of wood – Right (✅)

Rule 4: As mentioned above, material nouns are always considered singular. Hence, ‘s’ or ‘es’ cannot be used with them.

Example: 

  • Plastics – Wrong (❌)
  • Plastic – Right (✅)
  • Gold – Right (✅)
  • Golds – Wrong (❌)

Rule 5: Quantifiers like ‘a lot’, ‘some’ and ‘few’ can be used before material nouns when talking about quantity, amounts and degree. 

Example: 

Give me a lot of rice

Have a few drops of medicine

Rule 6: Whenever a material noun appears at the beginning of the sentence, the first letter is capitalized. Whereas, if it is written in the middle of the sentence then it is written in small letters only.

Example: 

  • Diamonds are precious – Right (✅)
  • I like Gold – Wrong (❌)
  • We breathe air- Right (✅)

Material Noun vs Abstract Noun

Confused between abstract nouns and material nouns? Here is a basic difference between the two.

Abstract NounsMaterial Nouns
DefinitionThese are ideas, qualities or feelings that one cannot touch, feel or hear.
We can talk about them but cannot experience them with our five senses.
These include things that can be experienced with our five senses. We can touch them, feel and see them. 
ExampleThunder, Honesty, Hunger, Glory, Truth etc.Table, Chair, Rose, Book, Bottle etc.

Exercise on Material Noun for Practice

It’s time to test your knowledge! Fill in the blanks with the correct form of materials from the bracket. 

  1. Vehicle tiers are made of _____ (Rubber/Leather/ Plastic)
  2. Most families have utensils made out of ______ (Steel/Paper/Rubber)
  3. At parties, we often find plates and cups made out of ______ (Earth/Plastic/Paper)
  4. Mathew took a heavy blanket of _____ along with him on his trip. (Rayon/Wool/Cotton)

Check Your Answers!

  1. Rubber
  2. Steel
  3. Plastic
  4. Wool

Check Related Blogs!

Types of NounsNoun, Verb, Adjective, & Adverb 
Compound NounsHow to Use Nouns and Prepositions
Collective NounsPlural Nouns
Countable and Uncountable NounsAbstract Noun

FAQs

What are material noun examples?

Material noun refers to something that is physical and can be felt, heard or touched. Some common examples of material nouns include acid, air, alcohol, brick, stone, paper, gold etc.

Is milk a material noun?

Yes, milk is a material noun. Anything that can be touched, felt or heard comes under material noun. 

What are abstract nouns?

Anything that cannot be physically touched or seen by our senses comes under abstract nouns. Some common examples include glory, hunger, truth, love etc. 

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