Abstract Vs Concrete

Abstract vs. Concrete

Nouns should be as specific as possible without getting your reader bogged down in details. Imagine that every noun has an abstraction ladder, the higher you climb the more abstract. So “home” would be near the top of the ladder, while “dilapidated double-wide with dirty baby-blue aluminum siding” would be near the bottom. For each noun, you’ll need to choose the appropriate level of specificity. You’ll also want to be wary of abstract words, like “freedom,” “love,” “courage,” etc, since they will mean different things to every reader. If you must use these words, be sure to define and/or modify them accordingly. Conversely, make sure specific detail is relevant and not distracting.

Notice the difference concrete words can make.
a. Despite working 40 hours a week at a fast food restaurant, Cheryl cannot afford a decent sized home
for her and her children.

b. Despite working 40 hours a week at McDonalds, Cheryl cannot afford anything but a government
subsidized, one-bedroom apartment for her and her three teenaged children.

Revise following sentences for an appropriate level of specificity.
1. It was then that a red-faced Jim, visibly enraged, threw the newly shined, ten-pound, dark blue
bowling ball at the four remaining scuffed and slightly dented pins.
2. Americans needs to remember that the military is here to protect their freedom.
3. The road, which has very bad driving conditions, has a speed limit of 55 miles an hour.

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