Difference Between Tangible and Intangible

Difference Between Tangible and Intangible

Expanding your vocabulary is important for developing your communication skills. There are a lot of ways that you can do it. You can read academic books. You can watch literature films. You can take an English course. However, these activities may or may not be convenient or preferred. Lucky enough, the Internet offers a ton of knowledge, that you can access in just a few keyboard clicks.

You must have stumbled into this article because you are wondering about the difference between tangible and intangible. What did that “in” do to the tangible and intangible definition to make them dissimilar? What is the meaning of tangible and intangible? What is the difference between tangible and intangible in terms of their function and use?

This article will explain what does tangible and intangible mean. It will also provide tangible and intangible examples, so you can grasp the distinction better. First, we will define each term, and then highlight their differences in a tabular form to provide better contrast and allow a better understanding of the concepts.

Definition of Tangible

You often see this word in literature, especially those that attempt to appeal to your tactile senses. But what exactly does it mean? Let’s first look at its structure. Tangible is an adjective, which means it is used to describe an object, event, or even a person. The modern language also uses this term as a noun or a term to refer to an object, event, or even a person. Because of its different functions, it also has different meanings. As an adjective, the definition of tangible is being perceptible through the sense of touch. It can also mean that something (or someone) is real or in a substantial form. For example, you can say that “a book is a tangible object,” and it would mean that the book can be physically touched.

As a noun, it refers to an asset that can be valued in reality. It is less used in this way, as it projects a deeper and less contemporary, almost poetic meaning. Most often, it is used in its plural form. For instance, you can say, “Let’s list down the tangibles and move on to the more abstract topics later” to refer to topics that involve palpable objects.                

This term originally came from the Latin term, “tangibilis”, which implies that something is touchable. Now, let’s look at “intangible.”

Definition of Intangible

With a 2-character difference, how does intangible differ from the former? Intangible is an antonym of tangible. Therefore, it can be expected that the definition of intangible is the direct opposite of the other. The word has been added with the prefix in-, which means “not.” The simple definition of the form, therefore, is that something cannot be touched or perceived in a tactile manner. This means that the subject being referred to is impalpable.

Like the former, this term can serve as either an adjective or a noun. As an adjective, it is often used to describe abstract objects or computer data. As an example, you can say that a soft copy of a document is intangible, whereas a printed paper copy is tangible. You can use it to refer to an object that is impossible to touch. For example, an apple is tangible, but a star is intangible. Finally, you can use the word to describe a concept that is difficult to imagine. For instance, the concept of the time machine is intangible because it is cognitively challenging to perceive and mathematically difficult to solve.

As a noun, you can use the term to refer to a group of intangible objects. For example, a teacher can say to her students, “Group 1 will report on the tangibles and Group 2 in the intangibles.”

Tangible vs Intangible Comparison Table

To provide a more detailed comparison, here’s a table with the main differences between the two subjects:

Basis of ComparisonTangibleIntangible
Meaning Not perceptible to the touchImpalpable, difficult for the mind to grasp
Form of speechAdjective, NounAdjective, Noun
Root wordNoneTangible
Mostly refer to.. ObjectsThoughts or concepts

Conclusion of the Main Difference Between Tangible vs Intangible

If you ever come across two words that are siblings of each other, and you see one of them with a prefix in-, you can guess that it is the opposite of the other. Even better, you can perform a quick search to gain a better comprehension of the expressions. Keeping a word-for-the-day is a great way to expand your vocabulary and communicate better.