Nontangible vs. intangible: what looks like the correct adjective for the word tangible? While both words are correct, one is more popular than the other. Let's look at the meanings and what's more popularly accepted in modern English.
The adjective intangible means "not having physical substance or intrinsic productive values." Other sources explain that it means "hard to pin down or identify." Or "incapable of being perceived by the senses, especially the sense of touch." On the other hand, the word nontangible means "intangible."
Some sources claim that these words are synonyms. However, others argue that only one of the two is correct. Read on to have detailed clarity about these words.
Definitions Of Nontangible And Intangible
These words are adjectives formed from the word "tangible." So, starting this section by defining "tangible" would be wise. Tangible is "something you can touch or discern by the sense of touch." Let's look at an example in a sentence, "The council requested tangible evidence of the research for a board presentation."
Another source defines tangible as "something real or actual, instead of imagery or visionary." For example, in the sentence, "The professor discussed the tangible benefits of the course before beginning the lesson."
Another meaning for tangible is "something definite" or "the opposite of vague or elusive." An example sentence is, "The judge dismissed the case for lack of tangible grounds for accusation."
Now that we understand the meaning of tangible, we can comfortably look at the definitions of intangible and nontangible according to various sources.
Definition Of Nontangible
According to most dictionaries, the definition of nontangible is "intangible." This means that these words share the same meaning. However, since they are both present in the dictionary, it means that you can use either of them.
They are both correct words and synonyms. An example in a sentence: "The case does not have any bearing because of the nontangible grounds for suspicion."
Definition Of Intangible
The definition of "intangible" will also explain the word "nontangible." However, intangible is more popular in modern English than nontangible.
Intangible is the antonym of the opposite of tangible. So, it means "incapable of being detected or perceived through the sense of touch," something immaterial or impalpable. For example, in a sentence, "Consumers do not respond as well to intangible products as their counterparts."
Another source defines intangible as "something unclear to the mind, or not definite." An example in a sentence is," Mercy's intangible arguments will not earn her any sympathy or support."
When referring to an asset, the word intangible means "something that only exists in connection with something else." For example, "A business's goodwill is the perfect example of an intangible asset."
As a noun, this word refers to "something with intangible characteristics," unseen, imperceivable, immaterial. In a sentence, "The villagers will not value the intangible because they do not understand the concept behind it."
In law, intangible means "incorporeal property." This refers to sealed property, not material, like stocks, promissory notes, deposits at the bank, and bonds. An example sentence is, "The company failed to account for its intangible assets when filing its taxes last year."
How To Properly Use Nontangible And Intangible In A Sentence
According to the comprehensive definitions above, intangible and nontangible are both correct English words with similar meanings. So, learning how to use each word will help you know more about the other word. Here are some practical guidelines for using these words in sentences:
How To Use The Word Nontangible
Use this word in a sentence as an adjective in the following contexts:
- Referring to something imperceivable. For example, "Explaining a nontangible product takes a lot of work."
- Referring to an immaterial idea or object. For example, "The nontangible ideas made Mike trouble with the investors."
Use this term in your daily contexts as a noun when referring to something with intangible qualities. For example, in a sentence, "We hope that the intangible will not come up in the meeting."
Since this word is a countable noun, make sure you also embrace its plural form, "nontangibles." Here is how you can use this plural form in a sentence, "The students will not stop discussing the intangibles after the exposure on Netflix."
How To Use The Word Intangible
Use this word as an adjective in a sentence in the following contexts:
- Referring to something with no real or physical form. For example, "The intangible product sold remarkably despite our doubts."
- Something difficult to define or describe. For example, "NFTs are a perfect example of intangible items."
- Something that cannot be observed. For example, "Your intangible thoughts are not visually distinct."
- Something that only the mind can conceive. For example, "Jane tried to explain her intangible ideas to the class."
You can also embrace it as a noun to refer to a particular object with intangible characteristics. In noun contexts, use its plural form, "intangibles.' For example, "Kim refused to disclose her intangibles during the Forbes interview."
Nontangible Vs. Intangible: A Little Comparison
These words have a lot in common. For instance, they both feature the agent word "tangible" in their spelling. Furthermore, they have the same meaning. However, they also have some key differences. Here are some of them;
Syllables And Pronunciation
The word "nontangible" has four syllables, "non-tan-gi-ble." So, its proper pronunciation is '/nun-tan-juh-buh/." On the other hand, the word "intangible's" correct pronunciation is "/in-tan-juh-buh/." Like nontangible, intangible has four syllables. However, unlike nontangible, intangible has a stressed syllable, "tan."
Another difference between these words is their prefixes. The coiners of these words added the prefixes "-non" and "-in' to the word "tangible" to form them. The prefix "-in" means "not." So, intangible means not tangible, and imperfect means not perfect. On the other hand, the prefix "non" is not only a prefix but a word on its own.
It helps you negate a word or write its opposite. For instance, existent becomes nonexistent, and tangible becomes nontangible. However, these prefixes do not apply to all words. For example, words like interested do not become noninterested or ininterested. Instead, it becomes disinterested. So, the prefix "-dis" also serves the same purpose as "-non and -in."
List Of Examples Of Nontangible And Intangible Use In Sentences
There isn't much to learn about these words apart from the information discussed above. However, this post would be incomplete without some example sentences. Here are examples of sentences with the words intangible and nontangible:
Example sentences of nontangible
- Jane took an hour to explain her idea while trying to paint an image of a nontangible product.
- Luke's nontangible claims against his employer got him fired.
- I refuse to partake in nontangible arguments.
- Valuing a nontangible is hard.
- The nontangible assets are not taxable.
Example sentences of intangible
- The comments by the Prime Minister about the impacts of inflation had an intangible effect on the economy.
- The discrimination she faced had intangible repercussions on her mental well-being.
- Equality is the perfect example of an intangible right.
- Jane spent the night fantasizing about her intangible dream.
- Kevin lost her investors when she could not prove the value of her intangible product.
The opposite of the word tangible can be intangible or nontangible. So, you can use both words in writing. However, the word intangible is more popular and accepted. So, while they are both correct, when you use nontangible in formal writing, some people may assume it is a misspelling for intangible. So, to be on the safer side, using intangible would be wise. Let us know your thoughts on this article.
Shawn Manaher is the founder and CEO of The Content Authority. He's one part content manager, one part writing ninja organizer, and two parts leader of top content creators. You don't even want to know what he calls pancakes.