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Abstract Nouns

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An abstract noun is a type of noun that refers to something with which a person cannot
physically interact. A noun is a person, place or thing. However, in many cases, the 'thing' might
be an intangible concept which means it is an abstract form of noun. In this instance, abstract
means to exist apart from concrete existence. A noun that is abstract is an aspect, concept, idea,
experience, state of being, trait, quality, feeling, or other entity that cannot be experienced with
the five senses.

Recognizing When a Noun Is Abstract

Concrete nouns are people, places, or things that we would experience with our five senses. The
abstract class is the opposite - we can never experience these nouns according to our senses. If a
noun is abstract, it describes something you cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or smell.

Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize when the noun is abstract because there are a number
of words that can function in different ways. For example, some words might function as verbs
in some cases and abstract nouns in other cases. Love and taste are two examples.

I love my husband. [In this sentence, the word love expresses an action and is therefore
acting as a verb.]

Send them my love. [In this sentence, the word love functions as an abstract noun
because it is a thing that exists beyond the five senses.]

Sarah could taste cilantro in the salsa. [In this sentence, the auxiliary verb 'could'
functions with taste to illustrate action. She can physically taste the salsa.]

Sarah has great taste in clothes. [In this sentence, taste functions in an abstract manner.
Taste refers to her preferences.]

Abstract nouns can be countable or non-countable (mass). They can also be in singular or
possessive form. Abstract nouns follow the same grammar rules as other nouns.

Common Abstract Nouns










































More examples of abstract nouns are included in Examples of Abstract Nouns.

Abstract forms of nouns are very common and an important part of communication. In many
cases these types of nouns are derived from an addition of a suffix or alteration in the root word.
Child is a concrete noun, for example, but childhood is an intangible state, so it is abstract.
Nouns with the following suffixes are often abstract:












Using Abstract vs. Concrete Nouns in Writing

Abstraction is an important part of communication. Abstract nouns name things that can't be
seen, heard, tasted, smelled or touched, but allow us to express information by defining them on
some level. An important precaution for students and writers, however, is that there is the danger
of the being misunderstood when using abstract forms in writing.

Words like love, freedom, beauty, taste, and justice, might mean different things to different
people. To one person, good taste means eclectic and original; to another good taste might mean
clean and modern. Teachers and writing coaches often recommend using concrete nouns to
support any abstract references, thereby clarifying the message you are trying to convey.

Understanding and recognizing abstract nouns is important. Although these nouns give
expression to intangible entities, sentences with fewer abstract and more concrete nouns are
typically more concise and clear.

Teaching Tools and Resources

Teachers begin lessons on differentiating abstract and concrete nouns in elementary school and
reinforce the concept in middle school. ESL teachers may also complete lesson plans and
activities based on abstract nouns. For example:

English the Easy Way - An abstract nouns quiz

Lesson Plans Page - A lesson plan on abstract nouns

Utica Community Schools - Activities on abstract and concrete nouns

Jerz's Literacy Weblog - A nominalization lesson

A final reminder: A noun that is abstract is an aspect, concept, idea, experience, state of being,
trait, quality, feeling, or other entity that cannot be experienced with the five senses.



Abstract Nouns
What are abstract nouns? You probably can recall that nouns are words that name people,
animals, places, things, and ideas. Here, well define abstract nouns, provide abstract noun
examples, and give you the information you need for using an abstract noun to write interesting

What are Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns are words that name things that are not concrete. Your five physical senses cannot
detect an abstract noun you cant see it, smell it, taste it, hear it, or touch it. In essence, an
abstract noun is a quality, a concept, an idea, or maybe even an event.

Abstract nouns and concrete nouns are usually defined in terms of one another. Something that is
abstract exists only in the mind, while something that is concrete can be interacted with in a
physical way. Qualities, relationships, theories, conditions, and states of being are some
examples of the types of things abstract nouns define.

Abstract Noun Examples

Although you may not realize it, you experience abstract nouns every day and in many different
types of situations. Once youve read these abstract noun examples, youll probably find it very
easy to come up with some abstract nouns of your own.

Love, fear, anger, joy, excitement, and other emotions are abstract nouns.

Courage, bravery, cowardice, and other such states are abstract nouns.

Desire, creativity, uncertainty, and other innate feelings are abstract nouns.

These are just a few examples of non-concrete words that are sensed. The following sentences
contain abstract noun examples which have been italicized for easy identification. Notice that
although the ideas expressed are real, they are things you cant see, touch, taste, smell, or hear.

I want to see justice served.

Id like the freedom to travel all over the world.

Joe felt a nagging sense of doom.

Love is a kind of irresistible desire; its hard to define.

When Sarah jumped into the lake to rescue a drowning cat, her bravery astonished onlookers.