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Abstract Nouns

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
Emotions/Feelings
Love
Hate
Anger
Peace
Pride
Sympathy
States/Attributes
Bravery
Loyalty
Honesty
Integrity
Compassion
Charity
Success
Courage
Deceit
Skill
Beauty
Brilliance
Pain
Misery
Ideas/Concepts/Ideals
Belief
Dream
Justice
Truth
Faith
Liberty
Knowledge
Thought
Information
Culture
Trust
Dedication
Movements/Events
Progress
Education
Hospitality
Leisure
Trouble
Friendship
Relaxation
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:
-tion
-ism
-ity
-ment
-ness
-age
-ance
-ence
-ship
-ability
-acy
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.