Caleb S.
Caleb S.

What's an Abstract Noun? Definition and Examples

13 min read

Published on: Jun 15, 2024

Last updated on: Jun 24, 2024

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When we talk about nouns, we often think of physical objects that we can touch, see, or hear. However, there's a whole other category of nouns that represent intangible concepts, feelings, qualities, or states. These are known as Abstract Nouns”.

According to Abstract Noun Definition:

“An abstract noun refers to a type of noun that represents intangible concepts, emotions, qualities, or states that cannot be perceived through the five senses.” 

Why Abstract Nouns Matter:

While concrete nouns represent tangible objects in the physical world, abstract nouns allow us to express deeper thoughts, feelings, and concepts. 

They play a crucial role in language and communication by enabling us to articulate complex ideas and emotions.

Examples of abstract nouns sentences include:

  • Their love for each other grew stronger every day.
  • Finding true happiness is the ultimate goal for many people.
  • The pursuit of justice is essential for a fair society.

How to Use Abstract Nouns in a Sentence

Abstract nouns add depth and complexity to sentences by expressing intangible concepts and emotions. Here are some ways to effectively use them:

  • Subject or Object: Use abstract nouns as the subject or object of a sentence to convey the central idea or emotion.

For example:

  • "Love conquers all."
  • "She radiates happiness wherever she goes."
  • Modifiers: Use abstract nouns as modifiers to describe or qualify other nouns.

For example:

  • "His kindness touched everyone he met."
  • "The painting evokes a sense of nostalgia."
  • Verbs of State: Pair abstract nouns with verbs that denote a state or condition. 

For example:

  • "She found inner peace through meditation."
  • "Their friendship endured despite the distance."
  • Comparisons and Contrasts: Use abstract nouns to draw comparisons or contrasts between ideas or situations.

For example:

  • "The contrast between poverty and wealth was stark."
  • "His bravery surpassed that of any other soldier."

Abstract Nouns Examples

Abstract nouns cater to a wide range of intangible concepts, emotions, personality traits, philosophical concepts, and more. 

Here are different types of abstract noun lists:

Ideas:

  • Democracy
  • Justice
  • Creativity
  • Innovation

Emotions:

  • Love
  • Anger
  • Joy
  • Sadness

Personality Traits:

  • Courage
  • Generosity
  • Patience
  • Honesty

Philosophical Concepts:

  • Truth
  • Morality
  • Existence
  • Wisdom

States and Conditions:

  • Peace
  • Chaos
  • Serenity
  • Confusion

Qualities and Attributes:

  • Beauty
  • Strength
  • Integrity
  • Compassion

Intellectual Concepts:

  • Knowledge
  • Wisdom
  • Logic
  • Understanding

Types of Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns consist of a variety of intangible concepts, emotions, and qualities. One way to categorize abstract nouns is by whether they are countable or uncountable.

Countable Abstract Nouns

These abstract nouns represent concepts or qualities that can be counted or quantified.

Examples include:

  • Idea (e.g., "She had many ideas for the project.")
  • Thought (e.g., "His thoughts on the matter were insightful.")
  • Emotion (e.g., "She experienced conflicting emotions.")

Uncountable Abstract Nouns

These abstract nouns represent concepts or qualities that cannot be counted because they are considered to be continuous or infinite.

Examples include:

  • Love (e.g., "Their love for each other grew stronger over time.")
  • Happiness (e.g., "Finding happiness is a lifelong pursuit.")
  • Peace (e.g., "The world longs for peace.")

Abstract Nouns vs. Concrete Nouns

Concrete nouns and abstract nouns are two fundamental categories of nouns that serve distinct purposes in language. 

Here's a breakdown of their differences:

Aspect

Abstract Nouns

Concrete Nouns

Definition

Represent intangible concepts, emotions, or qualities.

Refer to tangible objects perceivable through the senses.

Examples

Love, courage, happiness, justice, freedom.

Table, cat, tree, book, apple.

Perception

Exist in the perception of thought and imagination.

Directly perceivable through sensory experiences.

Usage

Express emotions, ideas, qualities, and concepts.

Refer to specific people, places, things, or animals.

How to Create Abstract Nouns with Suffixes

Suffixes are added to existing words to create new words with altered meanings or grammatical functions. When creating abstract nouns, certain suffixes can be particularly useful. 

Here are some common suffixes used to form abstract nouns:

  • -ness: This suffix is added to adjectives or nouns to form abstract nouns denoting a state, quality, or condition.

Example: Happy ? Happiness, Kind ? Kindness

  • -ily/-ty: These suffixes are added to adjectives to form abstract nouns denoting a state, quality, or degree.

Example: Happy ? Happily, Honest ? Honesty

  • -ion/-tion/-ation: These suffixes are added to verbs to form abstract nouns denoting an action, process, or result.

Example: Create ? Creation, Communicate ? Communication

  • -ment: This suffix is added to verbs to form abstract nouns denoting an action, process, or result, often indicating a state or condition.

Example: Govern ? Government, Develop ? Development

  • -hood: This suffix is added to nouns to form abstract nouns denoting a state, condition, or quality, often related to a particular group or category.

Example: Brother ? Brotherhood, Neighbor ? Neighborhood

Using Abstract Nouns Appropriately: When & When Not To

Abstract nouns can enhance your writing by expressing intangible concepts and emotions, but it's essential to use them judiciously.

Here's when to use abstract nouns effectively and when it's best to avoid them:

When to Use Abstract Nouns

  • Emotional Depth: Use abstract nouns to evoke emotions and add depth to your writing. For example, "His profound sadness was palpable."
  • Conceptual Clarity: Employ abstract nouns to articulate abstract ideas or concepts clearly. For instance, "The concept of freedom is fundamental to democracy."
  • Expressing Qualities: Utilize abstract nouns to describe qualities or attributes. For example, "Her kindness touched everyone she met."

When Not to Use Abstract Nouns

  • Overgeneralization: Avoid overusing abstract nouns, as they can lead to vague or overly general statements. For instance, instead of saying "Love conquers all," provide specific examples or contexts.
  • Lack of Clarity: If an abstract noun obscures the intended meaning or creates ambiguity, consider using concrete nouns or rephrasing the sentence for clarity.
  • Loss of Impact: In some cases, using concrete language with tangible details can have a more significant impact than abstract nouns. For example, "The empty playground echoed with the laughter of children."

Practice Exercise: Identify the Abstract Noun

These are some exercises for you to identify abstract nouns:

  1. Her bravery during the crisis was commendable. ________________________________
  2. The beauty of the sunset took my breath away. __________________________________
  3. His determination to succeed never wavered. ___________________________________
  4. Their laughter echoed through the room. _______________________________________
  5. The concept of justice is central to our legal system. ____________________________


Answers:

  1. Bravery
  2. Beauty
  3. Determination
  4. Laughter
  5. Concept

In conclusion, understanding abstract nouns is essential for improving your writing skills. These special words play a significant role in expressing intangible concepts, emotions, and ideas effectively.

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Continue Learning

If you want to learn more about academic writing, grammar, and related concepts, check out these blogs. 

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Caleb S.

WRITTEN BY

Caleb S. (Mass Literature and Linguistics, Masters)

Caleb S. is an accomplished author with over five years of experience and a Master's degree from Oxford University. He excels in various writing forms, including articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As a valued author at MyEssayWriter.ai, Caleb assists students and professionals by providing practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style enhancement.

Caleb S. is an accomplished author with over five years of experience and a Master's degree from Oxford University. He excels in various writing forms, including articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As a valued author at MyEssayWriter.ai, Caleb assists students and professionals by providing practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style enhancement.

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