Abstract Nouns

What are Abstract Nouns?

Abstract nouns signify things that are impossible for us to perceive with the 5 senses.  These are nouns that are described as intangible or immaterial, which means we can’t hear, see, smell, taste, or touch them. They represent ideas and qualities that lack physical forms.

Let’s look at the following examples:

  • Tae Hyung has shown great determination during the tryouts.
  • They’ve known each other for 4 decades. Their friendship is truly remarkable. 
  • Satu’s enthusiasm for a software overhaul is quite infectious.
  • What kind of impression did you want to give to your colleagues?
  • I know it was late so I deeply appreciate your consideration.

Abstract nouns can be classified in various ways, but to avoid repetition, abstract nouns may fall into the following groups:

  • Human Qualities – dedication, sanity, beauty, honesty, intelligence, bravery, strength, jealousy, brilliance, calmness, sympathy, compassion, wisdom, patience, confidence, stupidity, honor, sophistication, wit, goodness
  • Emotions and Feelings – love, hatred, envy, despair, sorrow, hope, anger, delight, excitement, grief, surprise, worry, regret, fascination, tiredness, pleasure, relief, misery, satisfaction, amazement
  • Concepts and Ideas – adventure, loss, mercy, communication, knowledge, imagination, dictatorship, faith, opportunity, forgiveness, idea, fragility, liberty, motivation, justice, luxury, necessity, peace, reality, parenthood

Abstract nouns are usually studied in contrast to concrete nouns. Concrete nouns represent nouns that can be perceived by the 5 senses. Cars, butterflies, pizza, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, wands, and so on.

Abstract Nouns Rules

Study the table below for some rules for using concrete nouns:

Basic GrammarAbstract nouns follow the same rules that general nouns have such as subject-verb agreement and pluralization rules. Additionally, they can be in possessive forms such as friendship’s length, or compound nouns like lovesickness.
Abstract Nouns and VerbsA few abstract nouns, especially those that indicate emotions, double as verbs. Be mindful of how you use them in sentences or how sentences from books use them. For example:

– I have a strong fear of snakes.
– They fear missing the train.

In the first sentence, fear is an abstract noun meaning “the state of being afraid of something.” In the second sentence, fear is a verb that means “be scared of.”
SuffixesMost abstract nouns are derived from other parts of speech such as verbs, adjectives, and other nouns, and are formed by adding suffixes: -ness, -hood, -ment, -tion, -ship, -ty, -age, -acy, -ence etc. For example:

From verbs:

agree – agreement
satisfy – satisfaction
educate – education

From adjectives:

lazy – laziness
beautiful – beauty
good – goodness

From nouns: 

child – childhood
friend – friendship
owner – ownership
Table of Rules for Abstract Nouns

3 Types of Abstract Nouns Examples

The entire list of abstract nouns is extensive. They refer to qualities, feelings, states of being, and characteristics. The following are examples of abstract nouns in sentences, grouped into 3 main ideas:

1. Human Qualities

  • Liam’s scientific curiosity has always been there since he was a kid.
  • My friends have done pretty well in life but they never treated me with any ego.
  • When will Katrina develop the courage to stand up for herself?
  • Samsoon takes his sense of determination after his dad.
  • We need candidates who show enthusiasm for teamwork and mutual support.

2. Emotions and Feelings

  • Young-hwan’s disbelief at the magician’s routine was apparent in his expression.
  • Rainy weather always fills me with a strange kind of sadness.
  • It’s not unusual to feel a level of uncertainty after you graduate.
  • Alexis and his parents must be beaming with pride when he received a scholarship.
  • Luka feels defeated so you’d do well to hide your disappointment about his score.

3. Concepts and Ideas

  • Kugaha’s latest installation is marvelous. How does a person achieve such artistry?
  • Tony has seen his share of evil after ten years of working in the force.
  • Unemployment is on the rise but I wonder if it’s because people are choosy.
  • The truth is, Uriel wanted to study music but he opted for an industry that pays well.
  • Many English Club members saw a vast improvement in their grades at school.
lillypad language learning app big box

Abstract Nouns Exercises with Answers

Exercise on Abstract Nouns

Identify whether the underlined noun in each sentence is abstract or concrete:

1. His family has run a business making custom signs for over 9 years.

2. We thank the foundation for such generosity in our outreach programs.

3. One of the issues plaguing the city is squalor in two of its districts.

4. Several hospitals in the region had built dormitories for front liners.

5. They say the opposite, but I think favoritism exists in families.

6. Are these the native dances that we should be doing research on?

7. There are some horror stories going around about the old hotel.

8. Ultimately, Kendra’s logic skills led her team to victory on the challenge.

9. You would think that parenthood is easy, but it’s extremely difficult.

10. I think I sprained some fingers after cutting so much wood.

11. Were there a lot of children at the park today?

12. Willem used to make colorful paper airplanes to sell to his classmates.

13. The law should champion the defenseless, but it doesn’t seem like it.

14. Won’t you show me some mercy and not give me a ticket? Please?

15. Shaylene wanted to use a specific design of bricks for the pathway.

16. His fascination for anatomy has been misunderstood as a dark side.

17. Luigi bought too many bottles of water so they started giving them out.

18. How much information can you gather after a weekend of interviews?

19. There is a great need for more sustainable practices in the fishing industry.

20. Will we have time to visit a few temples at least? I want to take photos.


1. signs: concrete

2. generosity: abstract

3. squalor: abstract

4. hospitals: concrete

5. favoritism: abstract

6. dances: concrete

7. stories: concrete

8. redemption: abstract

9. victory: abstract

10. fingers: concrete

11. children: concrete

12. airplanes: concrete

13. law: abstract

14: mercy: abstract

15: bricks: concrete

16. fascination: abstract

17. bottles: concrete

18. knowledge: abstract

19. need: abstract

20. temples: concrete

lillypad english learning app banner

Abstract Nouns List

The following table is a list of more abstract nouns:

Human QualitiesEmotions and FeelingsConcepts and Ideas
Table of Abstract Nouns Listed According to Type

Advice for ESL Students & English Language Learners

Nouns are considered the main part of speech in English grammar. They comprise the names of everything in existence, after all. But because of their volume, mastering the different types, rules, and overlapping concepts of nouns can be a huge challenge to English language learners. However, there are a few things that can make language studies a bit easier, not only with nouns but with all the other grammar subjects in the English language, too. The following advice serves that purpose. Read along and consider following them to aid with achieving your language goals.

1. Use Grammar Lists

There are fewer grammar tools that can function as effectively as lists, tables, charts, and diagrams. These tools are valuable in introducing grammar concepts and breaking them down into simplified segments. They can make topics much easier to grasp and almost always contain real-world sentence examples that are great for the acquisition of new workable vocabulary and the construction of sentences. The challenge is picking the ones that work for you. If you can’t find any, you can make your own and customize it according to your own study habits and preferences.

2. Use Audio-Visual Resources

Traditional classes aren’t enough for learning a language. Independent learning should go hand in hand with formal academic training. Since self-studying is a necessity, a great way to maximize it is to learn with the right resources. One effective and smart way to do so is to ensure that you have ample exposure to English media. Incorporating audio-visual materials is both an educational and entertaining way to achieve fluency. TV shows, films, podcasts, dedicated instructional videos, interactive learning software like LillyPad.ai, social media clips, and so on can show you how English speakers (native or otherwise) use the language in different professional, academic, and social contexts. You only need to consume these tools with purpose, which means taking content in with the intention of learning elements of the language. It can go a long way to add some punch to your aptitude.

3. Practical Use

Teachers from all branches of study would share the adage “theory means nothing without practice.” This is especially true when you’re learning languages. Your teachers are simply your guides; they won’t be there to speak or write English for you. The most efficient way to improve your level is to use the language as often as possible. It isn’t uncommon for someone who has impeccable grammar to be horrible at speaking or verbal communication. It’s likely because a major part of their studies is spent on books, not in actual interaction. While it’s true that most English language learners don’t live in areas where English is spoken all the time, there’s always a way to create your own learning environment. You can organize study groups or English clubs with same-minded people. You can nurture friendships both with native and non-native speakers alike. Not only will you have the avenue for practicing English, you can also develop your social and cultural intelligence.

Additionally, it is important for learners to properly understand concrete nouns and common and proper nouns.

lillypad english language software CTA

Common Errors Made by English Learners

Errors in concrete nouns are rooted in any of the three factors below. Study the table in order to avoid making the same errors:

Tips to Avoid ErrorsExplanation
Verify if the words are sensoryThe word “intangible” means to have no physical presence. Any nouns with this quality are abstract nouns. They can’t be grasped or perceived by any of the five senses.
Differentiate countable from uncountableFundamentally, abstract nouns that are used in a general sense are uncountable. Meanwhile, abstract nouns meant to specify individual parts or a variety of types are considered countable. Let’s look at the following sentences:

Theory is nothing without practice.
– Some theories are nothing without practice.

In the first sentence, the wordtheoryis used to represent all theories, without distinction. In the second sentence, the speaker or writer is thinking about a number of theories, but not necessarily all of them.
Be aware of abstract nouns that can be proper nounsProper nouns are very rarely abstract. Most proper nouns indicate specificity and are, by default, tangible. However, some concepts are taken from proper nouns such as Confucianism, Marxism (from Karl Marx), Buddhism, etc. These aren’t concrete nouns but are derived from people who created or influenced ideologies. Make sure you capitalize them properly.
Abstract Nouns Common Errors Table

Learning Strategies and Best Practices with Abstract Nouns

The best way to master concrete nouns is to remember 3 simple things. Let’s take a look at the following list:

  1. The five senses are sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. Nouns that refer to these are sensory words and are therefore concrete.
  2. If a noun can’t be sensed physically, it’s an abstract noun. “Concept” nouns are all abstract. Most nouns that describe emotions are abstract. You can’t experience it with the senses, but rather experience it in thought or idea.
  3. Concrete and abstract nouns go hand in hand. We can understand abstract nouns better by adding concrete or sensory qualities to them. Concrete nouns illustrate abstract nouns further.

Abstract Nouns Frequently Asked Questions

Try to figure out the verbs from which these abstract nouns are taken:

1. blockade
2. movement
3. consciousness
4. appointment
5. resistance
6. reflection
7. perception
8. disappearance
9. enjoyment
10. hatred

Try to figure out the adjectives from which these abstract nouns are taken:

1. fragility
2. happiness
3. sincerity
4. gentleness
5. impossibility
6. freedom
7. madness
8. silence
9. dependence
10. responsibility

Abstract nouns are nouns that cannot be grasped by the five senses. This classification is comprised of ideas, emotions, or concepts. If you hate someone, it’s easy to see from your behavior: unreceptive, aloof, or blatantly dismissive. But you can’t actually see the word “hate.” Hate is considered an abstract noun.

No. It’s possible to quantify abstract nouns as long as you confirm that they are countable. For example, the word “skill” refers to a person’s ability to do something, but the word itself can’t actually be seen. It is an abstract noun.

When used generally, it is an uncountable noun. “Bob has skill,” for example. But when used to indicate different kinds of skills it is countable. “Bob has lots of amazing skills.”

All sensory nouns are concrete. A “chair” is a thing you can touch and see, and in some instances even smell or taste if you want to.

You can even hear it if someone hits or throws it. This makes the word a concrete noun. But ideas, emotions, and beliefs don’t have physical forms. Love, Christianity, law, and so on are examples of such and are considered abstract.

lillypad english language software CTA

Learn from History – Follow the Science – Listen to the Experts

For learners of all ages striving to improve their English, LillyPad combines the most scientifically studied and recommended path to achieving English fluency and proficiency with today’s most brilliant technologies!

What’s the one thing that makes LillyPad so special? Lilly! Lilly’s a personal English tutor, and has people talking all over the world! Lilly makes improving your English easy. With Lilly, you can read in four different ways, and you can read just about anything you love. And learning with Lilly, well that’s what you call liberating!

Additionally, the platform incorporates goal-setting capabilities, essential tracking & reporting, gamification, anywhere-anytime convenience, and significant cost savings compared to traditional tutoring methodologies.

At LillyPad, everything we do is focused on delivering a personalized journey that is meaningful and life-changing for our members. LillyPad isn’t just the next chapter in English learning…

…it’s a whole new story!

Do you want to improve your English? Visit www.lillypad.ai.

Follow us on Facebook or Instagram!

lillypad english learning app icon