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 Grammar||Abstract 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 Verbs||A 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.”
|Suffixes||Most 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:|
agree – agreement
satisfy – satisfaction
educate – education
lazy – laziness
beautiful – beauty
good – goodness
child – childhood
friend – friendship
owner – ownership
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.
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
Abstract Nouns List
The following table is a list of more abstract nouns:
|Human Qualities||Emotions and Feelings||Concepts and Ideas|
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.
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 Errors||Explanation|
|Verify if the words are sensory||The 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 uncountable||Fundamentally, 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 word “theory” is 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 nouns||Proper 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.|
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:
- The five senses are sight, smell, touch, taste, and hearing. Nouns that refer to these are sensory words and are therefore concrete.
- 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.
- 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
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