An abstract noun is an intangible concept that adds depth and richness to our English language. Among them are words like love, courage, happiness, and peace, which hold significant meaning and are vital for effective communication. In this post, learn about abstract nouns, understand their usage in different contexts, and their formation with examples.
What is an Abstract Noun in English?
An abstract noun is a type of noun that refers to concepts, ideas, emotions, qualities, or states that cannot be physically perceived through the senses. They are intangible and do not have a physical form. Abstract nouns represent things that exist in the mind or are perceived mentally, rather than those that can be seen, touched, smelled, tasted, or heard.
Love – an emotion or feeling of deep affection.
Courage – the quality of being brave or fearless.
Happiness – a state of being happy or content.
Justice – the concept of fairness or equality.
Honesty – the quality of being truthful or sincere.
Freedom – the state of being free or liberated.
Beauty – a quality or characteristic of being aesthetically pleasing.
Wisdom – the state of having knowledge, insight, and good judgment.
Definition of Abstract Noun
An abstract noun is a type of noun that represents concepts, qualities, emotions, or states that cannot be perceived through the senses.
According to Dictionary.com, a noun denoting something immaterial and abstract, such as rest, dread, or transportation, and a noun formed with a suffix that imparts such a meaning, as kindness.
As per Cambridge Dictionary, a noun refers to a thing that does not exist as a material object.
Differences between abstract nouns and concrete nouns?
Here are some key differences between abstract nouns and concrete nouns:
Tangibility: Concrete nouns represent physical objects that can be perceived through the senses, such as objects, animals, plants, or people, whereas abstract nouns represent concepts, emotions, qualities, or states that do not have a physical form and cannot be perceived directly.
Concrete noun: Tree
Abstract noun: Beauty
Perceptibility: Concrete nouns can be directly experienced with the senses, such as seen, touched, smelled, tasted, or heard, while abstract nouns cannot be directly experienced through the senses, as they are intangible and exist in the mind or are perceived mentally.
Concrete noun: Music (can be heard)
Abstract noun: Love (cannot be directly perceived through the senses)
Represented Ideas: Concrete nouns represent specific, tangible objects or things, while abstract nouns represent broader, more general concepts, emotions, qualities, or states.
Concrete noun: Chair
Abstract noun: Happiness
Usage: Concrete nouns are used to refer to physical objects in everyday language, while abstract nouns are used to express ideas, emotions, and concepts that may not have physical manifestations, often in more formal or literary contexts.
Concrete noun: Dog (used in everyday conversation)
Abstract noun: Justice (used in legal or philosophical discussions)
Different types of abstract nouns
Abstract nouns can be categorized into different types based on the nature of the concepts or qualities they represent. Here are some common types of abstract nouns:
Emotions: Abstract nouns that represent emotions or feelings, such as love, anger, joy, sadness, fear, and happiness.
Example: She expressed her love for her family.
Qualities or Characteristics: Abstract nouns that represent qualities, characteristics, or traits, such as beauty, intelligence, honesty, bravery, and patience.
Example: The painting’s beauty captivated the audience.
Concepts or Ideas: Abstract nouns that represent concepts or ideas, such as freedom, justice, democracy, equality, and truth.
Example: The concept of democracy is important in modern society.
States or Conditions: Abstract nouns that represent states, conditions, or situations, such as peace, chaos, success, failure, and confusion.
Example: The country yearns for peace after years of conflict.
Abilities or Skills: Abstract nouns that represent abilities, skills, or talents, such as creativity, leadership, communication, and adaptability.
Example: Her leadership skills were evident in the success of the project.
Time or Space: Abstract nouns that represent time, space, or distance, such as eternity, infinity, moment, and distance.
Example: The concept of infinity is mind-boggling.
Virtues or Morals: Abstract nouns that represent virtues, morals, or values, such as honesty, integrity, compassion, and humility.
Example: He displayed great integrity in his decision-making.
States of Mind: Abstract nouns that represent states of mind, such as happiness, sadness, confusion, and serenity.
Example: Her serenity in the face of adversity was admirable.
How to Identify Abstract Nouns in Sentences?
Identifying abstract nouns in sentences requires an understanding of their characteristics and the context in which they are used. Here are some steps to help you identify abstract nouns in sentences:
Look for words that represent concepts, qualities, emotions, states, or ideas: Abstract nouns often represent intangible concepts, emotions, qualities, states, or ideas. Look for words that name these intangible things, such as love, justice, freedom, honesty, happiness, courage, or wisdom.
Example: “Her generosity touched many hearts.” (Generosity is an abstract noun that represents a quality or trait.)
Consider whether the noun can be perceived through the senses: Abstract nouns cannot be directly experienced with the senses, as they are intangible. Consider whether the noun in question can be seen, touched, smelled, tasted, or heard. If not, it is likely an abstract noun.
Example: “The sound of laughter filled the room.” (Laughter is an abstract noun that represents an emotion or a state.)
Think about the broader concept or idea being expressed: Abstract nouns often represent broader concepts or ideas rather than specific objects or things. Consider the broader concept or idea being expressed in the sentence.
Example: “The pursuit of happiness is a fundamental human right.” (Happiness is an abstract noun that represents a concept or an idea.)
Consider the context and meaning of the word: Abstract nouns can have multiple meanings depending on the context in which they are used. Consider the meaning of the word in the specific sentence and the overall context of the sentence or paragraph to determine if it represents an abstract noun.
Example: “Her face lit up with joy.” (Joy is an abstract noun that represents an emotion.)
Look for clues such as suffixes: Some abstract nouns are formed by adding specific suffixes, such as -ness, -ity, -tion, -ment, or -ism, to base words. Look for such clues in the sentence that may indicate an abstract noun.
Example: “Her kindness towards others is commendable.” (Kindness is an abstract noun formed by adding the suffix -ness to the base word kind.)
How abstract nouns are formed?
Abstract nouns are typically formed in several ways:
Conversion of adjectives
Some abstract nouns are formed by converting adjectives into nouns by adding a suffix. For example:
Happy (adjective) -> Happiness (abstract noun)
Brave (adjective) -> Bravery (abstract noun)
Wise (adjective) -> Wisdom (abstract noun)
Conversion of verbs
Abstract nouns can also be formed by converting verbs into nouns by adding a suffix. For example:
Love (verb) -> Love (abstract noun)
Communicate (verb) -> Communication (abstract noun)
Create (verb) -> Creation (abstract noun)
Adding specific suffixes
Abstract nouns can be formed by adding specific suffixes to base words. Common suffixes used to form abstract nouns include:
-ness: represents a state or quality (e.g., happiness, sadness)
-ity: represents a state or quality (e.g., equality, clarity)
-tion/-sion: represents an action or process (e.g., education, decision)
-ment: represents a state or condition (e.g., excitement, improvement)
-ism: represents a belief, doctrine, or system (e.g., capitalism, socialism)
Use of base words
Some abstract nouns are formed without any additional suffixes and are derived directly from base words. For example:
Art (base word) -> Art (abstract noun)
Music (base word) -> Music (abstract noun)
Time (base word) -> Time (abstract noun)
How abstract nouns are used in different contexts?
Here are some examples of how abstract nouns can be used in different contexts:
Emotions and feelings
Abstract nouns are often used to express emotions and feelings. For example:
Love: “He expressed his love for her with a bouquet of roses.”
Happiness: “The children were jumping with happiness after receiving their gifts.”
Anger: “Her anger boiled over and she yelled at him.”
Qualities and traits
Abstract nouns are used to describe qualities, traits, or characteristics of people, things, or situations. For example:
Honesty: “She was admired for her honesty and integrity.”
Courage: “He showed great courage in standing up for what he believed in.”
Beauty: “The sunset over the ocean was a breathtaking display of natural beauty.”
Concepts and ideas
Abstract nouns are used to represent broader concepts, ideas, or principles. For example:
Freedom: “The fight for freedom and equality continues.”
Justice: “The court system is designed to ensure justice for all.”
Democracy: “The principles of democracy are cherished by many.”
States and conditions
Abstract nouns are used to describe states, conditions, or situations. For example:
Peace: “The world longs for peace and harmony.”
Confusion: “There was a sense of confusion in the room after the unexpected announcement.”
Prosperity: “Economic prosperity is the goal of many nations.”
Actions and processes
Abstract nouns are used to represent actions, processes, or activities. For example:
Communication: “Effective communication is essential in building strong relationships.”
Collaboration: “Successful teamwork requires collaboration and cooperation.”
Decision-making: “Good decision-making skills are crucial for success in life.”
Examples of Abstract Nouns
Here are some examples of abstract nouns in different categories:
1. Emotions and Feelings:
2. Qualities and Traits:
3. Concepts and Ideas:
4. States and Conditions:
5. Actions and Processes:
Examples of Abstract Nouns in Sentences
Love: “She felt a deep sense of love for her family.”
Courage: “He showed great courage in standing up for his beliefs.”
Happiness: “The laughter of children brought her immense happiness.”
Honesty: “Her honesty and integrity earned her the respect of her peers.”
Peace: “The diplomats worked tirelessly to negotiate a lasting peace treaty.”
Freedom: “Freedom is a fundamental human right that should be cherished.”
Wisdom: “The elderly woman shared her wisdom gained from years of experience.”
Beauty: “The sunset painted the sky with breathtaking beauty.”
Hope: “Even in the darkest times, hope can provide strength and resilience.”
Patience: “He showed remarkable patience in dealing with a difficult situation.”