Abstract Nouns: Definition and Usage Made Clear (2023)

Abstract Nouns: Definition and Usage Made Clear (1)

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What does happiness look like? How does anger smell? Can you taste education? Believe it or not, some nouns aren’t accessible with the five senses. These nouns are called abstract nouns — and even though you can’t see, smell, touch, taste, or hear them, they’re still all around you.

What Is an Abstract Noun?

We define abstract nouns as nouns that you can’t directly experience by any of the human senses. These nouns represent an aspect, concept, idea, experience, state of being, trait, quality, or emotion. You may feel them emotionally, but not with your sense of touch.

Examples of abstract nouns that you may not have considered to be nouns (or abstract) include:

  • humor (you can hear laughing, but you can’t see humor)
  • kindness (you can see a person being kind, but not kindness itself)
  • fury (you can hear someone yelling, but you can’t see fury)
  • wisdom (you can read a book, but you can’t see wisdom)
  • memories (you can see photos, but you can’t see memories with your eyes)
  • democracy (you can hear senators debating, but you can’t see democracy)

Abstract nouns are similar to abstract art. They’re both hard to define or explain, but when you see it, you know. The word abstract refers to something that exists apart from concrete existence, which is why the term describes nouns that we can't perceive in a sensory way.

Abstract vs. Concrete Nouns

When you think of a noun, you think of a person, place, thing, or idea. Abstract nouns are ideas, but those first three categories — person, place, and thing — are concrete nouns. You can experience concrete nouns by seeing them, hearing them, touching them, smelling them,or tasting them — unlike abstract nouns.

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Abstract Noun Examples in Sentences

Consider how many emotions, attributes, ideas, and events you talk about, and you may be surprised to find how many abstract nouns appear in your writing and conversation every day.

Abstract Nouns: Definition and Usage Made Clear (2)

Abstract Nouns List Printable 22

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Abstract Nouns for Emotions and Feelings

Abstract nouns are the noun form of emotion adjectives. For example, happiness is the abstract noun form of happy, and misery is the abstract noun form of miserable.

  • She could not hide her disgust.
  • I can't describe my elation after the party.
  • Her excitement is contagious.
  • The toddler screamed with rage when his mother told him “No.”
  • Shawn’s indifference is shocking.
  • Our family felt intense grief after our father died.
  • Getting a goldfish really helped my loneliness after I moved.
  • We were overcome with joy when we heard the wonderful news.

Abstract Nouns for States of Being

Whether a person’s state of being is temporary or permanent, you can describe it with an abstract noun.

  • What is the congressman’s plan for homelessness in the city?
  • Rachel has been in agony since injuring her back.
  • Are you still in a lot of pain?
  • Many citizens suffer from poverty while their neighbors enjoy their wealth.
  • The student stared at the teacher in confusion.
  • We tried to calm the puppy’s fear with soft voices and treats.
  • After the dogs got out of the yard, it was pure chaos.
  • Drink some water to quench your thirst.
  • I think I’m still in denial about getting accepted to college.

Abstract Nouns for Personality Traits

You can use abstract nouns to describe a person’s personality traits or states of mind.

  • Maya approached the job interview with determination.
  • My grandmother’s compassion helped me through many difficult times.
  • Our team has been in a state of confusion since the office manager resigned.
  • Tyler felt a sense of optimism when he left the beach.
  • Laura’s pessimism often makes her friends feel uncomfortable.
  • It takes a lot of courage to stand up to a bully.
  • Patty shows empathy by listening to her friends.
  • Once an employee shows signs of dishonesty, it may be time for them to leave.
  • The girls showed integrity by telling their teacher the truth.
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Abstract Nouns for Ideas and Concepts

Abstract nouns can also represent various concepts or ideas.

  • There is great camaraderie among the team.
  • I greatly appreciate the hospitality you have shown to me.
  • This issue needs to be handled with great sensitivity.
  • Everyone deserves a bit of leisure.
  • Where did you receive your education?
  • Even if you don’t agree, you must respect others’ beliefs.
  • Cheri really understands fashion; that’s why she’s so trendy.
  • Hans and I ended our relationship last Monday.

Abstract Nouns for Events and Experiences

Abstract nouns can name events, experiences, and movements from different time periods.

  • What are your goals for the future?
  • Qualifying for the Olympics is an incredible moment in an athlete's life.
  • That was quite a performance she put on.
  • After my uncle’s death, our family didn’t talk as much.
  • I spent my childhood in Greece and Italy.
  • We’re celebrating our anniversary later in the spring.
  • Did you get a promotion?
  • This will be the most important battle of the war.

Different Types of Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns can also be othertypes of nouns. Although abstract nouns are always common nouns (as in war), they might appear in the names of proper nouns (as in the Civil War).

Depending on the noun, they can also be:

(Video) Understand Abstract Nouns in English!

  • singular nouns (as in charity or wealth)
  • plural nouns (as in morals or thoughts)
  • countable nouns (as in governments or laws)
  • uncountable nouns (as in hesitation or power)

Forming Abstract Nouns Using Suffixes

You can create many abstract nouns by adding a suffix or making another alteration to a root word (which could be a concrete noun).

For example, the word adult is a concrete noun. However, adulthood is an intangible state, so that word is an abstract noun. Additional examples include:

  • -acy - adequacy; bureaucracy
  • -ance - defiance; intolerance
  • -ism - favoritism; racism
  • -ity - civility; variability
  • -ment - ailment; argument
  • -ness - fitness; fondness
  • -ence - deference; violence
  • -ship - kinship; scholarship
  • -tion - coalition; devotion
  • - ty - certainty; unity

Recognizing When a Noun Is Abstract

It can be difficult to recognize when a noun is abstract because there are so many words that can function as different parts of speech. The words love and taste, for example, can be verbs or abstract nouns, depending on the sentence.

  • I love my husband. (Love functions as a verb)
  • Send them my love. (Love functions as an abstract noun)
  • Do you taste cilantro in the salsa? (Taste functions as a verb)
  • You have great taste in clothes. (Taste functions as an abstract noun)

Keep in mind that when a word represents an action, it is a verb. When a word represents a person, place, thing, concept, or idea, it's a noun. If youcan't directly perceive it, then it's an abstract noun.

Tips for Keeping Concrete and Abstract Nouns Straight

Sometimes an abstract noun really does seem concrete. Take destruction, for example — when you envision broken buildings, crashed cars, burning fires, and clouds of smoke, it really seems like you can see destruction.

(Video) What is Abstract Noun | Abstract noun - definition with examples

However, destruction is simply the abstract noun that describes a state of being. You’re not seeing destruction; you’re seeing all those concrete nouns (buildings, cars, fires, smoke) and describing them with the abstract noun destruction.

If the difference between concrete and abstract nouns still confuses you, consider these helpful tips.

  • Can you buy it from a store?
  • Can you make it in an oven?
  • Can you take a picture of it?
  • Can you describe how it smells?
  • Can you put it in a box?
  • Can you watch it in a movie?

If the answer is “no” to these questions, congratulations — you’ve got an abstract noun!


What is the abstract noun for clear? ›

Clarity and clearness are the two abstract nouns of the verb, clear. Clearance is the noun for the meaning clearing out something.

What is an abstract noun simple definition? ›

An abstract noun is defined as 'a noun, for example, beauty or freedom, that refers to an idea or a general quality, not to a physical object', according to the Oxford Learners Dictionary. According to Collins Dictionary, 'an abstract noun refers to a quality or idea rather than to a physical object.

What is the use of abstract noun? ›

Abstract nouns represent intangible ideas—things you can't perceive with the five main senses. Words like love, time, beauty, and science are all abstract nouns because you can't touch them or see them.

What are 20 examples of abstract nouns? ›

Abstract Noun Examples
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How do you use clear as a noun? ›

noun. The jury's decision was that he was in the clear.

What type of word is clear? ›

adjective, clear·er, clear·est. free from darkness, obscurity, or cloudiness; light: a clear day. transparent; pellucid: clear water.

What is abstract definition and example? ›

: relating to or involving general ideas or qualities rather than specific people, objects, or actions. abstract thinking. abstract ideas/concepts such as love and hate. “Honesty” is an abstract word. The word “poem” is concrete, the word “poetry” is abstract.

What is abstract noun with example sentences? ›

Like other nouns, abstract nouns can be used as the subject or object in a sentence. For example, the word anger is an abstract noun used as the subject of the following sentence: Anger is a not a productive response to criticism.

What are 10 abstract nouns? ›

Abstract noun- Beauty, goodness, old-age, childhood, honesty, truth, wisdom, bravery, sadness, happiness, etc.

What is abstract noun Class 7 Example? ›

It is sometimes helpful to think of an abstract noun as a word that names something that you cannot see, hear, touch, smell, or taste (i.e., something you cannot perceive with one of your five senses). For example: Consideration. Parenthood.

What is noun and its uses? ›

A noun is a word that names something, such as a person, place, thing, or idea. In a sentence, nouns can play the role of subject, direct object, indirect object, subject complement, object complement, appositive, or adjective.

Can you list 10 abstract nouns? ›

Abstract nouns refer to intangible things, like feelings, ideas, concepts, and qualities. Love, curiosity, grief, chaos, and friendship are all abstract nouns.
Abstract Nouns That Show Human Qualities.
16 more rows

How are abstract nouns formed? ›

Abstract nouns may be formed from adjectives by adding the suffix -ness: happy/ happiness, sad/sadness, kind/kindness, cheerful/cheerfulness. However, a large group of adjectives have distinct nouns that do not require a formation with -ness or any other suffix.

What word means made clear? ›

explain; make explicit; make clear. make clear; make clearer; elucidate; illustrate; explain; correct; visualize; visualise.

What is the definition of to make clear? ›

Definition of 'to make sth clear'

If you make something clear, you say something in a way that makes it impossible for there to be any doubt about your meaning, wishes, or intentions. Mr. O'Friel made it clear that further insults of this kind would not be tolerated.

What word means make clear? ›

Some common synonyms of explain are elucidate, explicate, expound, and interpret. While all these words mean "to make something clear or understandable," explain implies a making plain or intelligible what is not immediately obvious or entirely known.

What are the forms of Clear? ›

clear ​Definitions and Synonyms ​‌‌‌
present tense
present participleclearing
past tensecleared
past participlecleared
1 more row

What are the three forms of Clear? ›

Clear verb forms
InfinitivePresent ParticiplePast Participle

How do you use abstract in a sentence? ›

We have lost the abstract sense of beauty. Art is always more abstract than we fancy. There was a complicated and incomprehensible schemata of numbers and abstract forms. Daring ambition rather than any merely abstract virtue was the keynote of her character.

What is abstraction give a short definition? ›

Abstraction (from the Latin abs, meaning away from and trahere , meaning to draw) is the process of taking away or removing characteristics from something in order to reduce it to a set of essential characteristics.

Why is it called abstract? ›

As a whole, the word “abstract” conveys the concept of “drawn off from.” It fits both the idea of a scientific abstract, which contains a summary of points drawn from the body of text it precedes, and the idea of an abstract painting, which is often a symbolic representation of the ideas that inspired the artist.

What are the types of abstract noun? ›

More Examples of Abstract Nouns
Emotionsanger, hate, joy, grief, sorrow
Qualitiescourage, patience, determination, generosity, honesty
Conceptscharity, deceit, opportunity, comfort, democracy
Momentsbirthday, childhood, marriage, career, death
2 more rows

What is abstract noun education? ›

The noun 'education' is an abstract noun because it represents a concept instead of a concrete thing. It does not exist inside the physical world. It cannot be physically measured, but rather exists as an abstract idea.

What is abstract in lesson? ›

Abstraction is the act of looking at the big picture. It's stepping back from nitpicky details and thinking of things as a singular object. A computational thinking chapter in the open-source textbook K–12 Technology Integration defines abstraction as problem-solving “[…] by reducing unnecessary detail.”

How do you explain abstract nouns to children? ›

An abstract noun is a feeling or concept that you cannot touch, such as happiness or education.

What is real abstract noun? ›

Answer and Explanation: The abstract noun for real is ''reality.

What is famous in abstract noun? ›

The abstract noun of famous is Fame.

Is money an abstract noun? ›

The worth of that money, is defined in your mind. It exists no where else, hence money is kind of abstract since it's worth is only in the mind.

Is birthday an abstract noun? ›

Birthday and October are abstract nouns.

What is action in abstract noun? ›

Action – laughter, theft, movement, judgment. State – childhood, boyhood, manhood, youth, slavery, sickness, poverty, death, sleep.

What are the 8 Uses of nouns? ›

Functions of Noun
  • Subject of the Sentence.
  • Direct Object of the Verb.
  • Indirect Object.
  • Subject Complement.
  • Object of Preposition.
  • Predicate Nominatives.
  • Object Complement.
  • Appositive.

How a noun is used in a sentence? ›

A noun can be used as the subject of a sentence, or in another capacity as an object: John is nice. – John is the subject of the sentence. I saw John – John is the simple (direct) object of the sentence.

What is the noun of use? ›

noun. ˈyüs. : the act or practice of employing something : employment, application. he made good use of his spare time. : the fact or state of being used.

What is the abstract noun of beautiful? ›

The abstract noun of the word ”Beautiful” is ”beauty”.

What are abstract nouns PDF? ›

An abstract noun is one which is used to mean an idea, experience or quality rather than an object. This happiness, intention and shock are abstract nouns whereas, for example, pen, bed and trousers.

Is happy an abstract noun? ›

For example, the adjective “happy” becomes the abstract noun “happiness.” Suffixes that form abstract nouns may include “-ness,” “-ity,” “-ion.” Concrete and abstract nouns: Some nouns can be viewed as abstract or concrete.

Is an abstract 150 words? ›

An abstract is a 150- to 250-word paragraph that provides readers with a quick overview of your essay or report and its organization. It should express your thesis (or central idea) and your key points; it should also suggest any implications or applications of the research you discuss in the paper.

Can an abstract be 70 words? ›

2) A typical abstract should only be about 6 sentences long or 150 words or less.

What do abstract nouns end with? ›

Listen to the nouns/adjectives on the left and the abstract nouns in italics on the right and repeat. Listen carefully to how the suffixes are pronounced. Notice that the stress is on the same syllable in each and that the suffixes all contain schwa.

Is truth an abstract noun? ›

'Truth' is an abstract noun as it is a quality which is not tangible.

What is abstract strong noun? ›

The abstract noun for strong is option B) strength which is the correct answer.

What is the adjective for clear? ›

adjective. /klɪr/ (clearer, clearest) without confusion/doubt. easy to understand and not causing any confusion She gave me clear and precise directions.

What is the adverb for clear? ›

clear adjective (≠ unclear) clearly adverb. clarity noun.

What does the noun all clear mean? ›

noun [ S ] /ˌɔːlˈklɪər/ us. /ˌɑːlˈklɪr/ a signal that tells you that a dangerous or difficult situation has ended: The police gave us the all-clear and we drove on.

How do you use the word clear in a sentence? ›

"She was extremely clear about who she wanted to invite." "It was not entirely clear what he wanted from us." "Her explanations were relatively clear." "It was painfully clear to everyone that she was not happy."

Is that clear meaning? ›

: Do you understand? The work needs to be finished by this afternoon. Is that clear?


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