What is an abstract noun?

An abstract noun names an intangible concept or a quality that cannot be recognized or experienced using the five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch). Abstract nouns tend to fall under one of the categories of feelings or emotions, states, ideas or concepts, events, and qualities.

What is an abstract noun

Types of abstract nouns
Abstract noun type Examples
Feelings/emotions love, hate, anger, joy
States peace, misery, denial
Ideas/concepts wisdon, knowledge, culture, motivation
Events adventure, childhood, past, present, future
Qualities patience, courage, beauty

Types of abstract nouns

Abstract nouns are one of several different types of nouns in the English language and they can be countable or uncountable nouns.

Many common abstract nouns are made by adding a suffix like -ity, -tion, or -ment to different types of nouns. For example, adding the suffix -hood to the concrete noun “child” creates the abstract concept of “childhood.”

Table of Contents

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  1. Definition
  2. Examples
  3. Abstract Vs. Concrete Nouns

Abstract noun examples

The following sentences incorporate examples of abstract nouns.

Feelings/emotions:

  • A parent's love for their children lasts forever.
  • Keith stopped letting his anger get the best of him.
  • Despite their performance, the team had hope that they'd win the next game.

States:

  • Both countries signed the treaty, ensuring peace well into the future.
  • Her optimism was a breath of fresh air.
  • Maria loved the freedom she received from moving into her own apartment.

Ideas/concepts:

  • Many philosophers believe wisdom is more important than knowledge.
  • Much thought went into the design of the new building.
  • Pam believed her success was due to both luck and skill.

Events:

  • The family will celebrate Eric's birthday this weekend.
  • No one knows what the future might hold.
  • Many people believe childhood is less stressful than adulthood.

Qualities:

  • My brother consistently tests my patience.
  • The archeologist's curiosity led her to a new discovery.
  • Because of the group's generosity, Goodwill was able to help dozens of families.

Abstract vs. concrete nouns

Concrete nouns are people, places, and physical objects that can be experienced and understood through one of the five senses, whereas abstract nouns cannot. If it can be seen, smelled, tasted, heard, or touched, then it is a concrete noun.

Concrete nouns include the following:

  • Common nouns: woman, school, paper
  • Proper nouns: Abraham Lincoln, San Francisco, Microsoft
  • Collective nouns: family, group, team

Abstract vs. concrete nouns

Learn about other English grammar terms like pronouns, adverbs, and synonyms.

What you learned:

After working your way through this lesson and video, you have learned:

  • What an abstract noun is.
  • The different categories or types of abstract nouns
  • How abstract nouns compare to concrete nouns
Instructor: Malcolm M.
Malcolm has a Master's Degree in education and holds four teaching certificates. He has been a public school teacher for 27 years, including 15 years as a mathematics teacher.

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