Have you ever noticed the odd words in English that don't describe physical things? These words could be feelings, emotions, ideas, or qualities. These words are called abstract nouns and we use them all the time without even knowing it. In this reference, you'll learn all about what an abstract noun is and how to use it properly in English!
What is an abstract noun
Abstract noun definition: "a word used to describe an idea, emotion, or feeling that cannot be experienced with the five senses." Abstract nouns are not tangible and cannot be touched, seen, smelled, tasted, or heard. These words are often used to describe intangible things that hold more meaning than just their physical counterparts.
Abstract nouns can be difficult to define and identify, as they are often subjective. However, they are an important part of the English language and are used to express complex ideas and feelings.
Abstract nouns are typically identified by the suffixes -tion, -ness, -ity, -ment, and -ance. Abstract nouns can also be identified by the prefixes “un-”, “non-”, “in-”, and “im-”.
Types of abstract nouns
We can separate abstract nouns into three separate categories:
Ideas: these are abstract nouns that refer to concepts, such as "freedom," "democracy," "education," and "knowledge." They often refer to a state of being or even a way of life.
Qualities: these are abstract nouns that refer to qualities, such as "beauty," "strength," "courage," and "patience." They help us describe a person or thing in more detail.
Feelings: these are abstract nouns that refer to feelings or emotions, such as "joy," "anger," "sadness," and "love." They help us express how we feel about something or someone.
List of abstract nouns
Here is a list of abstract noun examples for you to add to your vocabulary:
How to use abstract nouns in sentences
Abstract nouns can be used in both spoken and written English. To use abstract nouns effectively, here are a few tips:
- Use abstract nouns to express complex emotions and ideas.
- Make sure your abstract nouns are specific and appropriate for the context.
- Avoid using too many abstract nouns in the same sentence.
- Use concrete nouns to help define and clarify the abstract noun.
For example, if you wanted to express the concept of courage, you could say:
"He showed remarkable courage in the face of danger.''
Here, the abstract noun “courage” is used to describe the concrete noun “danger”.
Common abstract noun mistakes
When using abstract nouns, it is important to be specific and accurate. Here are some common mistakes to avoid with abstract nouns:
- Using abstract nouns that don’t fit the context.
- Overusing abstract nouns.
- Using abstract nouns to describe physical objects.
- Using abstract nouns to describe people.
- Using abstract nouns that are too vague.
For example, if you wanted to describe someone’s personality, you wouldn’t say:
“He has an amazing quality.”
This is too vague and doesn’t provide any concrete information. Instead, you could say: “He is incredibly resilient" to sound more natural and efficient.
Abstract nouns are words used to describe intangible things such as emotions, ideas, and feelings. These words are often used to express complex ideas and are identified by the suffixes -tion, -ness, -ity, -ment, and -ance.
Abstract nouns can be used in both spoken and written English, but it’s important to be specific and accurate when using them. Remember to avoid common mistakes such as using abstract nouns that don’t fit the context or are too vague. With practice, you can become an expert at using abstract nouns in English!