Definition and Examples of Abstract Nouns
An abstract noun is a naming word that names a cognitive or abstract concept: as, activities, ideas, emotions, virtues, vices, forces, ideologies, religions, attitudes, times, distances, professions or other concepts that do not have an actual physical form.
So they do exist in some sense, but we cannot experience them directly with our senses—they cannot be seen, smelt, tasted, felt, or touched.
The following abstract concepts are all examples of abstract nouns.1. Emotions
- happiness, despair, joy, fear, anger, surprise etc.
- kindness, honestness, courage, respectfulness, compassion, etc.
- fraudulence, procrastination, corruption, rudeness, hatred, pride, etc.
- capitalismOpens in new window, freedom, conservatismOpens in new window, communismOpens in new window, socialismOpens in new window, egalitarianismOpens in new window, democracyOpens in new window etc.
- ChristianityOpens in new window, IslamOpens in new window, HinduismOpens in new window, BuddhismOpens in new window, JudaismOpens in new window, ShintoOpens in new window, etc.
- day, month, year, Defining Seasons (springOpens in new window, summerOpens in new window, autumnOpens in new window, and winterOpens in new window), etc.
- accountancyOpens in new window, carpentaryOpens in new window, medicineOpens in new window, architectureOpens in new window etc.
Countable versus Uncountable Abstract Nouns
Abstract nouns, are a sub-category of common nounsOpens in new window, and can be divided into:
- countable or count nouns, and
- uncountable or mass nouns.
The abstract count nouns, can be made plural, and are usually preceded by an article (a, an, the)Opens in new window or other adjectival qualifiers.
Countable nouns include: idea, religion, challenge, fear, personality, etc. Thus, we can say an idea, great religions, the challenges, two personalities.
Abstract versus Concrete Nouns
In contrast to abstract nouns are the concrete nounsOpens in new window, which name concrete objects that have physical forms.
Abstract nouns, as well as concrete nouns, can be modified by adjectivesOpens in new window, possessivesOpens in new window, demonstrativesOpens in new window, prepositional phrasesOpens in new window and relative clauses, as the following illustrations show:
|Abstract Nouns||Concrete Nouns|
|admirable passion||two mangoes|
|that school||these books|
|Gretchen's brilliance||my car|
|philosophy in Aristotles era||grapes in baskets|
|ingenuity which is typical of scientists||mud which sticks to your boots|