Abstract Noun

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.

Generally, the things referred to by abstract nouns are those things we can practically talk about.

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 2.    Virtues
3.    Vices 4.    Ideologies 5.    Religion
6.     Times 7.     Profession 8.     Distances

Countable versus Uncountable Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns, are a sub-category of common nounsOpens in new window, and can be divided into:

  1. countable or count nouns, and
  2. 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 NounsConcrete Nouns
admirable passiontwo mangoes
that schoolthese books
Gretchen's brilliancemy car
philosophy in Aristotles eragrapes in baskets
ingenuity which is typical of scientistsmud which sticks to your boots