Abstract Noun | Lesson with Examples

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What is an abstract noun?

An abstract noun refers to an emotion, state, concept, quality, or an idea. It speaks of things that cannot be experienced by the five senses.

Examples:

love
beauty
fear
hope
trust
warmth
affection
optimism
delight
excitement

Types of abstract nouns

Abstract nouns express intangible concepts like feelings, emotions, events, qualities, states, concepts, ideas, or characteristics of physical objects.

Types
Examples
feelings
stress, fear, warmth
emotions
love, hate, anger
events
holiday, birthday, vacation
qualities
beauty, intelligence, honesty
states
chaos, luxury, peace
concepts
faith, motivation, comfort
ideas
knowledge, wisdom, sacrifice
characteristics of physical objects
speed, loudness, symmetry

Click on the circles to spot the six abstract nouns

like
sympathy
beautiful
joy
peace
free
childhood
honesty
grief
kind
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Adding suffixes to make an abstract noun

Abstract nouns are formed by adding suffixes to words. Here's a handy list of such suffixes that we generally see in abstract nouns.

Suffixes
Examples
-ness
greatness, happiness
-ure
pleasure, closure
-ty
safety, novelty
-th
warmth, growth
-ment
enjoyment, movement
-ity
creativity, ability
-age
marriage, shortage
-dom
freedom, boredom
-ism
heroism, patriotism
-ship
friendship, hardship

Making abstract nouns from adjectives, verbs, and common nouns

Did you know that abstract nouns can be derived from adjectives? The suffixes -ness, -ity, -dom, and -y in the following examples are added to the adjectives to make abstract nouns.

Adjectives
Abstract Nouns
happy
happiness
punctual
punctuality
wise
wisdom
generous
generosity
difficult
difficulty

Abstract nouns can also be formed by modifying verbs. The suffixes -ion, -ior, -th, -ment, and -ance in the following examples are added to the verbs to make abstract nouns.

Verbs
Abstract Nouns
act
action
behave
behavior
grow
growth
employ
employment
appear
appearance

Common nouns can also help make abstract nouns. Friend, brother, leader, member, scholar are common nouns, adding suffixes like -ship and -hood make them abstract nouns.

Common nouns
Abstract Nouns
friend
friendship
brother
brotherhood
leader
leadership
member
membership
scholar
scholarship

Abstract nouns vs Concrete nouns

While we can experience concrete nouns physically by seeing, smelling, tasting, hearing, or touching them, we can only feel or conceptualize abstract nouns.

Example:

"Wisdom" is an abstract noun that cannot be experienced by any of the five senses, while "rainbow" is a concrete noun because it can be seen.

Using articles with an abstract noun

  • Since most abstract nouns are uncountable, it's not a good idea to use articles with them.

    Example:

    Education changes the way people think.

  • However, we use "the" with abstract nouns when we want to specify them.

    Example:

    The intelligence that Cart displayed in today's class was amazing.

  • We use "a/an" with abstract nouns while defining them, or making clear what type of idea we are referring to.

    Examples:

    Christopher has an amazing knowledge of German.

    Contrary to what we had expected, the movie was a big disappointment.


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Sample Worksheets

Bolster your skills using our free printable worksheets on Abstract Nouns.