What is an abstract noun? | Definition with Examples
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- Abstract Nouns
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.
Abstract nouns express intangible concepts like feelings, emotions, events, qualities, states, concepts, ideas, or characteristics of physical objects.
Click on the circles to spot the six abstract nouns
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
Education changes the way people think.
However, we use "the" with abstract nouns when we want to specify them.
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.
Christopher has an amazing knowledge of German.
Contrary to what we had expected, the movie was a big disappointment.
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