Abstract Noun – Examples & Rules

Nouns are a priority in English grammar. We use nouns every day, and every time, even when we don’t realize it.

Nouns are a general representation of a class of people, objects, or animals. It can be both a living and a non-living thing. However, it is important to know that nouns can be classified in several ways. One of them is concrete and abstract nouns.

Today we will focus on abstract nouns and learn their usage. In a general sense, abstract nouns are nouns that represent things that do not physically exist. Let us discuss further to know its rules and concept.

Abstract nouns: definition and usage

Abstract nouns are generally words used to represent something that does not actually exist. They are things that can neither be seen nor touched. They have no actual representation in the physical world.

In short, abstract nouns are nouns that represent ideas, traits, emotions, or any concepts that are philosophical in nature.

Let us look at some examples;

  • Love, hate, happiness, anger
  • Life, trust, pain, pleasure
  • Democracy, capitalism, socialism

We see these things do not have a physical body. They are just abstract concepts. That is exactly why they are called abstract nouns.

Difference between abstract noun and concrete noun

To make it easier and clearer, let us learn how to recognize an abstract noun and differentiate it from the other classification, namely concrete noun.

When we use abstract nouns, we deal with things we cannot see, touch, smell, or hear. They are things you can only imagine or are abstract in nature. Now, if you refer to something that has a physical body that can be touched or seen, that thing can be in no way an abstract noun. And we need to realize that those are concrete nouns.

Let us make it easier with some examples;

I am angry because he broke my glass.

Here, we have two words that we need to focus on. The first word angry, cannot be touched, seen, or heard. So we know it’s an abstract noun. When we talk about glass, we can see it and touch it. Which means it’s a concrete noun.

Another example can be with a proper noun. When we are talking about an ideology given by a leader. For instance, non-violence by Gandhi. Here, Gandhi is a proper noun. But non-violence is an abstract noun. Proper nouns can never be abstract nouns.

Use of Abstract nouns

We generally use abstract nouns to deliver our emotions and ideas. One important thing to note is the countable and uncountable use of abstract nouns. Abstract nouns can be both, but that depends on the situation.

If we refer to something basic and broad, abstract nouns will always be uncountable.

Some basic examples with sentences;

  • I was so happy to see him.
  • You have to be loyal.

But if we are referring to something specific, abstract nouns can be countable. It is then put to use with articles a, an, and the.

For example;

  • I know about a success story that I can refer to.
  • The time I had was not enough.
  • A happy man is a successful man.

So we see it is quite simple to recognize what is an abstract noun. However, it can get tricky if you do not follow the rules.

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