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Abstract Noun in English Grammar

Comprehensive Definition, Description, Examples & Rules 

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What is an abstract noun?

An abstract noun refers to intangible concepts, ideas, and emotions rather than physical objects. We are unable to touch, see, hear, smell, or taste them. It is a type of noun. It refers to concepts or ideas rather than physical objects. 

We cannot perceive these nouns directly through our five senses. They represent non-physical things such as emotions, qualities, or states of being. Examples of abstract nouns include love, courage, happiness, and honesty. If you are still confused, then keep reading through; we have given our best to explain in simple words. 

 Abstract nouns are an essential aspect of English grammar, as –  

  • Abstract nouns are used to describe feelings, qualities, and characteristics that cannot be quantified or measured. 

  • They are an essential part of language and help us express complex thoughts and emotions.

  • Understanding the concept of abstract nouns is important in developing a strong grasp on language and communication.

Abstract noun vs. the concrete noun- what is the difference?

We can classify nouns into two major categories: concrete and abstract. Concrete nouns represent physical objects. Objects that can be seen and touched, such as a table, a book, or a car make up concrete nouns. Now one may ask- what are abstract nouns? 

Abstract nouns, on the other hand, refer to ideas or concepts that cannot be physically perceived, such as love, courage, or justice.

Abstract noun definition and characteristics

Abstract nouns are words that denote non-tangible entities. These nouns are not perceptible by the five senses, namely sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. Essentially, an abstract noun represents a characteristic, a notion, a thought, or conceivably an occurrence. It is a valuable subject to discuss.

Now, let us discuss the characteristics of abstract nouns –

  1. Abstract nouns have no forms.
  2. Our five senses are unable to detect abstract nouns.
  3. Names of various subjects, forms of art, and ideas or concepts are also abstract nouns.
  4. By adding suffixes to an adjective, verb, or common noun, we can form abstract nouns.
  5. Abstract nouns are always singular nouns. They do not have plural forms.

Here are some abstract nouns examples – love, intelligence, knowledge, beauty, hate, modesty, peace, truth, bravery, advice, harmony, courage, honesty, information, discomfort, sympathy, birthday, death, progress, failure, kindness, loyalty, revenge, capability, strength, weakness, joy, anger, etc.

Types of Abstract Nouns and Examples

It is not always easy to determine the types of abstract nouns in English grammar. So the fixed types are blurry to define. But they can be broadly categorised into six categories; such as: Feelings, states, emotions, qualities, concepts, and moments. Feel free to use the comments section if you think we have left something out. Below are the details-


Some abstract nouns can express our feelings. Such abstract nouns are – anxiety, confusion, fear, pain, pleasure, satisfaction, sensitivity, stress, sympathy, warmth, etc.


Some abstract nouns can refer to a state of mind or a state of a place or atmosphere. Such abstract nouns are – being, chaos, freedom, liberty, luxury, misery, nervousness, openness, peace, pessimism, etc. 


There are some abstract nouns in English grammar that express human emotions. Such abstract nouns are – anger, despair, happiness, hate, indifference, joy, grief, love, sadness, sorrow, etc. 


Some abstract nouns are there that we use for expressing various qualities. For example – beauty, brilliance, courage, dedication, determination, generosity, honesty, patience, trust, etc. 


We use some abstract nouns to define various philosophical concepts. Such abstract nouns are – industrialism, casualty, relativity, ethics, capitalism, democracy, etc. 


Some abstract nouns are there that we use for defining some special moments of human lives. Such abstract nouns are – birthday, childhood, marriage, career, death, etc. 

List of Abstract Nouns that are commonly used and examples in sentences

Here is an abstract noun list in alphabetical order and their usage in sentences:

  • Ability – I have the ability to do this work.
  • Adoration – He looked at the baby in adoration.
  • Advantage – He has taken the advantage of being an adult.
  • Adventure – We had a great adventure in Kashmir last year.
  • Amazement – I stared up at the magician in amazement.
  • Beauty – I admire her beauty.
  • Belief – I respect your religious belief.
  • Bravery – She encourages her mother’s bravery.
  • Brilliance – He shows brilliance in mathematics.
  • Brutality – We must not support brutality.
  • Calmness – This place is full of calmness.
  • Chaos – This area is out of chaos.
  • Charity – Charity begins at home. 
  • Childhood – We have great memories of childhood.
  • Death – Her death is really pathetic.
  • Deceit – I am very upset by his deceit.
  • Dedication – I love his dedication to his work. 
  • Defeat – He can’t accept the defeat.
  • Education – Our country has improved a lot in the field of education.
  • Ego – He wants to satisfy his ego.
  • Elegance – She seems to be the epitome of elegance.
  • Evil – We must fight against the evil forces. 
  • Fact – We have come to know the actual fact of this matter. 
  • Failure – Failure is the beginning of success.
  • Fashion – This watch is now in fashion among the youngsters.
  • Fiction – I love reading fiction.
  • Gain – If there is no pain, there will be no gain.
  • Generation – Our generation does not believe in superstitions.
  • Generosity – He is a man of high generosity.
  • Goal – Sujata’s goal in life is to be a doctor.
  • Happiness – Happiness always comes from within. 
  • Honesty – Honesty is the best policy.
  • Infancy – Infancy is the sweetest period of anyone’s life. 
  • Infatuation – It was just an infatuation.
  • Inflation – The government could control the inflation.
  • Intelligence – It was the intelligence of her writing that impressed me. 
  • Irritation – He felt slight irritation on his right eye. 
  • Joy – It was a period of joy.
  • Justice – He must get justice. 
  • Kindness – We must show kindness towards animals.
  • Laughter – Laughter is the best medicine. 
  • Law – We should follow the law of our country. 
  • Liberty – We have restored our liberty.
  • Lie – Never tell a lie. 
  • Life – Variety is the spice of life. 
  • Marriage – After marriage, she will be shifted to Nagaland.
  • Movement – Gandhi’s movement influenced the freedom fighters. 
  • Nap – She took a power nap in the afternoon.
  • Patience – He has lost his patience.
  • Peace – Pigeons are the symbol of peace.
  • Peculiarity – The peculiarity in his nature makes this old man unique. 
  • Reality – We can’t stay out of the reality of the incident. 
  • Relaxation – She really needs relaxation after her hectic schedule.
  • Relief – I got some relief after the examination was over. 
  • Religion – We should respect every religion.
  • Sacrifice – My mother’s sacrifice for our family inspires me. 
  • Satisfaction – I have got enough satisfaction after seeing my marks. 
  • Self-control – You must gain enough self-control.
  • Sensitivity – I was feeling slight sensitivity on my upper teeth. 
  • Talent – Reema has a great talent for singing.
  • Thought – Whatever thought I have about this topic, I will tell you. 
  • Thrill – The movie gave me enough thrill. 
  • Timing – Her sense of timing is really good. 
  • Tiredness – Rony has slept due to extreme tiredness.
  • Uncertainty – There is an uncertainty of his arrival. 
  • Unemployment – Unemployment is the biggest problem of our country. 
  • Union – The union accepted the contract. 
  • Victory – He was very happy for the tremendous victory. 
  • Warmth – This thick candle is creating warmth in this room.
  • Weakness – He can’t walk due to extreme weakness.
  • Wealth – Health is wealth.
  • Weariness – She could not sleep despite her extreme weariness.

Incorrect use of Abstract Nouns in Sentences

People often misuse abstract nouns as concrete nouns. This is incorrect. Because abstract nouns cannot be seen, felt, or touched. They are ideas. To use abstract nouns correctly, we should treat them as adjectives or verbs. Here are some examples of incorrect usage of abstract nouns in sentences –

He has a lot of courage. 

Since “courage” is an abstract noun, it cannot be counted. But in the sentence given above, “courage” is used in a way that makes it countable. So this is a wrong use of abstract nouns. The correct sentence should be – He has courage. 

I will go to bed early tonight to take a beauty sleep. 

“Beauty sleep” or sleep is an abstract noun. So we cannot count it. That’s why we cannot use “a” before “beauty sleep”. The correct sentence will be – I will go to bed early tonight to take beauty sleep.

She has a lot of happiness.

“Happiness” is an abstract noun and so it cannot be counted. So the correct sentence will be – She has happiness. 

How to Identify Abstract Nouns

What is an abstract noun? When you can see, hear, taste, smell, or touch a noun, it is a concrete noun. But when you cannot, it is definitely an abstract noun. For example, you can touch a chair or see a chair, but you cannot touch or see anger. So while the chair is a concrete noun, anger is an abstract noun. 

Now look at these examples and try to identify the abstract nouns yourself – 

  1. I love the way she sings.
  2. Honesty is the best policy.
  3. What do you think about his idea?
  4. Friendship is priceless.
  5. Truthfulness is always appreciated.
  6. He was testing my patience.
  7. Brevity is the soul of wit.
  8. Pride goes before a fall.
  9. This place has a pleasant ambience.
  10. There is no possibility for you to pass the examination.

In various global English tests, you will get questions on abstract nouns. Such tests include PTE, IELTS, etc. So you must know how to define an abstract noun. Here is an example of an abstract noun question from PTE – 

  • Success is always closer to hardworking people. (Which one is an abstract noun?)

So, the correct answer is “success”.

Here is another example of an abstract noun question from the IELTS exam –

  • We do pray to show mercy. (Find out the abstract noun from this sentence.)

The answer is, of course, “mercy”.

Importance of Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns are essential in written communication, despite not being able to convey sensory experiences. They allow us to express important meanings and convey complex ideas. Recognising and using abstract noun examples in sentences is crucial in effective writing.

Abstract noun definition is crucial for our language, too. Because they allow us to convey intricate ideas, emotions, and concepts. Incorporating abstract nouns into our daily English speaking enhances the depth and richness of our language, making our conversations more meaningful and impactful.

abstract words

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Key Takeaways

  1. Abstract nouns are nouns that refer to concepts or ideas rather than physical objects.

  2. We can’t perceive abstract nouns through our five senses.

  3. Abstract nouns are an essential part of English grammar.

  4. They are important for writing and communication.

  5. We can use abstract nouns both as subject and object in a sentence.

  6. Abstract nouns can take possessive forms.

  7. Abstract nouns are important for global English examinations.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Abstract nouns are used to describe abstract emotions or characteristics that escape sensory perception. These nouns are important to express sentiments like love, joy, and sadness.

Can you pluralize abstract nouns?

Yes. For example, concept – concepts, idea – ideas, etc.

What role do abstract nouns play in literary expression?

Abstract nouns are significant components of language, particularly in literature and poetry. They are utilized to generate striking and expressive imagery and are also fundamental in philosophical and scientific discussions, where they aid in describing intricate ideas and concepts.

How can I use abstract nouns to make my writing more descriptive?

Abstract nouns are useful for naming concepts or describing complex ideas in a few words. Without them, terms such as gene mutation, protein expression, and muscle relaxation would require lengthy explanations every time they are used.

Are there any grammar rules I should know about when using abstract nouns?

Abstract nouns can function as both subjects and objects in a sentence. They can be capitalized in the same way as other nouns. They Can also take a possessive form. It’s important to determine whether they are countable or uncountable before deciding whether to use a singular or plural form.

Can abstract nouns be used as the subject of a sentence?

Yes, we can use abstract nouns as the subject of a sentence. For example – Honesty is the best policy.

Can an abstract noun be used as an object in a sentence?

Yes, of course! We can use abstract nouns as an object in a sentence. We can take the same sentence, for example – Honesty is the best policy. 

Can abstract nouns be used in different tenses?

The abstract noun typically uses the past tense to describe the research that has been conducted. Present tense can also be used to state general facts. However, it’s not recommended to use future tense unless the abstract noun is for a research proposal that has not been carried out yet.

What are some synonyms for common abstract nouns?

Honesty – uprightness, integrity, morality

Liberty – freedom, liberation, emancipation

Happiness – contentment, pleasure, cheerfulness

Sorrow – unhappiness, dejection, sadness, depression, misery

Anger – annoyance, vexation, irritation, exasperation.

Love – affection, fondness, tenderness, warmth, intimacy, attachment

Hatred – abomination, abhorrence, detestation

Peace – tranquility, calmness, harmony, restfulness

Possibility – chance, probability, likelihood, prospect, hope

Hope – aspiration, desire, ambition, aim, wish, dream

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