ESLBUZZ

Abstract Nouns: A Guide to Writing with Clarity and Precision

By: Author ESLBUZZ

Posted on Last updated: August 18, 2023

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Welcome to our article on abstract nouns! If you’re learning English grammar, you’ve probably come across these elusive nouns that can be tough to define. Abstract nouns are words that represent intangible concepts, such as emotions, ideas, and qualities. Unlike concrete nouns, which refer to physical objects, abstract nouns are a bit more challenging to grasp.

In this article, we’ll explore what abstract nouns are, how to use them correctly, and why they’re an essential part of English grammar. We’ll provide plenty of examples to help you understand abstract nouns better and show you how to identify them in a sentence. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced English learner, this article will provide you with the tools you need to master abstract nouns. So, let’s dive in!

Abstract Nouns

Abstract Nouns: A Guide to Writing with Clarity and Precision

Understanding Abstract Nouns

If you’re learning English, you’ve probably come across the term “abstract noun.” Abstract nouns are a type of noun that refer to ideas, concepts, and emotions that cannot be touched or seen. They are the opposite of concrete nouns, which refer to physical objects that can be perceived with our senses.

To help you understand abstract nouns better, let’s take a look at some examples:

  • Intelligence

As you can see, these words are not things that you can touch or see. They are concepts that we use to describe ideas and emotions.

One way to identify an abstract noun is to look for nouns that end in -ness, -ity, -tion, -ment, or -ance. For example:

  • Communication
  • Development

These endings are often used to form abstract nouns from other parts of speech, such as adjectives and verbs.

It’s important to note that abstract nouns can be difficult to define and understand because they are intangible. However, they are an essential part of the English language and are used frequently in both spoken and written communication.

Abstract Nouns vs. Concrete Nouns

Nouns are words that name people, places, things, or ideas. They can be classified into two broad categories: abstract nouns and concrete nouns.

Concrete nouns are physical things that can be seen, touched, heard, tasted, or smelled. Examples of concrete nouns include dog, ball, ice cream, and perfume.

Abstract nouns, on the other hand, are non-physical ideas or concepts that cannot be perceived through the senses. They are intangible and exist only in the mind. Examples of abstract nouns include love, freedom, happiness, and courage.

Usage Comparison

Concrete nouns are used to describe things that can be experienced through the senses. They are often used in descriptive writing to create vivid images in the reader’s mind.

Abstract nouns, on the other hand, are used to describe things that cannot be experienced through the senses. They are often used in persuasive writing to convey emotions, ideas, and concepts.

Here are some examples to help you understand the difference between concrete and abstract nouns:

Identifying Abstract Nouns

As we learned in the previous section, abstract nouns refer to intangible concepts, ideas, and qualities that cannot be touched or seen. Identifying abstract nouns can be challenging, especially for non-native English speakers. However, with a little practice, you can easily distinguish abstract nouns from concrete nouns.

Here are some tips to help you identify abstract nouns:

  • Look for words that represent emotions, feelings, or states of mind, such as love, happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and courage.
  • Identify words that describe qualities or characteristics, such as beauty, honesty, intelligence, and kindness.
  • Notice words that represent concepts, ideas, or theories, such as democracy , freedom, justice, and equality.
  • Pay attention to words that represent actions or processes, such as communication, cooperation, and development.

Usage of Abstract Nouns in Sentences

Expressing Emotions

Abstract nouns are commonly used to express emotions. They can describe feelings like happiness, sadness, anger, or love. Using abstract nouns to describe emotions can add depth and nuance to your writing, and it can help you convey your thoughts and feelings more effectively.

For example:

  • I felt a surge of joy when I saw my dog after a long day at work.
  • Her eyes were filled with sadness when she heard the news.
  • His anger boiled over when he realized he had been betrayed.

Describing Concepts

Abstract nouns are also used to describe concepts and ideas. They can represent things like justice, freedom, democracy, or equality. Using abstract nouns to describe concepts can help you convey complex ideas in a concise and straightforward manner.

  • The concept of democracy is based on the idea of equal representation.
  • Justice is a fundamental principle in any civilized society.
  • The pursuit of happiness is a universal human desire.

Representing Ideas

Abstract nouns are essential in representing ideas. They can represent things like knowledge, wisdom, creativity, or innovation. Using abstract nouns to represent ideas can help you convey your thoughts and ideas more effectively.

  • Knowledge is the key to success in any field.
  • Wisdom comes with experience and reflection.
  • Creativity is the ability to think outside the box and come up with new ideas.

Common Mistakes with Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns can be tricky to use correctly, and many writers make common mistakes when using them. Here are a few of the most common mistakes and how to avoid them:

Mistake #1: Confusing Abstract Nouns with Concrete Nouns

One of the most common mistakes when using abstract nouns is confusing them with concrete nouns. Concrete nouns refer to physical objects that can be seen, touched, heard, smelled, or tasted. Abstract nouns, on the other hand, refer to ideas, concepts, emotions, and qualities that cannot be perceived by the senses.

For example, “love” is an abstract noun, while “book” is a concrete noun. Confusing these two types of nouns can lead to awkward or confusing sentences. To avoid this mistake, make sure you understand the difference between abstract and concrete nouns and use them correctly in your writing.

Mistake #2: Overusing Abstract Nouns

Another common mistake is overusing abstract nouns in your writing. While abstract nouns can add depth and complexity to your writing, using too many of them can make your writing sound vague and abstract.

For example, instead of writing “the beauty of nature,” try writing “the colorful leaves rustling in the autumn breeze.” This sentence still conveys the idea of beauty, but it also includes concrete details that make the writing more vivid and engaging.

Mistake #4: Using Abstract Nouns without Context

Using abstract nouns without providing context can also be a mistake. Abstract nouns can be difficult to understand without a frame of reference. For example, instead of writing “the importance of education,” write “the importance of education in shaping a person’s future.”

Providing context helps readers understand the abstract noun and its significance. Without context, abstract nouns can seem vague and meaningless.

Tips to Master Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns can be tricky to master, but with a few tips, you can improve your understanding and use of them in your writing. Here are some tips to help you master abstract nouns:

Tip 1: Identify Abstract Nouns

The first step to mastering abstract nouns is to identify them. Abstract nouns refer to intangible ideas, feelings, qualities, or concepts that you cannot see, touch, or smell. Some examples of abstract nouns include love, beauty, freedom, and happiness. To identify abstract nouns in a sentence, look for words that describe things that cannot be perceived by the five senses.

Tip 2: Use Concrete Examples

One way to master abstract nouns is to use concrete examples to illustrate them. For example, instead of just saying “happiness,” you could say “the happiness I felt when I saw my family after a long time.” Using concrete examples helps to clarify the meaning of abstract nouns and makes your writing more engaging.

Tip 3: Use the Right Articles

Another tip for mastering abstract nouns is to use the right articles. Abstract nouns are usually uncountable, so they are often preceded by the articles “a,” “an,” or “the.”

Tip 4: Use the Right Adjectives

When using abstract nouns, it’s important to use the right adjectives to describe them. Adjectives like “strong,” “positive,” and “negative” can be used to describe abstract nouns like “willpower,” “attitude,” and “emotion.” Using the right adjectives helps to convey the meaning of abstract nouns more clearly.

Tip 5: Practice, Practice, Practice

Finally, the best way to master abstract nouns is to practice using them in your writing. Try to use abstract nouns in your sentences and paragraphs, and ask for feedback from others to see if your meaning is clear. The more you practice, the more confident you will become in using abstract nouns correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some examples of abstract nouns?

Some examples of abstract nouns include love, happiness, justice, freedom, and courage. These nouns refer to concepts or ideas that cannot be seen or touched but are still important in our lives.

How do abstract nouns differ from concrete nouns?

Abstract nouns refer to intangible concepts or ideas, while concrete nouns refer to things that can be seen, touched, or experienced through the senses. For example, while love is an abstract noun, a tree is a concrete noun.

Can you provide some sentences with abstract nouns?

Sure! Here are some examples:

  • The beauty of the sunset took my breath away.
  • His kindness towards others is admirable.
  • The freedom to express ourselves is a basic human right.
  • The sadness in her eyes was palpable.

What is the importance of using abstract nouns in writing?

Abstract nouns can add depth and complexity to your writing by allowing you to explore complex ideas and emotions. They can also help you create a more vivid and sensory experience for your readers.

How can children learn about abstract nouns?

One way to teach children about abstract nouns is to encourage them to think about concepts or ideas that cannot be seen or touched. You can also provide them with examples of abstract nouns and ask them to identify the noun in a sentence.

What are some common abstract noun phrases?

Some common abstract noun phrases include:

  • A sense of purpose
  • A feeling of joy
  • A state of confusion
  • An attitude of gratitude
  • A moment of reflection

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By using abstract noun phrases, you can convey complex ideas and emotions in a concise and powerful way.

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English Study Online

Abstract Nouns: List of 165 Important Abstract Nouns from A to Z

By: Author English Study Online

Posted on Last updated: November 3, 2023

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If you’re learning English, you’ve probably come across these tricky little words before. In this article, we’ll be exploring what abstract nouns are, how to use them, and why they’re important in the English language. We’ll be providing examples of abstract nouns and explaining how they differ from concrete nouns. We’ll also be discussing how to recognize abstract nouns in a sentence and how to use them correctly in your writing.

Table of Contents

Abstract Noun Definition

Abstract nouns are intangible concepts or ideas that cannot be experienced with the five senses. They represent things like emotions , ideas, qualities , and states of being . Unlike concrete nouns that refer to physical objects or things that can be perceived by the senses, abstract nouns cannot be seen, touched, heard, smelled, or tasted.

Examples of abstract nouns include love, peace, hope, freedom, happiness, courage, and honesty . These nouns represent concepts that cannot be measured or quantified, but they are essential to human experience and communication. For example, we use abstract nouns like love to express a deep emotional connection to someone or something.

One way to identify abstract nouns is to think about whether you can see, touch, hear, smell, or taste the thing being described. If you cannot, it is likely an abstract noun. For example, the word “ beauty” is an abstract noun because it is a concept that cannot be seen or touched.

It is important to note that abstract nouns can be difficult to define precisely because they represent intangible concepts. However, they are essential to effective communication and can add depth and nuance to our language. By understanding abstract nouns, we can better express ourselves and connect with others on a deeper level.

Abstract Nouns List

Abstract Nouns

Types of Abstract Nouns

As we mentioned earlier, abstract nouns are intangible ideas that cannot be perceived with the five senses. In this section, we will explore some of the different types of abstract nouns.

Emotions are one of the most common types of abstract nouns. They refer to feelings that we experience, such as love, anger, sadness, and happiness . These emotions cannot be seen or touched, but they can be felt and expressed through language and behavior.

Ideas are another type of abstract noun. They refer to concepts and thoughts that exist in our minds, such as freedom, democracy, justice, and equality . These ideas are not physical objects, but they can have a powerful impact on our lives and society.

Qualities are abstract nouns that describe characteristics or attributes of people, things, or ideas. Examples of qualities include honesty, bravery, intelligence, and creativity. These qualities cannot be seen or touched, but they can be demonstrated through actions and behaviors.

Experiences

Experiences are abstract nouns that refer to events or situations that we encounter in our lives. Examples of experiences include success, failure, adventure, and tragedy . These experiences cannot be physically touched or seen, but they can have a profound impact on our lives and shape who we are as individuals.

Abstract Nouns vs. Concrete Nouns

In English, nouns can be divided into two main categories: abstract nouns and concrete nouns . Abstract nouns are used to describe ideas, concepts, and feelings that cannot be perceived through the senses. Concrete nouns, on the other hand, are used to describe physical objects that can be seen, touched, heard, smelled, or tasted.

  • For example, the word “ love ” is an abstract noun because it describes a feeling or emotion that cannot be seen or touched.
  • In contrast, the word “ table ” is a concrete noun because it describes a physical object that can be seen and touched.

It is important to understand the difference between abstract and concrete nouns because they are used differently in sentences. Concrete nouns are often used as the subject or object of a sentence, while abstract nouns are often used to describe a quality or attribute of a concrete noun.

  • For example, in the sentence “ The dog chased the ball ,” “dog” and “ball” are both concrete nouns because they describe physical objects.

In the sentence “The dog showed loyalty to its owner,” “loyalty” is an abstract noun because it describes a quality of the dog’s behavior.

Here are some more examples of abstract and concrete nouns:

List of Common Abstract Nouns

Usage of abstract nouns.

Abstract nouns play a crucial role in both writing and speech. In this section, we will explore the different ways in which abstract nouns can be used effectively.

Abstract nouns are often used in writing to convey emotions and ideas that cannot be easily expressed through concrete nouns. Here are some ways in which abstract nouns can be used effectively in writing:

  • Describing emotions: Abstract nouns such as “love,” “happiness,” and “sadness” can be used to describe emotions in a way that is more impactful than using concrete nouns. For example, instead of saying “She felt a warm feeling in her heart,” we can say “She felt a deep sense of love.”
  • Explaining concepts: Abstract nouns can be used to explain complex concepts in a concise and clear manner. For example, instead of saying “The process of photosynthesis involves the conversion of light energy into chemical energy,” we can say “Photosynthesis is the process by which plants convert light energy into chemical energy.”
  • Creating imagery: Abstract nouns can be used to create vivid imagery in writing. For example, instead of saying “The sunset was beautiful,” we can say “The sky was painted with hues of orange, pink, and purple, creating a breathtaking display of beauty.”

Abstract nouns are also commonly used in speech to convey ideas and emotions. Here are some ways in which abstract nouns can be used effectively in speech:

  • Expressing feelings: Abstract nouns can be used to express feelings and emotions in a way that is more impactful than using concrete nouns. For example, instead of saying “I am happy,” we can say “I am filled with a sense of happiness.”
  • Discussing ideas: Abstract nouns can be used to discuss complex ideas and concepts in a clear and concise manner. For example, instead of saying “The economy is experiencing a period of growth,” we can say “There is a sense of prosperity in the economy.”
  • Creating connections: Abstract nouns can be used to create connections between different ideas and concepts. For example, instead of saying “These two ideas are related,” we can say “There is a strong connection between these two concepts.”

Abstract Nouns List | Infographic

Abstract Nouns

Practice Exercises

Practice exercises are a great way to reinforce your understanding of abstract nouns. In this section, we’ll cover two types of exercises: identifying exercises and usage exercises.

Identifying Exercises

In identifying exercises, you’ll be asked to identify the abstract noun in a sentence. Here are a few examples:

  • The beauty of nature is awe-inspiring.
  • Her kindness towards others is admirable.
  • The concept of time is difficult to grasp.

In each of these sentences, the abstract noun is underlined. Can you identify them? The answers are:

Usage Exercises

Usage exercises are a bit more challenging. In these exercises, you’ll be asked to use abstract nouns in your own sentences. Here are a few examples:

  • Write a sentence using the abstract noun “love”.
  • Write a sentence using the abstract noun “happiness”.
  • Write a sentence using the abstract noun “freedom”.

Here are some possible answers:

  • Our love for each other grows stronger every day.
  • Her happiness was contagious and spread to everyone around her.
  • Freedom is a fundamental right that should be protected at all costs.

Practice exercises are a great way to improve your understanding of abstract nouns. Make sure to keep practicing until you feel confident in your ability to identify and use abstract nouns correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some common examples of abstract nouns in English?

There are many examples of abstract nouns in English, including love, courage, intelligence, creativity, communication, development, importance, and many more. Abstract nouns are words that describe intangible concepts or ideas that cannot be seen, touched, or heard.

How can abstract nouns be formed?

Abstract nouns can be formed in several ways. One common way is to add a suffix to a verb, such as -tion, -ment, -ness, -ity, or -ance. For example, the verb “create” can be turned into the abstract noun “creativity” by adding the suffix -ity. Another way to form abstract nouns is by converting adjectives into abstract nouns, such as “beauty” from “beautiful” or “happiness” from “happy”.

Is the word ’emotion’ considered an abstract noun?

Yes, the word ’emotion’ is considered an abstract noun. Emotion is an intangible concept that cannot be seen or touched. It is a feeling or state of mind that is often associated with specific physical sensations , but is not itself a physical object. Other examples of abstract nouns that are related to emotions include love, happiness, sadness, and anger.

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Abstract Noun

What is an abstract noun.

  • consideration, parenthood, belief, anger

Table of Contents

More Examples of Abstract Nouns

Find the abstract noun test, abstract nouns vs concrete nouns, list of abstract nouns.

Why Abstract Nouns Are Important

Video Lesson

abstract noun examples

Abstract or Concrete? It Could Be Ambiguous.

  • anger, anxiety, beauty, beliefs, bravery, brilliance, chaos, charity, childhood, comfort, communication, compassion, courage, culture, curiosity, deceit, dedication, democracy, determination, energy, failure, faith, fear, freedom, friendship, generosity, gossip, happiness, hate, honesty, hope, imagination, information, integrity, intelligence, joy, justice, kindness, knowledge, liberty, life, love, loyalty, luxury, misery, motivation, opportunity, pain, patience, peace, perseverance, pleasure, pride, relaxation, sacrifice, satisfaction, skill, strength, success, sympathy, talent, thought, trust, truth, warmth, wisdom
  • ...and my bicycle never leaned against the garage as it does today, all the dark blue speed drained out of it. (from "On Turning Ten" by American Poet Laureate Billy Collins
  • If writing a poem, consider expressing abstract ideas using concrete nouns.

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  • English Grammar
  • Parts of Speech
  • Abstract Nouns

Abstract Nouns - Definition, Examples and Usage

Abstract nouns are naming words that you cannot see, smell, touch or perceive by any of your five senses. Learn more about abstract nouns, definitions, examples and usage of abstract nouns in this article.

Table of Contents

Definition of an abstract noun, converting verbs and adjectives into abstract nouns, test your knowledge on abstract nouns, frequently asked questions on abstract nouns, what is an abstract noun.

An abstract noun is used to refer to concepts, ideas, experiences, traits, feelings or entities that cannot be seen, heard, tasted, smelt or touched. Abstract nouns are not concrete or tangible. There are a lot of abstract nouns (virtues) used in proverbs.

An abstract noun is defined as ‘a noun , for example, beauty or freedom , that refers to an idea or a general quality, not to a physical object’, according to the Oxford Learners Dictionary. According to Collins Dictionary, ‘an abstract noun refers to a quality or idea rather than to a physical object.’

Examples of Abstract Nouns

Check out the following examples of abstract nouns.

A verb or an adjective can be converted into an abstract noun by the addition of a suffix and vice versa. Have a look at the examples given below.

Converting Verbs to Abstract Nouns

  • Move – movement
  • Reflect – reflection
  • Perceive – perception
  • Conscious – Consciousness
  • Appear – Appearance
  • Resist – Resistance
  • Appoint – appointment
  • Enjoy – enjoyment
  • Assign – assignment
  • Inform – information
  • Decide – decision
  • Describe – description
  • Determine – determination
  • Block – blockade

Converting Adjectives to Abstract Nouns

  • Brave – bravery
  • Truth – truthful
  • Honest – honesty
  • Weak – weakness
  • Happy – happiness
  • Sad – sadness
  • Mad – madness
  • Responsible – responsibility
  • Possible – possibility
  • Probable – probability
  • Able – ability
  • Independent – independence
  • Free – freedom
  • Silent – silence

Some words can function both as a noun and a verb without any change in spelling. Here are some examples for you.

  • Love as a verb – I love the way she works with it.

Love as a noun – Love is one of the qualities everyone should possess

  • Divorce as a verb – Harry cannot divorce his wife.

Divorce as a noun – Are you getting a divorce?

  • Aim as a verb – You have to aim for the highest grades.

Aim as a noun – What is your aim?

  • Battle as a verb – Teena had to battle hard to stay in shape.

Battle as a noun – Do you know who won the battle?

  • Play as a verb – The children are playing outdoor games.

Play as a noun – The Shakespearean play was performed by young artists.

Let us now check how much you have learned about abstract nouns. Identify the abstract nouns in the following sentences.

  • Honesty is the best policy.
  • There is no possibility for you to reach home by six in the evening.
  • This place has a really pleasant ambience.
  • Pride goes before a fall.
  • Brevity is the soul of wit.
  • That man is testing my patience.
  • Have you read about the theory of evolution?
  • Truthfulness is always appreciated.
  • Friendship is priceless.
  • What do you think about his idea?

Let us find out if you have understood correctly. Check your answers here.

  • Honesty is the best policy .
  • This place has a really pleasant ambience .
  • Brevity is the soul of wit .
  • That man is testing my patience .
  • Have you read about the theory of evolution ?
  • What do you think about his idea ?

What is an abstract noun?

An abstract noun is used to refer to concepts, ideas, experiences, traits, feelings or entities that cannot be seen, heard, tasted, smelt or touched. Abstract nouns are not concrete or tangible.

Give some examples of abstract nouns.

Love, concept, experience, courage, judgement, probability, freedom and soul are some examples of abstract nouns.

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abstract noun writing

Abstract Nouns: What Are Abstract Nouns? Definition and Examples

abstract noun writing

Would you like to learn about abstract nouns? Then you're in the right place. This article will cover everything you need to know about them and how to use them in your writing.

  • Abstract nouns refer to non-physical things you can't perceive with your senses.

This guide is part of our free online Grammar Book .

What Are Abstract Nouns?

Before we get started, let's have a quick grammar review: what are nouns? Nouns are naming words, clauses, or phrases that you can use to refer to a person, place, or thing.

  • All nouns can be singular or plural; proper or common; countable or non-countable, and so on.
  • Abstract nouns are the opposite of concrete nouns. They refer to non-physical things that cannot be sensed. 

Here are some categories of this type of noun:

  • emotions/feelings love, fear, sympathy
  • characteristics tenderness, bravery, beauty
  • concepts socialism, knowledge, freedom
  • states beginning, life, peace
  • measurements of time hour, tomorrow, Monday
  • movements Christianity, feminism, Black Lives Matter

Following are some examples of abstract nouns ( underlined ) in a sentence.

It isn't an easy transition moving to another country. I need you to do me a huge favor , please. Do you believe our soul lives on after we die? We'll need to set our differences aside in order to work together.  Our friendship means a lot to me.

One thing to note about these words is that they often follow a particular pattern, which makes them easier to recognize and tell apart from concrete nouns.

That pattern is:

root word + suffix

The root word can be a verb, adjective, or other noun, and the suffix can be one of many.

Below are some examples.

-ship friendship relationship worship  flagship courtship -ence difference reference violence existence influence -or / -er favor supervisor actor trainer teacher -tion / -sion transition communication question excursion confusion -ism racism sexism autism feminism baptism

Not all abstract nouns are formed this way, but when you see a noun that looks like this, you can be almost certain it's an abstract noun.

Nouns That Are Both Abstract and Concrete

It's important to note that despite the fact all nouns are either abstract or concrete, there are instances where some nouns can actually alternate between the two types. This will depend on the context.

Here are some examples:

The music is really loud. Music brings my soul to life. The Earth's atmosphere is retained by gravity. I don't want to have lunch there; the atmosphere sucks.  His latest painting is a work of art. It was really hard work getting this piano in here.

Concluding Thoughts

That brings us to the conclusion of this article on abstract nouns. I hope you found it helpful.

Let's summarize what we've learned:

  • Nouns are naming words to refer to a person, place, animal, thing, idea, or concept.
  • Abstract nouns are for non-physical things that you cannot perceive.
  • Some nouns can be both abstract and concrete.

If you enjoyed this article, you might like our Grammar Book . It's a free online database full of grammar articles just like this one. Check it out!

Learn More:

  • Concrete Nouns: What Are Concrete Nouns? Definition and Examples
  • Proper Nouns: What Are Proper Nouns? Definition and Examples
  • Common Nouns: What Are Common Nouns? Definition and Examples
  • Collective Nouns: What Are Collective Nouns? Definition and Examples
  • Compound Nouns: What Are Compound Nouns? Definition and Examples
  • Possessive Nouns: What Are Possessive Nouns? Definition and Examples
  • Nouns: What Are Nouns? (Types and Examples)
  • Mass Nouns: What is a Mass Noun?
  • Abbreviations: What Are Abbreviations? Definition and Examples
  • Simple Sentence: What Is a Simple Sentence? Definition and Examples
  • Sentence Fragments: What Are Sentence Fragments? Definition and Examples
  • Homographs: What Are Homographs? Definition and Examples
  • Loan Words: What Are Loan Words? Definition and Examples
  • Singular and Plural: Understanding Singular and Plural Forms in English (Examples)
  • Transition Words: What Are Transition Words? Definitions and Examples

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abstract noun writing

abstract noun writing

Understanding an Abstract Noun (Definition, Examples, Word List)

abstract noun

What is an abstract noun? How is it different from a common noun ? What are words that represent an abstract noun? These are all great questions that you probably have . Abstract nouns can get confusing when comparing them to regular common nouns or proper nouns. This comprehensive guide will break down the abstract noun, its use , and the functions that grammatically govern it.

Abstract noun

What is an abstract noun? 

An abstract noun is a type of noun that represents intangible things. Things you can’t perceive with the five primary senses in the human body (taste, touch, smell, etc.).

Abstract noun definition 

As the name suggests, an abstract noun is a noun type. It refers to an intangible idea (one that you cannot fathom using your five senses). Such intangible concepts could include emotions, qualities, ideas, etc.

All nouns that do not have a tangible or physical object to refer to fall under the bracket of abstract nouns . Abstract nouns are widely used in English proverbs. 

Some common examples include health, wealth, parenthood, anger, courage, and more. 

Abstract noun compared to other nouns 

Nouns are an essential part of speech. They are instrumental in naming places, people, objects, animals, and intangible ideas.

You may have noticed that whenever you write a sentence , you are using at least one noun in it.

Nouns can get used differently in different sentence formations. Their functions can vary. Here are the main types of nouns you could use in a complete sentence:

Proper Nouns

Proper nouns are naming agents for places, people, or things. They usually start with a capital letter. 

For example:

  • My name is Lisa. (Lisa is the proper noun )
  • John lives in Finland. (Finland is the proper noun)
  • Jazz is a famous book. (Jazz is the proper noun)

Common Nouns 

Nouns that refer to generic things are referred to as common nouns . 

  • I bought a new book yesterday. (Book is the common noun)
  • There is a pigeon on the windowsill. (Pigeon is the common noun)
  • Rob bought a blue car. (Car is the common noun)

Countable Nouns 

Nouns that can be measured or counted are called countable nouns . 

  • I take two spoons of sugar in my tea. (“Two” is the countable noun )
  • She bought a dozen bananas at the market. (“A dozen” is the countable noun) 

Uncountable Nouns 

Nouns that cannot be measured or counted are called uncountable nouns. 

  • I have plenty of homework. (Plenty is the uncountable noun)
  • Is that enough milk in your coffee? (Enough is the uncountable noun)

Collective Nouns 

Collective nouns depict a group of objects, people, animals, and more. 

  • A flock of sheep 
  • A pile of books 
  • A school of fish 
  • A bevy of women 

Concrete Nouns 

Also referred to as material nouns, concrete nouns refer to things that have a physical presence and can be perceived using the five senses. 

Abstract Nouns 

Any noun that is intangible or which cannot be perceived using the five senses is an abstract noun . 

  • Bravery is a virtue. (Bravery is the abstract noun)
  • My childhood was merry and fun . (Childhood is the abstract noun)

Abstract vs. concrete noun

Abstract nouns in comparison to concrete nouns 

Concrete noun, as the name suggests, includes all those objects which have a physical presence and are tangible. They can be perceived with the help of our five senses. These include nouns such as book, pen, cup, table silk, door, car, and so on. 

  • I travel to school by bus . (School and bus are both concrete nouns )
  • Sally opened the door. (Door is the concrete noun) 

Abstract nouns include everything that is intangible and cannot be perceived by the five senses. These include emotions, feelings, ideas, and more. 

  • Honesty is the best policy. (Honesty is the abstract noun)
  • Freedom is my birthright. (Freedom is the abstract noun) 

Abstract noun word list

Abstract noun word list 

Here are some examples of abstract nouns based on their kind. 

  • Feelings – sympathy, fear, anxiety, stress, pleasure
  • State – Chaos, peace, misery, freedom
  • Emotions – anger, joy, sorrow, hate 
  • Qualities – determination, courage, honesty, generosity, patience 
  • Concepts – democracy, charity, deceit, opportunity, comfort 
  • Moments – career, death, marriage, childhood, birth 

Abstract noun word list

More examples of commonly used abstract nouns

  • Bravery 
  • Brilliance 
  • Childhood 
  • Comfort 
  • Compassion 
  • Communication 
  • Curiosity 
  • Culture 
  • Dedication 
  • Energy 
  • Faith 
  • Friendship 
  • Gossip 
  • Information 
  • Imagination 
  • Intelligence 
  • Integrity 
  • Justice 
  • Knowledge 
  • Kindness 
  • Liberty 
  • Loyalty 
  • Luxury 
  • Motivation 
  • Perseverance 
  • Relaxation 
  • Skill 
  • Satisfaction 
  • Strength 
  • Success 
  • Thought 
  • Talent 
  • Truth 
  • Trust 
  • Wisdom 
  • Warmth 

Sentence examples with abstract nouns 

The following are three sentence examples with abstract nouns – 

  • This cafe has a pleasant ambiance. (Ambiance is the abstract noun)
  • Pride is a deadly sin. (Pride is the abstract noun)
  • My friendship with Peter is of seven years . (Friendship is the abstract noun) 

Conversion of Verbs and Adjectives into Abstract Nouns 

Convert verbs and adjectives into abstract nouns by adding a suffix . The reverse is also a possibility. 

  • Perceive – Perception 
  • Inform – Information 
  • Determine – Determination 
  • Dark – Darkness 
  • Silent – Silence

Why are abstract nouns important? 

Abstract nouns are tricky. Use concrete nouns to make them understandable in sentences. Abstract nouns are not of much use from a business point of view.

However, they are an integral part of any English grammar course. Conversions between abstract nouns and verbs or adjectives are essential while learning complete sentence construction.

Yes, warmth is an abstract noun. 

The abstract form of ability (abstract noun) is able.

Five examples of abstract nouns include honesty, glory, patience, determination, and truth.

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abstract noun writing

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About the author

Dalia Y.: Dalia is an English Major and linguistics expert with an additional degree in Psychology. Dalia has featured articles on Forbes, Inc, Fast Company, Grammarly, and many more. She covers English, ESL, and all things grammar on GrammarBrain.

Core lessons

  • Abstract Noun
  • Accusative Case
  • Active Sentence
  • Alliteration
  • Adjective Clause
  • Adjective Phrase
  • Adverbial Clause
  • Appositive Phrase
  • Body Paragraph
  • Compound Adjective
  • Complex Sentence
  • Compound Words
  • Compound Predicate
  • Common Noun
  • Comparative Adjective
  • Comparative and Superlative
  • Compound Noun
  • Compound Subject
  • Compound Sentence
  • Copular Verb
  • Collective Noun
  • Colloquialism
  • Conciseness
  • Conditional
  • Concrete Noun
  • Conjunction
  • Conjugation
  • Conditional Sentence
  • Comma Splice
  • Correlative Conjunction
  • Coordinating Conjunction
  • Coordinate Adjective
  • Cumulative Adjective
  • Dative Case
  • Declarative Statement
  • Direct Object Pronoun
  • Direct Object
  • Dangling Modifier
  • Demonstrative Pronoun
  • Demonstrative Adjective
  • Direct Characterization
  • Definite Article
  • Doublespeak
  • Equivocation Fallacy
  • Future Perfect Progressive
  • Future Simple
  • Future Perfect Continuous
  • Future Perfect
  • First Conditional
  • Gerund Phrase
  • Genitive Case
  • Helping Verb
  • Irregular Adjective
  • Irregular Verb
  • Imperative Sentence
  • Indefinite Article
  • Intransitive Verb
  • Introductory Phrase
  • Indefinite Pronoun
  • Indirect Characterization
  • Interrogative Sentence
  • Intensive Pronoun
  • Inanimate Object
  • Indefinite Tense
  • Infinitive Phrase
  • Interjection
  • Intensifier
  • Indicative Mood
  • Juxtaposition
  • Linking Verb
  • Misplaced Modifier
  • Nominative Case
  • Noun Adjective
  • Object Pronoun
  • Object Complement
  • Order of Adjectives
  • Parallelism
  • Prepositional Phrase
  • Past Simple Tense
  • Past Continuous Tense
  • Past Perfect Tense
  • Past Progressive Tense
  • Present Simple Tense
  • Present Perfect Tense
  • Personal Pronoun
  • Personification
  • Persuasive Writing
  • Parallel Structure
  • Phrasal Verb
  • Predicate Adjective
  • Predicate Nominative
  • Phonetic Language
  • Plural Noun
  • Punctuation
  • Punctuation Marks
  • Preposition
  • Preposition of Place
  • Parts of Speech
  • Possessive Adjective
  • Possessive Determiner
  • Possessive Case
  • Possessive Noun
  • Proper Adjective
  • Proper Noun
  • Present Participle
  • Quotation Marks
  • Relative Pronoun
  • Reflexive Pronoun
  • Reciprocal Pronoun
  • Subordinating Conjunction
  • Simple Future Tense
  • Stative Verb
  • Subjunctive
  • Subject Complement
  • Subject of a Sentence
  • Sentence Variety
  • Second Conditional
  • Superlative Adjective
  • Slash Symbol
  • Topic Sentence
  • Types of Nouns
  • Types of Sentences
  • Uncountable Noun
  • Vowels and Consonants

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abstract noun writing

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What Are Abstract Nouns And How Do You Use Them?

  • What's An Abstract Noun?
  • Abstract Vs. Concrete Nouns
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You probably know that a noun is a word that refers to a person, place, thing, or idea—this is a grammar concept we learn pretty early on in school. And there are, of course, several different types of nouns that we use to refer to all of the things we experience during our lives: We eat food. We meet friends. We go to the store. These nouns refer to the people and physical objects that we interact with.

But what about the things that we can’t actually see or touch? Aren’t words like love , victory , and alliance nouns, too? Yes, they are, and there is a term you may not remember from your grade-school days that we use to refer to these things: the abstract noun.

abstract noun writing

What is an abstract noun?

An abstract noun is “a noun denoting something immaterial and abstract.” Another common way to think about abstract nouns is that they refer to things that you cannot experience with the five senses . You cannot see, smell, hear, taste, or touch abstract nouns. Abstract nouns refer to intangible things that don’t exist as physical objects.

For example, the word cat refers to a cute animal. You can see and touch a cat. The noun cat is not an abstract noun. On the other hand, the word luck refers to a complex idea about how likely it is that good or bad events are going to happen to someone. Luck doesn’t exist as a physical object; you can’t eat luck nor can you go to a store and buy luck. Luck is an abstract noun because it refers to an intangible concept rather than a physical object that we can experience with our senses.

What about those nouns that you can tangibly sense? Learn more about concrete nouns here.

Abstract noun examples

Unlike most other nouns, abstract nouns don’t refer to people or places. After all, people and places are real things that exist in our world. Even nouns that refer to fictional characters and places, such as Godzilla or Valhalla , are not, the reasoning goes, abstract nouns because these things would have a physical form if they were actually real.

So, all abstract nouns are “things.” Remember, though, that abstract nouns only refer to intangible things such as emotions, ideas, philosophies, and concepts. Let’s stop being abstract and look at some specific examples so we can get a better understanding of abstract nouns.

Even though we often say that we “feel” emotions, we don’t mean that literally. You “feel” emotions like happiness or anger as thoughts in your mind or activity in your brain and body. You can’t hold happiness in your hand or eat a plate of sadness. You can see people or animals expressing these emotions through actions, but emotions are not tangible objects. So, we refer to them with abstract nouns.

  • Examples: happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, disgust, joy, fear, anxiety, hope

Ideas, concepts and beliefs

Besides emotions, abstract nouns are also used to refer to other concepts and ideas. These kinds of abstract nouns give names to complex topics and give us a glimpse into a big part of what makes us human—our big, wrinkly brains! While most abstract nouns are common nouns, meaning that they refer to general ideas, they can also be proper nouns, such as Christianity.

  • Examples: government, dedication, cruelty, justice, Christianity, Islam, Cubism

List of abstract nouns

Abstract nouns can be pretty tough to understand, so let’s look at a bunch more:

  • religion, science, experimentation, research, magnetism, creativity, invisibility, kindness, greed, laziness, effort, speed, concentration, confusion, dizziness, time, situation, existence, death, anarchy, law, democracy, relief, opportunity, technology, discovery, hopelessness, defeat, friendship, patience, decay, holiness, youth, childhood, Stoicism, Marxism

The difference between abstract & concrete nouns

Getting a grasp on what abstract nouns are, exactly, can be tough. While abstract nouns refer to intangible things without a physical form, all of the people, places, and things that do actually have a physical form are referred to by a type of noun: a concrete noun. Unlike abstract nouns, concrete nouns can be experienced with the five senses: they can take a material form rather than an image, say, in your mind’s eye of catness.  You can see a tree . You can eat a pineapple. You can hear an engine. You can smell socks. You can touch a lamp.

So, your five senses can help you distinguish between abstract and concrete nouns. Remember, words for fictional people, places, and things are considered to be concrete nouns even if they don’t actually exist in our world. You may not be able to smell a zombie in everyday life, but you would be able to if it were real—just remember to run away if you ever saw one!

Concrete and Abstract Nouns Chart

Let’s put your noun knowledge to the test with some example sentences. Read each sentence and see if you can figure out if each italicized noun is an abstract noun or a concrete noun.

  • Billionaire Jeff Bezos is famous for his wealth.
  • Next week, we are going on vacation to Belgium.
  • When I grow up, I want to be a superhero.
  • They said he was possessed by a ghost.
  • The robot had many impressive abilities.
  • Her blindness didn’t stop her from being successful.
  • I was attacked by a swarm of bees.
  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • We heard shouting from next door.
  •  The girl just wants attention from her parents.

Good grammar: not an abstract concept

We’ve got a noun for you: genius! And that’s what you’ll be when you check your writing on Thesaurus.com’s Grammar Coach™ . This writing tool uses machine learning technology uniquely designed to catch grammar and spelling errors. Its Synonym Swap will find the best nouns, adjectives, and more to help say what you really mean, guiding you toward clearer, stronger, writing.

Whether you’re writing about a person, place, or thing, perfect grammar has never been easier!

Answers: 1. Abstract 2. Concrete 3. Concrete 4. Concrete 5. Abstract 6. Abstract 7. Concrete 8. Concrete 9. Concrete 10. Abstract

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Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns (e.g. data, energy, quality, problem ...) are nouns which are difficult to visualise in the same way as concrete nouns (e.g. tree, house, plate, flower). Abstract nouns indicate things which exist as ideas, feelings, topics, states, actions, problems, and so on. Even the words we use to describe abstract nouns are themselves abstract nouns. So we seem to be going round in circles. How do we pin down the meaning? This is a problem for dictionary makers, too; how to give a good definition of something which is abstract? Words normally exist in context and the context is where we normally get our meaning. Lexicographers take a word out of normal context to create a definition. Then to make things clearer they put a bit of context back in the form of examples.

Are abstract nouns more difficult to learn than concrete nouns? Perhaps not. If you are a learner of English as another language, you already have these notions in your first language. So perhaps that's not so problematic. What may be more difficult is how these words are used in texts and what they mean or refer to in context. Some of these nouns are very general and could apply to almost anything: thing, reason, effect, fact, problem, importance, etc. When you see these words in a text you have to look elsewhere in the text for the meaning. Usually you find it somewhere before the abstract word ( anaphorically See the glossary definition ) but occasionally you might find it later ( cataphorically See the glossary definition ).

Shell Nouns

There is a category of general nouns used in this way which has been referred to by a number of names: general nouns (Halliday and Hasan, 1976); anaphoric nouns (Francis, 1986); catch-all nouns; carrier nouns (Ivanic, 1991); and shell nouns (Schmid, 2000). Anaphoric nouns implies that they are only used anaphorically, which is not the case (although the vast majority probably are anaphoric). Shell nouns now seems to be the preferred usage. The following two examples show how shell nouns are used in texts, both anaphorically (backward pointing) and cataphorically (forward pointing).

The following example is from an article entitled "Did prehistoric women hunt? New research suggests so" by Annemieke Milks, published in The Conversation where you can read the full article about prehistoric women hunters . It is an example of anaphoric (backward pointing) reference.

The article has more examples of shell noun use, so click on the link above to see how they are used in this text. You can find: "The research ", "the same period ", "This idea ", "This finding ", "This model ".

The next example is from an article entitled "Greenland is melting: we need to worry about what’s happening on the largest island in the world" by Jonathan Bamber, published in The Conversation where you can read the full article Greenland's melting ice . It is an example of cataphoric (forward pointing) reference.

The article also has more examples of shell noun use (all anaphoric), so click on the link above to see how they are used in this text. You can find: "this problem ", "the approach ", "These scenarios ", "This scenario ", "These models ".

The Academic Word List Go to the Academic Word List page contains many abstract nouns which could be used as shell nouns and you can download a pdf of Academic Shell Nouns Go to the Academic Shell Nouns page . You can see how some of them are used on the anaphoric nouns Go to the anaphoric nouns page page. You can also learn about the collocates of many of these nouns in the collocation game Play the Collocation Game .

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Concrete and Abstract Nouns: Definition, Examples, & Exercises

  • The Albert Team
  • Last Updated On: March 1, 2022

concrete abstract nouns examples and exercises

What makes some nouns fall under the category of concrete, while other nouns are categorized  as abstract?

Read on to learn how to tell the difference between concrete and abstract nouns and when to use each type.

When you’re ready, test yourself with a quiz and practice with our high-quality, standards-aligned questions here .

What We Review

The Basics of Concrete and Abstract Nouns

concrete vs. abstract nouns

What is a concrete noun?

A concrete noun identifies something material and non-abstract, such as a chair, a house, or an automobile. Think about everything you can experience with your five senses: smell, touch, sight, hearing, or taste. A strawberry milkshake that tastes sweet and feels cold is an example of a concrete noun .

What is an abstract noun?

An abstract noun identifies something immaterial and abstract, such as rest, dread, or transportation. Think about something you can describe but do not experience with your five senses.

Scoring an ‘A’ on a test or sinking the winning basket in a basketball game is what we would all describe as a win, a victory, or a success. But can you really describe any of these nouns using your senses?

Sure, you might be able to feel the rubber basketball as it leaves your hand and hear it “whoosh” through the net. You may be able to see your score on your test and feel the weight of the paper in your hands, but none of these senses can fully capture the meaning of these abstract nouns .

Abstract Noun Exercises and Review

What is the relationship between concrete and abstract nouns?

Concrete and abstract nouns work together to allow us to communicate effectively.

This list, obviously, does not include all common and proper nouns and is meant to be used as a guide while identifying other nouns.

For example, you may have a friend who shares with you that they feel anxious.

You may not be familiar with this feeling, and you are having trouble understanding what your friend is going through because they used an abstract noun . You can ask your friend to describe what anxiety feels like, and often your friend will then use concrete nouns to help you understand more clearly.

What is the relationship between concrete and abstract nouns?

Your friend explains that his anxiety feels like a giant rock is pushing on his chest, keeping him from moving. His anxiety also feels like he is trying to cross a busy highway, but there are too many cars quickly passing by, making it impossible for him to cross.

Because your friend used concrete nouns such as rock, chest, highway, and cars, you now have a better understanding of what the abstract noun, anxiety, must feel like. Now you know how to help your friend because using these different nouns together helped you both communicate effectively.

How do you use concrete and abstract nouns?

Concrete and abstract nouns can be used together or separately. Authors use concrete nouns to paint vivid physical descriptions of characters and settings.

For example, in The Hobbit , the author, J. R. R. Tolkien, describes the wizard Gandalf as “ an old man with a staff {with} a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak, a silver scarf over a white beard hung down below his waist, and immense black boots ” (Tolkien 17).

How do you use concrete and abstract nouns?

There are several concrete nouns in this sentence that give the reader a picture of what Gandalf might look like. However, to fully understand who Gandalf is apart from just his physical appearance, the author must use abstract nouns as well.

As the story goes on, the reader finds out that some of Gandalf’s strengths are his wisdom and resourcefulness. Both wisdom and resourcefulness are abstract nouns that describe Gandalf further by going beyond Gandalf’s outward appearance.

However, to fully understand these abstract nouns, concrete nouns are needed once again to show the concrete details of how these strengths reveal themselves within the story.

For example, Gandalf’s resourcefulness is shown when he tricks two dangerous trolls into fighting with one another until the sun comes up, which then turns the trolls into stone.

As the trolls argue, Gandalf exclaims, “Dawn take you all, and be stone to you!” (Tolkien 51). When the trolls experience these concrete nouns and see the rising sun turn their bodies into stone, they realize Gandalf’s resourcefulness a little too late.

Return to the Table fo Contents

3 Tips for Understanding Concrete vs. Abstract Nouns

Here are some important tips to help you determine the difference between concrete and abstract nouns:

abstract noun writing

Tip #1. If you can experience the noun with one of your five senses, it is a concrete noun

  • Remember, concrete nouns identify something material and non-abstract, which means we can see, taste, hear, touch, or smell it.
  • For example, your brother’s stinky shoes are a concrete noun. You can see them, and you can absolutely smell them.

Tips for Understanding Concrete vs. Abstract Nouns

Tip #2. If you cannot experience the noun with one or more of your five senses, it is an abstract noun

  • Remember, abstract nouns identify something immaterial and abstract, which means we cannot see, taste, hear, touch, or smell it.
  • For example, the word love is an abstract noun. No one ever saw love taking a stroll around the neighborhood with their pet Corgi, but most everyone understands what love is, even if we have various definitions of it.

Tips for Understanding Concrete vs. Abstract Nouns

Tip #3. Concrete nouns can help us better understand the meaning of abstract nouns

  • Because we cannot experience abstract nouns with our five senses, it can be difficult to fully understand the meaning of certain abstract nouns.
  • Concrete nouns help us understand the meaning of abstract nouns by comparing something immaterial to something material.
  • For example, the abstract noun bravery can be better understood by comparing this word to the concrete words and actions of Martin Luther King Jr. Martin Luther King Jr. embodies the abstract noun bravery because people saw his march to protect the rights of all people, people heard his voice speak against the injustice happening to people around him, and people knew his ears were always open to the stories of people who looked up to him.
  • While the abstract noun bravery cannot be experienced using our five senses, we can understand its meaning better by using concrete nouns such as march , voice , and ears .

Tips for Understanding Concrete vs. Abstract Nouns

Applying the Basics: Common and Proper Noun Review & Practice

Now that you understand the difference between concrete and abstract nouns, let’s practice identifying both types of nouns. 

The Ultimate List of Concrete and Abstract Nouns 

Refer to the graphic below for an extensive list of example concrete and abstract nouns:

The Ultimate List of Concrete and Abstract Nouns

This list, obviously, does not include all concrete and abstract nouns, and it is meant to be used as a guide while identifying the difference between these two types of nouns.

Concrete Noun Exercises and Review 

Now that you know the difference between concrete and abstract nouns, test your ability to accurately identify concrete nouns.

Concrete Noun Exercises and Review

Select the concrete noun(s) in the sentences below. Remember, these nouns identify something material that can be experienced using one or more of the five senses.

1. The chestnut brown horse galloped across the field , the shimmer of it’s golden mane imitated by the waving grass .

  • In this sentence, horse, field, shimmer, mane , and grass are all concrete nouns because they can be experienced by one or more of the five senses, specifically, sight.

2. The heat of the sun beat down mercilessly on the soccer players , forcing several players to take a break to drink long gulps of cold water .

  • In this sentence , heat, sun, players, gulps, and water are concrete nouns because they can all be seen, tasted, or felt. The noun break is not underlined because it refers to a stop in time and cannot be experienced by one or more of the five senses. Therefore, it is an abstract noun.

3. As she leaned her head outside the window , she could smell the fresh-cut grass and newly-mulched flower beds .

  • In this sentence , head, window, grass, and flower beds are all concrete nouns because they can all be seen or smelled.

4. He adjusted the sound on his airpods so that he could hear the violin more clearly.

  • In this sentence , sound, airpods, and violin are all concrete nouns because they can be perceived with the senses of sight and hearing.

5. The flames crackled and hissed atop the dry brush , spreading frantically across the forest in smoky gusts .

  • In this sentence, flames, brush, forest, and gusts are all concrete nouns. The flames can be seen and heard spreading across the dry branches, and the smoky gusts can be seen, smelled, and even felt as it burns our eyes.

Pro tip : When evaluating whether a noun is concrete, ask yourself, “Can I experience it using one or more of the five senses?”

Abstract Noun Exercises and Review

Now that you know the difference between concrete and abstract nouns, test your ability to accurately identify abstract nouns.

Abstract Noun Exercises and Review

Select the abstract noun(s) in the sentences below. Remember, these nouns identify something immaterial and abstract that cannot be experienced using any of the five senses.

1. His fear consumed him like a hungry beast consumes its prey.

  • In this sentence, fear is the only abstract noun because it is the only noun that cannot be experienced using any of the five senses. Other nouns such as beast and prey can immediately be visualized in our minds, making these nouns concrete.

2. Her unwillingness to reach an agreement stalled the proceedings .

  • In this sentence , unwillingness, agreement, and proceedings are all abstract nouns that express something immaterial and cannot be experienced using any of the five senses.

3. His worry over the Friday night game consumed him and caused his failure on his biology exam.

  • In this sentence , worry and failure are both abstract nouns that identify something immaterial and cannot be experienced using any of the five senses.

4. One of Abraham Lincoln’s goals as president was to end slavery and declare freedom from forced servitude .

  • In this sentence , slavery, freedom, and servitude are all abstract nouns because they all represent something immaterial that cannot be experienced using the five senses.

5. In his sonnets, Shakespeare often wrote about love , comparing his subject to the beauty of the natural world.

  • In this sentence, love and beauty are both abstract nouns that express something immaterial that cannot be experienced using the five senses.

Pro tip : When evaluating whether a noun is abstract, ask yourself, “Can I experience it using one or more of the five senses? If the answer is no, then the noun is abstract.”

For additional practice, check out Concrete and Abstract Nouns content on Albert.

Try for Yourself: Concrete and Abstract Nouns Quiz

abstract noun writing

Feeling confident in your understanding of concrete and abstract nouns?

Take this short six-question quiz to see what you’ve learned:

1. Does a concrete noun identify something material or immaterial?

  • Answer: Material
  • Correct Explanation: That’s right! A concrete noun identifies something material like a car, a ball, or a dog.
  • Incorrect Explanation: Sorry, that’s not right! Remember, a concrete noun identifies something material that can be experienced by one or more of the five senses.

2. Does an abstract noun identify something material or immaterial?

  • Answer: Immaterial
  • Correct Explanation: That’s right! An abstract noun identifies something abstract or immaterial like justice, freedom, or peace.
  • Incorrect Explanation: Sorry, that’s not right! Remember, an abstract noun identifies something immaterial that cannot be experienced by any of the five senses.

3. In this sentence, are the underlined words concrete or abstract nouns ?

“We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream ” (King Jr.). 

  • Answer: Concrete
  • Correct Explanation: That’s right! The nouns waters and stream are concrete because they refer to something material that can be both seen and touched.

4. In this sentence, are the underlined words concrete or abstract nouns ?

“We will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream” (King Jr.). 

  • Answer: Abstract
  • Correct Explanation: That’s right! The nouns justice and righteousness are both abstract because they refer to something immaterial that cannot be experienced by any of the five senses.

5. In this sentence, are the underlined words concrete or abstract nouns ?

The love I have for her knows no limit . 

  • Correct Explanation: That’s right! The nouns love and limit are both abstract because they refer to something immaterial that cannot be experienced by any of the five senses.

6. In this sentence, are the underlined words concrete or abstract nouns ?

The excited puppy let out a delighted bark as he played contentedly with his red rubber ball . 

  • Correct Explanation: That’s right! The nouns puppy, bark , and ball are concrete because they refer to something material that can be both seen and touched.
  • Incorrect Explanation: Sorry, that’s not right!  Remember, a concrete noun identifies something material that can be experienced by one or more of the five senses. 

For additional practice with concrete and abstract nouns, check out our practice on Albert: Concrete and Abstract Nouns .

Teacher’s Corner for Concrete and Abstract Nouns

Concrete and abstract nouns are a foundational, third grade grammar skill according to the Common Core State Standards , the Common Core English Language Progressive Skills Chart shows that even elementary-level skills “require continued attention in higher grades as they are applied to increasingly sophisticated writing and speaking.”

Albert’s concrete and abstract nouns practice can be used for more than just homework! Our assessments can be used as pre-and post-tests to measure student progress. Our pre-made quizzes can be used as bell-ringers, exit tickets, and more!

In addition to our pre-made assessments, you can also use our assignments feature to create your own quizzes and assessments.

Summary on Concrete and Abstract Nouns

Concrete nouns identify something material and non-abstract that can be experienced by one or more of the five senses.

Abstract nouns identify something immaterial and abstract that cannot be experienced by any of the five senses.

Concrete and abstract nouns can be used in tandem with one another or separately. Be sure to check out our grammar course for more concrete and abstract noun practice.

You can also access over 3,400 high-quality questions that address nearly every grammatical concept.

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  • Grammar and Usage

What’s An Abstract Noun, And How Do You Use Them?

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You probably already know that a noun is a word that denotes a person, place, thing, or idea—this is a concept we learn relatively early in school. Needless to say, there are several different types of nouns that we use to depict everything we experience during our life: We eat food. We meet friends. We go to w ork. These types of nouns refer to the people and physical objects that we interact with.

So what about the things that we can’t physically see or touch? Aren’t words like victory, joy , and alliance nouns, too? Yes, they are. There is a term you may or may not remember from your grade-school days that we use to refer to such a thing: the abstract noun.

Related: Abstract vs. Concrete Language

What’s an Abstract Noun?

An abstract noun is “a noun that refers to something immaterial or abstract.” Another prevalent way to think about abstract nouns is that they refer to things you can’t experience with the five senses . You can’t touch, see, hear, smell, or taste, abstract nouns. Abstract nouns refer to intangible things, something that doesn’t exist as a physical object.

For instance, the word puppy refers to a cute animal. You can see and touch a puppy . The noun puppy is not an abstract noun. Oppositely, the word luck refers to a compound idea about how likely it is that good or bad events are going to occur to a person. Luck does not exist as a physical object; you can’t smell luck nor can you go to a store and buy it. Luck is an abstract noun because it denotes an immaterial concept rather than a physical object that we can experience with our senses.

Abstract Noun Examples

Unlike most other types of nouns, abstract nouns don’t refer to people or places. People and places are real things that do exist in the world. Even nouns that refer to fictional characters or places, such as King Kong or Neverland , are not, as reasoning goes, abstract nouns because these things would have a physical form if they were, in fact, real.

So, all abstract nouns are “things.” You must remember, though, that an abstract noun only refers to something intangible like emotions, concepts, ideas, and philosophies. Let’s stop being abstract and take a look at some distinct examples so we can better understand them.

Although we usually will say that we “feel” emotions, we don’t mean it literally. You “feel” emotions like sadness or anger as a thought in your mind or an activity in your brain and body. You can’t hold sadness in your hand or eat a bowl of happiness. You can see people or animals expressing those emotions through actions, but emotions are intangible objects. So this is why we refer to them with abstract nouns.

  • Examples: anger, sadness, surprise, disgust, joy, fear, happiness, anxiety, hope, confusion, relief

Ideas, concepts, and beliefs

Apart from emotions, they are also utilized to refer to other concepts and beliefs. This kind of abstract nouns gives names to complex topics and gives us a glimpse into a big piece of what makes us human—our brains! While abstract nouns are mostly common nouns, meaning that they refer to a general idea, they can also be proper nouns, like Christianity.  

  • Examples: Christianity, Islam, Cubism, government, dedication, cruelty, justice

A List of Abstract Nouns

To better understand, let’s look at a whole bunch more of them:

  • Stoicism, Marxism, religion, science, magnetism, creativity, invisibility, kindness, greed, laziness, effort, time, speed, concentration, confusion, dizziness, situation, existence, death, anarchy, law, democracy, relief, hopelessness, defeat, opportunity, technology, discovery, friendship, patience, decay, holiness, youth, childhood, experimentation, research

Definition of an abstract noun: a noun that refers to something immaterial or abstract

Difference Between an Abstract and Concrete Nouns

Grasping what abstract nouns are, exactly, can be difficult. While abstract nouns refer to things that are not tangible and without a physical form, all of the people, places, and things that actually do have a physical form are referred to by a certain kind of noun: a concrete noun. Unlike an abstract noun, concrete nouns actually can be experienced with all five senses: they can take a physical form rather than an image, say, in your mind’s eye of catness. You can smell a flower . You can touch a lamp. You can eat an apple. You can hear an alarm. You can see a hillside.  

So, your five senses can help you differentiate between abstract and concrete nouns. Keep in mind, words for fictional people, places, and things are deemed concrete nouns even though they don’t actually exist in our world. You might never be able to smell a zombie in everyday life, but you could if it were real—just remember to run if you ever do see one!

Related: Inanimate Object and Expressive Writing

Now let’s put your noun knowledge to the test with some sample sentences. Read every sentence and see if you can decide if each italicized noun is either abstract or concrete.

  • Billionaire Elon Musk is famous for his wealth.
  • Next month, we are going on vacation to Paris.
  • When I grow up, I wish to be a superhero.
  • She said that he’s possessed by a ghost.
  • This robot has many impressive abilities.
  • His blindness didn’t stop him from being successful.
  • She was attacked by a swarm of bees.
  • She sells seashells by the seashore.
  • They heard shouting from across the street.
  •  That girl only wants attention from her parents.

Answers: 1. Abstract 2. Concrete 3. Concrete 4. Concrete 5. Abstract 6. Abstract 7. Concrete 8. Concrete 9. Concrete 10. Abstract

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Home Abstract Nouns

Abstract Nouns

 Summary Overview

Common Nouns

 Proper Nouns

 Countable Nouns

Uncountable Nouns

Collective Nouns

Concrete Nouns

Compound Nouns

Summary Overview

Personal Pronouns

Possessive Pronouns

Reflexive pronouns

Demonstrative pronouns

Interrogative pronouns

Relative pronouns

Indefinite pronouns

Mixed Nouns

Test your noun knowledge with our fun and engaging nouns quiz., what are abstract nouns | examples, tip & trick, introduction.

In English grammar, abstract nouns refer to intangible concepts, ideas, or qualities that cannot be seen or touched physically. Examples of abstract nouns include happiness, love, justice, freedom, and courage. Understanding and using abstract nouns is essential for effective communication in both writing and speech. In this article, we will explore the importance of abstract nouns, their usage in different contexts, common mistakes to avoid, and some funny examples to illustrate their usage.

  • 1.1 Introduction
  • 1.2 Explanation of Abstract Nouns
  • 1.3 Table of Abstract Nouns
  • 1.4.1 Example in Simple Sentences
  • 1.4.2 Example in Complicated Sentences
  • 1.5.1 Using Abstract Nouns in Writing
  • 1.5.2 Using Abstract Nouns in Writing
  • 1.5.3 Common Mistakes to Avoid
  • 1.6 Short Sentence Examples of Abstract Nouns
  • 1.7.1 Download Free PDF

Explanation of Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns are nouns that refer to concepts, ideas, or qualities that cannot be seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted physical. They are often the opposite of concrete nouns, which are nouns that refer to objects or things that can be perceived through the senses. For example, while “tree” is a concrete noun that refers to a physical object, “happiness” is an abstract noun that refers to a feeling or state of mind.

Table of Abstract Nouns

Usage of abstract nouns.

Abstract nouns can be used in different contexts to express a wide range of ideas and emotions. Here are some examples of how abstract nouns are used in simple and complicated sentences:

Example in Simple Sentences

Love is the most powerful force in the world. Honesty is the best policy. Freedom is a basic human right.

Example in Complicated Sentences

The concept of democracy is based on the principles of freedom, equality, and justice for all citizens, regardless of their race, gender, or social status. The beauty of nature is often overlooked in our fast-paced and technology-driven society, where we tend to focus more on material wealth and consumerism.

Tips and Tricks for Using Abstract Nouns

Using abstract nouns effectively requires some skills and strategies. Here are some tips and tricks to help you use abstract nouns in your writing and speech:

Be precise: Use abstract nouns that accurately reflect the idea or concept you want to express. Avoid vague or ambiguous terms that can confuse or mislead your audience. Use metaphors and analogies: Abstract nouns can be difficult to grasp, especially for people who are not familiar with the context or topic. Using metaphors and analogies can help to clarify and illustrate abstract concepts in a more tangible and accessible way. Use examples and anecdotes: Concrete examples and real-life stories can help to make abstract concepts more relatable and memorable for your audience. Use contrasting pairs: Contrasting pairs are pairs of abstract nouns that are opposite in meaning but related in some way. Using contrasting pairs can help to create a sense of balance and harmony in your language.

Using Abstract Nouns in Writing

Abstract nouns are commonly used in academic and formal writing, such as essays, research papers, and reports. Here are some ways to use abstract nouns effectively in writing:

Use abstract nouns to convey complex ideas and concepts that require more than one word or phrase to express. For example, instead of saying “the idea that everyone is equal,” you can use the abstract noun “equality.” Use abstract nouns to express emotions and feelings that cannot be easily described by concrete nouns. For example, instead of saying “she felt sad,” you can use the abstract noun “sadness.” Use abstract nouns to establish the tone and style of your writing. For example, using abstract nouns such as “dignity,” “honor,” and “respect” can create a more formal and serious tone, while using abstract nouns such as “joy,” “excitement,” and “fun” can create a more informal and playful tone.

Abstract nouns are also used in speech to express ideas, emotions, and values. Here are some ways to use abstract nouns effectively in speech:

Use abstract nouns to express your opinions and beliefs about important issues, such as politics, religion, and social justice. For example, instead of saying “I think everyone should have equal rights,” you can use the abstract noun “justice.” Use abstract nouns to inspire and motivate your audience. For example, using abstract nouns such as “hope,” “dream,” and “vision” can encourage people to think about the future and strive for a better world. Use abstract nouns to create a sense of unity and community. For example, using abstract nouns such as “love,” “compassion,” and “empathy” can bring people together and promote mutual understanding and respect.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Using vague or ambiguous abstract nouns that do not accurately reflect the idea or concept you want to express. Overusing abstract nouns to the point where they become meaningless or repetitive. Using abstract nouns without providing concrete examples or explanations that help to clarify their meaning and relevance.

Correct: “Love is a powerful emotion that can inspire people to do great things.” Explanation: “Love” is an abstract noun because it refers to a feeling or concept rather than a physical object. This sentence is correct because it uses “love” as an abstract noun and provides additional information about it.

Incorrect: “I am feeling happiness after eating a delicious meal.” Explanation: “Happiness” is an abstract noun because it refers to a feeling or concept rather than a physical object. However, this sentence is incorrect because “feeling happiness” is an awkward construction. Instead, it would be more natural to say “I am happy after eating a delicious meal.” This uses the adjective form of the abstract noun “happiness” rather than the noun itself.

Short Sentence Examples of Abstract Nouns

Procrastination is my middle name. Awkwardness is my superpower. Happiness is a warm puppy, according to Charles Schulz.

FAQs About Abstract Nouns

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David Parker

David Parker

David's Master's degree in English, along with his exposure to diverse cultures and languages, makes him a valuable asset to the academic community. He is a proficient writer in his field of expertise, thanks to his educational background and interest in language and literature.

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Abstract nouns vs concrete nouns, abstract noun examples, formation of abstract nouns, worksheet: concrete vs abstract nouns, other interesting language articles, frequently asked questions.

Abstract nouns differ from concrete nouns in terms of what they describe:

  • Abstract nouns refer to anything that isn’t directly observable. That could mean personal qualities, measurements of time, cultural movements, or concepts.
  • Concrete nouns refer to what can be perceived with the senses: things, people, animals, and places.

The same word could often be interpreted as abstract or concrete depending on your perspective and on the context in which it is used. The distinction is often very subjective.

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Abstract nouns represent a wide variety of things – anything that isn’t represented by a concrete noun, in fact. The table below explores a few different categories of things that abstract nouns can refer to.

A lot (though not all) of the examples given in the previous section followed a few specific patterns in terms of the suffixes they ended with (e.g., ‘-ness’, ‘-ism’).

This is because abstract nouns are formed from adjectives , verbs , and other nouns in a number of standard ways. Common ways of forming abstract nouns are shown in the table below.

Want to test your understanding of the difference between concrete and abstract nouns? Try the worksheet below. Just decide whether each highlighted noun is concrete or abstract .

  • Practice questions
  • Answers and explanations
  • The dog seemed to enjoy its dinner .
  • The price of adhering to one’s principles can be high.
  • The name of my cat is Whiskers .
  • The foundations of the house have begun to sink due to a lack of maintenance .
  • My neighbour John has some questionable ideas about politics .
  • Both ‘dog’ and ‘dinner’ are concrete nouns , since they represent physical entities in the world.
  • ‘Price’ and ‘ principles ‘ are both abstract nouns because you can’t touch or see a principle or a price (although you might see something representing a price, so a noun like ‘price tag’ would be considered concrete).
  • The concept of a name is abstract. ‘Cat’ is a concrete noun because a cat is a physical being. ‘Whiskers’ is concrete whether you take it to mean the speaker’s cat or simply the word ‘Whiskers’ in its use as a name – both of these can be perceived with the senses.
  • ‘Foundations’ and ‘house’ both represent specific physical things and are therefore concrete nouns. ‘Lack’ and ‘maintenance’ are both more conceptual and are therefore abstract.
  • Both the common noun ‘neighbour’ and the proper noun ‘John’ (here used as an appositive ) are concrete nouns, since they refer to people. ‘Ideas’ and ‘politics’ are both abstract because they refer to concepts rather than physical things.

If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, common mistakes, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

Nouns & pronouns

  • Common nouns
  • Proper nouns
  • Collective nouns
  • Personal pronouns
  • Uncountable and countable nouns
  • Verb tenses
  • Phrasal verbs
  • Sentence structure
  • Active vs passive voice
  • Subject-verb agreement
  • Interjections
  • Determiners
  • Prepositions

There are many ways to categorize nouns into various types, and the same noun can fall into multiple categories or even change types depending on context.

Some of the main types of nouns are:

  • Common nouns and proper nouns
  • Countable and uncountable nouns
  • Concrete and abstract nouns
  • Possessive nouns
  • Attributive nouns
  • Appositive nouns
  • Generic nouns

An abstract noun is a noun describing something that can’t be directly perceived with the senses .

Abstract nouns may refer to general or philosophical concepts (e.g., “art,” “democracy,” “evidence”), emotions and personal qualities (e.g., “happiness,” “impatience”), time measurements (e.g., “hours,” “January”), or states of being (e.g., “solidity,” “instability”).

Abstract nouns are the opposite of concrete nouns , which refer to physical things that can be perceived with the senses: objects, substances, places, people and animals, and so on. For example, “window,” “Dorian,” and “sand.”

A concrete noun is a noun describing a physical entity that can be perceived with the senses . Concrete nouns may refer to things (e.g., “phone,” “hat”), places (e.g., “France,” “the post office”), or people and animals (e.g., “dog,” “doctor,” “Jamal”).

Concrete nouns are contrasted with abstract nouns , which refer to things that can’t be directly perceived—ideas, theories, concepts, and so on. Examples include “happiness,” “condemnation,” “ethics,” and “time.”

Sources for this article

We strongly encourage students to use sources in their work. You can cite our article (APA Style) or take a deep dive into the articles below.

Caulfield, J. (2023, April 18). Abstract Noun | Definition, Examples & Worksheet. Scribbr. Retrieved 22 February 2024, from https://www.scribbr.co.uk/nouns/abstract-nouns/
Aarts, B. (2011). Oxford modern English grammar . Oxford University Press.
Butterfield, J. (Ed.). (2015). Fowler’s dictionary of modern English usage (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.
Garner, B. A. (2016). Garner’s modern English usage (4th ed.). Oxford University Press.

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Concrete vs. Abstract Nouns – What’s the Difference?

Concrete vs. Abstract Nouns – What’s the Difference?

3-minute read

  • 21st April 2023

As the old rule goes, a noun is “a person, place, or thing.” But did you know that nouns can be divided into two distinct categories? Those types are concrete nouns and abstract nouns .

What’s the difference, and are there any rules on how to use them? Read on to find out.

Concrete Nouns

Concrete nouns are what you probably think of first when you think of nouns. They are tangible objects, places, and things that you can experience with at least one of your five senses – that is, you can see them, touch them, smell them, taste them, or hear them.

Examples of Concrete Nouns

To give you a better sense of what concrete nouns are, here are some examples:

Concrete nouns also include some proper nouns , such as names of people, places, and brands. Lucy , Kansas , and Twitter are all concrete nouns.

Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns are intangible things. They don’t take a physical form; rather, they’re a concept or an idea. Abstract nouns include emotions, beliefs, and qualities. Although you can, in a way, sense an abstract noun, such as by experiencing anger, it isn’t something you can actually engage with using any of the five senses.

We use abstract nouns all the time. Here’s a list of just a few:

Concrete nouns can also include some proper nouns, such as names of religions or events in history (e.g., Buddhism , Renaissance ).

Rules for Using Abstract and Concrete Nouns

Fortunately, although there is a difference between the two types of words, there are no separate rules for using concrete and abstract nouns. There are a few basic rules for using nouns in general, though:

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·  For all nouns, you need to follow subject–verb agreement (i.e., using the plural form of a verb for plural nouns and the singular form for singular nouns).

·  You should usually capitalize proper nouns (with exceptions, such as eBay).

·  For nouns beginning with consonant sounds, use the article “a,” while for nouns beginning with a vowel sound, you need the article “an.”

Summary: Concrete vs. Abstract Nouns

If you’re uncertain whether a word is a concrete or abstract noun, ask yourself if it can be experienced with any of the five senses on a physical level. For example, the only way we may “see” or “feel” freedom is by noticing its consequences; therefore, it’s an abstract noun.

If you need help with your use of nouns – or just words in general – our expert editors are here to help. They’ll check your work for grammar, spelling, punctuation, and more. Submit a free sample of your work to try it out!

Frequently Asked Questions

What are concrete nouns.

Concrete nouns are tangible people, places, and things: Grandma , school , pizza.

What are abstract nouns?

Abstract nouns are intangible things, such as concepts and ideas: sadness , peace , feminism.

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  • How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples

How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples

Published on February 28, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 18, 2023 by Eoghan Ryan.

How to Write an Abstract

An abstract is a short summary of a longer work (such as a thesis ,  dissertation or research paper ). The abstract concisely reports the aims and outcomes of your research, so that readers know exactly what your paper is about.

Although the structure may vary slightly depending on your discipline, your abstract should describe the purpose of your work, the methods you’ve used, and the conclusions you’ve drawn.

One common way to structure your abstract is to use the IMRaD structure. This stands for:

  • Introduction

Abstracts are usually around 100–300 words, but there’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check the relevant requirements.

In a dissertation or thesis , include the abstract on a separate page, after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .

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Table of contents

Abstract example, when to write an abstract, step 1: introduction, step 2: methods, step 3: results, step 4: discussion, tips for writing an abstract, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about abstracts.

Hover over the different parts of the abstract to see how it is constructed.

This paper examines the role of silent movies as a mode of shared experience in the US during the early twentieth century. At this time, high immigration rates resulted in a significant percentage of non-English-speaking citizens. These immigrants faced numerous economic and social obstacles, including exclusion from public entertainment and modes of discourse (newspapers, theater, radio).

Incorporating evidence from reviews, personal correspondence, and diaries, this study demonstrates that silent films were an affordable and inclusive source of entertainment. It argues for the accessible economic and representational nature of early cinema. These concerns are particularly evident in the low price of admission and in the democratic nature of the actors’ exaggerated gestures, which allowed the plots and action to be easily grasped by a diverse audience despite language barriers.

Keywords: silent movies, immigration, public discourse, entertainment, early cinema, language barriers.

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You will almost always have to include an abstract when:

  • Completing a thesis or dissertation
  • Submitting a research paper to an academic journal
  • Writing a book or research proposal
  • Applying for research grants

It’s easiest to write your abstract last, right before the proofreading stage, because it’s a summary of the work you’ve already done. Your abstract should:

  • Be a self-contained text, not an excerpt from your paper
  • Be fully understandable on its own
  • Reflect the structure of your larger work

Start by clearly defining the purpose of your research. What practical or theoretical problem does the research respond to, or what research question did you aim to answer?

You can include some brief context on the social or academic relevance of your dissertation topic , but don’t go into detailed background information. If your abstract uses specialized terms that would be unfamiliar to the average academic reader or that have various different meanings, give a concise definition.

After identifying the problem, state the objective of your research. Use verbs like “investigate,” “test,” “analyze,” or “evaluate” to describe exactly what you set out to do.

This part of the abstract can be written in the present or past simple tense  but should never refer to the future, as the research is already complete.

  • This study will investigate the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • This study investigates the relationship between coffee consumption and productivity.

Next, indicate the research methods that you used to answer your question. This part should be a straightforward description of what you did in one or two sentences. It is usually written in the past simple tense, as it refers to completed actions.

  • Structured interviews will be conducted with 25 participants.
  • Structured interviews were conducted with 25 participants.

Don’t evaluate validity or obstacles here — the goal is not to give an account of the methodology’s strengths and weaknesses, but to give the reader a quick insight into the overall approach and procedures you used.

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abstract noun writing

Next, summarize the main research results . This part of the abstract can be in the present or past simple tense.

  • Our analysis has shown a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • Our analysis shows a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.
  • Our analysis showed a strong correlation between coffee consumption and productivity.

Depending on how long and complex your research is, you may not be able to include all results here. Try to highlight only the most important findings that will allow the reader to understand your conclusions.

Finally, you should discuss the main conclusions of your research : what is your answer to the problem or question? The reader should finish with a clear understanding of the central point that your research has proved or argued. Conclusions are usually written in the present simple tense.

  • We concluded that coffee consumption increases productivity.
  • We conclude that coffee consumption increases productivity.

If there are important limitations to your research (for example, related to your sample size or methods), you should mention them briefly in the abstract. This allows the reader to accurately assess the credibility and generalizability of your research.

If your aim was to solve a practical problem, your discussion might include recommendations for implementation. If relevant, you can briefly make suggestions for further research.

If your paper will be published, you might have to add a list of keywords at the end of the abstract. These keywords should reference the most important elements of the research to help potential readers find your paper during their own literature searches.

Be aware that some publication manuals, such as APA Style , have specific formatting requirements for these keywords.

It can be a real challenge to condense your whole work into just a couple of hundred words, but the abstract will be the first (and sometimes only) part that people read, so it’s important to get it right. These strategies can help you get started.

Read other abstracts

The best way to learn the conventions of writing an abstract in your discipline is to read other people’s. You probably already read lots of journal article abstracts while conducting your literature review —try using them as a framework for structure and style.

You can also find lots of dissertation abstract examples in thesis and dissertation databases .

Reverse outline

Not all abstracts will contain precisely the same elements. For longer works, you can write your abstract through a process of reverse outlining.

For each chapter or section, list keywords and draft one to two sentences that summarize the central point or argument. This will give you a framework of your abstract’s structure. Next, revise the sentences to make connections and show how the argument develops.

Write clearly and concisely

A good abstract is short but impactful, so make sure every word counts. Each sentence should clearly communicate one main point.

To keep your abstract or summary short and clear:

  • Avoid passive sentences: Passive constructions are often unnecessarily long. You can easily make them shorter and clearer by using the active voice.
  • Avoid long sentences: Substitute longer expressions for concise expressions or single words (e.g., “In order to” for “To”).
  • Avoid obscure jargon: The abstract should be understandable to readers who are not familiar with your topic.
  • Avoid repetition and filler words: Replace nouns with pronouns when possible and eliminate unnecessary words.
  • Avoid detailed descriptions: An abstract is not expected to provide detailed definitions, background information, or discussions of other scholars’ work. Instead, include this information in the body of your thesis or paper.

If you’re struggling to edit down to the required length, you can get help from expert editors with Scribbr’s professional proofreading services or use the paraphrasing tool .

Check your formatting

If you are writing a thesis or dissertation or submitting to a journal, there are often specific formatting requirements for the abstract—make sure to check the guidelines and format your work correctly. For APA research papers you can follow the APA abstract format .

Checklist: Abstract

The word count is within the required length, or a maximum of one page.

The abstract appears after the title page and acknowledgements and before the table of contents .

I have clearly stated my research problem and objectives.

I have briefly described my methodology .

I have summarized the most important results .

I have stated my main conclusions .

I have mentioned any important limitations and recommendations.

The abstract can be understood by someone without prior knowledge of the topic.

You've written a great abstract! Use the other checklists to continue improving your thesis or dissertation.

If you want to know more about AI for academic writing, AI tools, or research bias, make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!

Research bias

  • Anchoring bias
  • Halo effect
  • The Baader–Meinhof phenomenon
  • The placebo effect
  • Nonresponse bias
  • Deep learning
  • Generative AI
  • Machine learning
  • Reinforcement learning
  • Supervised vs. unsupervised learning

 (AI) Tools

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An abstract is a concise summary of an academic text (such as a journal article or dissertation ). It serves two main purposes:

  • To help potential readers determine the relevance of your paper for their own research.
  • To communicate your key findings to those who don’t have time to read the whole paper.

Abstracts are often indexed along with keywords on academic databases, so they make your work more easily findable. Since the abstract is the first thing any reader sees, it’s important that it clearly and accurately summarizes the contents of your paper.

An abstract for a thesis or dissertation is usually around 200–300 words. There’s often a strict word limit, so make sure to check your university’s requirements.

The abstract is the very last thing you write. You should only write it after your research is complete, so that you can accurately summarize the entirety of your thesis , dissertation or research paper .

Avoid citing sources in your abstract . There are two reasons for this:

  • The abstract should focus on your original research, not on the work of others.
  • The abstract should be self-contained and fully understandable without reference to other sources.

There are some circumstances where you might need to mention other sources in an abstract: for example, if your research responds directly to another study or focuses on the work of a single theorist. In general, though, don’t include citations unless absolutely necessary.

The abstract appears on its own page in the thesis or dissertation , after the title page and acknowledgements but before the table of contents .

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, July 18). How to Write an Abstract | Steps & Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved February 23, 2024, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/abstract/

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    An abstract noun is a noun that refers to an intangible concept such as an emotion, a feeling, a quality, or an idea. In other words, an abstract noun does not refer to a physical object.

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    Nouns are naming words, clauses, or phrases that you can use to refer to a person, place, or thing. All nouns can be singular or plural; proper or common; countable or non-countable, and so on. Abstract nouns are the opposite of concrete nouns. They refer to non-physical things that cannot be sensed. Here are some categories of this type of noun:

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