Abstract Nouns

We all communicate with abstraction at times.  Though abstract nouns don’t convey things we can experience with our senses – we can’t feel, touch, see, hear, or taste them – they allow us to express important meaning, nonetheless.

Being able to recognize and use abstract nouns is important, especially in written communication.  While abstract nouns can convey deep emotion, the writer runs the risk of not clearly expressing his or her meaning.  Things get lost in translation so to speak. Since abstract words are by definition abstract, they can mean different things to different people, so take care to make sure your writing using concrete nouns for clarification. Generally speaking, sentences comprised largely of concrete nouns are more clear and concise.

What is an Abstract Noun?

Abstract nouns are the opposite of concrete nouns – nouns that refer to objects you can experience with your five senses.  Abstract nouns are intangible.  They can identify concepts, experiences, ideas, qualities, and feeling.

Examples of Abstract Nouns

In some cases, it’s a little difficult to recognize when a noun is abstract. Some nouns can function as verbs and abstract nouns are no exception.

For example, see how the word “fear” is used in the following two sentences.

I fear the night.

(In this sentence, fear shows action so it’s a verb.)

The night was shrouded in fear.

(In this sentence, fear is an abstract noun because you can’t physically touch, feel, hear, taste, smell, or see it.)

List of Abstract Nouns

Below is a list of common abstract nouns.

Love Anger Hate
Peace Loyalty Integrity
Pride Courage Deceit
Honesty Trust Compassion
Bravery Misery Childhood
Knowledge Patriotism Friendship
Brilliance Truth Charity
Justice Faith Kindness
Pleasure Liberty Freedom
Delight Despair Hope
Awe Calm Joy
Reality Wisdom

Though the above list is by no means exhaustive, it should start you thinking about the power of abstract words and how to use them in your writing. But hopefully you won’t think too abstractly!