What is an Abstract Noun? - Definition & Examples

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  • 0:03 What is an Abstract Noun?
  • 0:34 Examples of Abstract Nouns
  • 1:10 Usage
  • 1:34 Capitalization of…
  • 2:21 Pronouns
  • 2:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

Abstract nouns name a quality or an idea. These words cannot be experienced with the five senses; instead, these nouns symbolize abstract concepts such as charity, hatred, and justice.

What Is an Abstract Noun?

An abstract noun names a quality or an idea. Abstract nouns are nouns that name abstract concepts, or concepts that cannot be experienced with the senses. In contrast, concrete nouns name things that we can know by our senses (mosquito, grass, bacon, etc.)

We can think of an abstract noun as being similar to an abstract painting. Both abstract nouns and abstract art represent ideas instead of concrete objects.

Examples of Abstract Nouns

Examples of abstract nouns include liberty, anger, freedom, love, generosity, charity, and democracy. Notice that these nouns express ideas, concepts, or qualities that cannot be seen or experienced. We cannot see, hear, touch, taste, or smell these concepts.

If we return to the comparison of abstract nouns to abstract art, you can see that it would be difficult to paint an abstract concept like liberty. We might be able to paint something that represents liberty, though.

Usage

Like other nouns, abstract nouns can be used as the subject or object in a sentence. For example, the word anger is an abstract noun used as the subject of the following sentence:

Anger is a not a productive response to criticism.

In the following sentence, the abstract noun hope functions as the direct object:

We must never lose hope.

Capitalization of Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns are typically not capitalized when they occur within a sentence. Notice that the abstract noun liberty is not capitalized in the following sentence:

'Give me liberty or give me death!' Patrick Henry declared.

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