Usage of Abstract Nouns in Language


There is an important difference between abstract and concrete nouns in the English language. In order to use the former correctly both in writing and in conversational speech, you will have to find out some of their distinctive features. Why not do it with our professional editing services? Learning grammar on this website is a great idea because we can boast the knowledge not only of common rules and exceptions from them. Our company can also share handy secrets to learning grammar, which later on can be easily applied in practice. So, get ready for some professional advice on the topic of abstract nouns.

What is an abstract noun

The grammar category of an abstract noun can be clearly defined, unlike such nouns themselves. Abstract nouns name something that one cannot physically interact with: touch, see or taste. They convey intangible concepts, which do not have any physical form in the world.

However, even philologists cannot always decide for sure whether a noun is abstract or concrete. Take, for instance, the concept of result. Results differ from situation to situation. In some cases they are represented on paper or as a physical object. Then a result is a concrete noun without a shadow of a doubt. But if a result is only an idea or a state, then what? This question remains open, as do other philosophical dilemmas in the vein “which came first: the chicken or the egg.” Feel free to contribute to the issue, while we move on to the problem of defining abstract nouns.

How people give definitions to abstract nouns

Given that abstract nouns do not acquire any physical form, providing them with suitable definitions is a more demanding task than to define concrete nouns. Whereas people can simply describe the latter, indicating their color, shape, size and so on, it is not that easy with abstract notions. That is why definitions of abstract nouns may differ from dictionary to dictionary, and they may focus on different aspects.

So, do not be surprised to find a whole bunch of similar or even diverse definitions of the same abstract noun while writing a university paper. It is up to every individual student to stick with the definition he or she likes most. Later on we will also mention why it is important to insert references in such cases.

Common abstract nouns in English

Abstract nouns are likely to describe or name these types of concepts:

  • feelings and emotions: love, hatred, affection, sympathy, stress, pleasure, pain;
  • events: holidays, birthday, vacation, marriage, divorce;
  • features of human character: courage, boldness, honesty, generosity, kindness, patience;
  • states: chaos, liberty, war, peace, freedom, optimism;
  • they can also be terms that describe characteristics of physical objects: speed, parallelism, acceleration, loudness, magnetism, symmetry.

There are a lot of examples, but we think you got the main idea. Before continuing with the next part of this article, we suggest taking a look at these posts with further academic advice available in public on our proofreading website:

Rules of using abstract nouns in academic English

Royal Editing always struggles to help you make essays and papers perfect (for example, check out these tips how to make an essay outstanding: Right now we will inspect the issue from the standpoint of using abstract nouns in academic writing, and doing in properly. They are frequent guests in different areas of science – from linguistics to physics, so it is vital to master these words once and for all. Of course, everything must correspond to basic grammar rules that English has. To make it easier, we have prepared a useful guide.

First of all, uncountable abstract nouns are likely to be used without indefinite articles. It is a common grammar rule according to which the indefinite article can be crossed out right away if a person cannot count what he or she is talking about. But there is always a “but.” We do leave space for the article when talking about nuances of meaning; thus, you can say “The girl felt a nagging sadness,” meaning that this was not sadness in general, but rather a very specific form of it. Fiction writers use this device a lot to give a special charm to their style, but it is unlikely for students to benefit much from this exception.

The definite article appears when an uncountable abstract noun was mentioned before, or when people know exactly what they are talking about. So, here the rules are pretty the same as with other words in English.

Finally, countable abstract nouns require the same rules of article usage as concrete ones:

  • Lizzy has a very unusual dream for a girl of her age.
  • In the middle of the night a brilliant idea came to his mind.
  • The methods they use in that lab are not working.
  • How did you like the thought that the professor expressed yesterday?

When putting an abstract noun in an academic essay, it is a good idea to insert its definition, too. Make use of any online dictionaries that offer reliable information to add a reference in the text. References are important since if you fail to include them, yet quote some source (even if it is a dictionary) within an essay anyway, the paper will have problems with plagiarism.

How to check yourself

Once the essay is written, and all the formalities as to the use of abstract nouns in the English language have been preserved, it is time to check whether you did it all right. Revision and editing are popular things to talk about in college circles, but not all people are innate editors, so even detailed guides to academic editing that are so abundant on the web sometimes may fail. What should one do in this case?

Well, there are always several options: asking friends or relatives for help, improving your own grammar knowledge or even disregarding the editing at all. We suggest the method that has proven to be the most effective out of all. It is professional paper editing services. They can deal with a whole set of common and unique students’ mistakes, and these are not confined to merely abstract nouns. Thus, if a student chooses to get a paper improved at Royal Editing, we guarantee making all these amendments:

  • enhancing the style of the text; making it academical, logical and consistent;
  • improving the essay structure by means of adding necessary transitions;
  • getting rid of grammatical errors and misspelled words;
  • checking whether all the words are employed in accordance with their meanings (it includes abstract nouns as well);
  • adjusting the formatting so that it meets the requirements of a certain quotation style;
  • checking all the references across the text and adding the ones which are missing.

What is more, you will not have to waste your own precious time on all these amendments. Did you know that the ability to successfully delegate duties to others is one of the key factors of success? It is the foundation of effective time management. To read more about the latter from the essay writing point of view, follow this link:

So, let’s sum up everything you have learnt from this article. There are two different types of nouns in English – abstract and concrete. The former name ideas, events, feelings, emotions and other concepts that people can neither see not touch. Giving definitions to these nouns can be rather controversial as one does not know for sure which aspect of their meaning is the most important. If you choose to include abstract nouns in an academic essay, or the topic itself suggests resorting to them, make sure to follow all the rules of using articles in English and insert proper references from dictionaries when providing definitions. Our editing company is always ready to help with the final stage of creating an essay. We offer cheap yet quality editing and proofreading for students of all years. Start changing your life today with professional assistance of ours!

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