Nouns : Abstract Nouns


Nouns : Abstract Nouns

An abstract noun is a word which names something that cannot be experienced by the five senses.  You cannot see, hear, touch, smell, or taste.

Abstract nouns can be hard to spot. Take for example ‘laughter’. There is a point of view that says it is an abstract noun, a concept; others maintain that because you can hear it, it can not be an abstract noun…

Other similar examples exist, but it is not worth the worry of trying to figure it out. The best thing you can probably do is to arm your pupils with a list of confirmed abstract nouns and teach them the principle behind them being such.

Common Abstract Nouns

Showing Human Qualities or Characteristics

beauty, bravery, brilliance, brutality. calm, charity, coldness, compassion, confidence, contentment, courage, curiosity, dedication, determination, ego, elegance, enthusiasm, envy, evil, fear, generosity, goodness, graciousness, hatred, honesty, honour, hope, humility, humour insanity, integrity, intelligence, jealousy, kindness, loyalty, maturity, patience, perseverance, sanity, self-control,  sensitivity, sophistication, stupidity, sympathy, talent, tolerance, trust, weakness, wisdom, wit

Showing Emotions/Feeling

adoration, amazement, anger, anxiety apprehension, clarity, delight, despair, disappointment, disbelief, excitement, fascination, friendship, grief, happiness, hate, helpfulness, helplessness, infatuation, joy, love, misery, pain, pleasure, power, pride, relaxation, relief, romance, sadness, satisfaction, silliness, sorrow, strength, surprise, tiredness, uncertainty, wariness, weariness, worry

More Examples of Abstract Nouns

ability, adventure, artistry, awe, belief , chaos, comfort, communication, consideration, crime, culture, customer service, death, deceit, defeat, democracy, dexterity, dictatorship, disquiet, disturbance, dream, energy, enhancement, failure, faith, faithfulness, faithlessness, favouritism, forgiveness, fragility, frailty, freedom, grace, hearsay, homelessness, hurt, idea, idiosyncrasy, imagination, impression, improvement, inflation, information, justice, knowledge, law, liberty, life, loss, luck, luxury, memory, mercy, motivation, movement, need, omen, opinion, opportunism, opportunity, parenthood, patriotism, peace, peculiarity, poverty, principle, reality, redemption, refreshment, riches, rumour, service, shock, skill, slavery, sleep, speculation, speed, strictness, submission, success, thought, thrill, truth, unemployment, unreality, victory, wealth.

There is this useful  word list of abstract nouns with definitions which, in addition to simply defining their meaning, demonstrates how abstract nouns are used in context, .

Nouns : Compound Nouns

Nouns : Compound Nouns

A compound noun is a noun that is made up of at least two words: firewood, pet shop, jack-in-the-box, blackboard,post office, six-pack

There are three forms for compound nouns:

  • With Spaces: ice cream, water tank, printer cartridge
  • Without Spaces: footprint, stopwatch, suitcase
  • With Hyphens: merry-go-round, passer-by, daughter-in-law

There are no hard and fast rules on which form to use. Just be aware that many of the words exist in more than one form.

You’ll just have to look them up if there is any doubt, Google is as good as anywhere…

Composition of Compound Nouns

Though there is no need for pupils of primary school age to be aware of any of what follows, I have included it for interest’s sake…

Most compound nouns are made up of two nouns or an adjective and a noun. For example:

  • Noun + Noun: bath tub, witchcraft, seaman, wall-paper
  • Adjective + Noun: hardware, highway, full moon, whiteboard
Compound elements Examples
noun + noun bedroom
water tank
printer cartridge
noun + verb rainfall
noun + adverb hanger-on
verb + noun washing machine
driving licence
swimming pool
verb + adverb lookout
adverb + noun onlooker
adjective + verb dry-cleaning
public speaking
adjective + noun greenhouse
adverb + verb output

Nouns : Common Nouns & Proper Nouns

Nouns : Common Nouns & Proper Nouns

A noun is a kind of word that gives a name to  a person, a place, an object, an animal, a substance, a quantity, a period of time, a distance; the list goes on.

Everything around us is represented by a word that gives it its name and that word is called a noun.

The first major distinction to draw is between common nouns and supermarket.

Common Nouns

The common noun, is by far the largest group of nouns. The job of the common noun is to give a name to the everyday things all around us. Take a look around your surroundings and make a list of objects which you can see, the list will most likely be made up entirely of common nouns : chair, table, floor, pen, ceiling, ruler, paper, floor, tree, grass – the list is virtually endless…

Common nouns do NOT get capital letters.

P:roper Nouns

A proper noun is the name given to a specific person, place, object, animal, etc : Susan, London, Blackpool Tower, Rex).

Proper nouns ALWAYS get capital letters.

 Common Noun Proper  Noun
car Jaguar, Land Rover, Fiesta
forest Forest of Dean
cat, dog, budgie Tiddles, Fido, Joey
sea, ocean North Sea, Atlantic Ocean
pub The Blacksmith’s Arms
monarch Queen Elizabeth II
supermarket Tesco, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s
tea PG Tips, Yorkshire Tea
cola Pepsie, Coke

Common nouns may be further subdivided into a number of categories; all common nouns will fall into at least one of these categories, For the purposes of the primary school classroom (in addition to common nouns and proper nouns) if a student can identify compound, collective and abstract nouns this is probably sufficient. The others have been included for the sake of completeness and interest:

  • compound nouns
  • collective nouns
  • abstract nouns
  • concrete nouns
  • countable nouns
  • non-countable nouns
  • gender specific nouns
  • verbal nouns
  • gerunds

Nouns : Gender

Nouns : Gender

Generally speaking, there is no distinction between masculine and  feminine when it comes to nouns in English.

However, gender is sometimes shown by different forms or different words when referring to some people or animals people or animals.

Masculine Feminine Gender neutral
man woman person
father mother parent
boy girl child
uncle aunt
husband wife spouse
actor actress  actor
prince princess
king queen monarch
waiter waitress server
cockerel hen chicken
stallion mare horse
bull cow cow
buck doe rabbit or deer

Many nouns that refer to people’s roles and jobs can be used for either a masculine or a feminine subject, like for example cousin, teenager, teacher, doctor, student, friend, colleague

  • Helen is my colleague. She is a teacher.
  • Phillip is doctor. He is my friend.
  • Darren is my cousin. He is a student.
  • Jenny is my cousin. She is a student.

Sometimes as a term of endearment non gender specific nouns are given gendered pronouns.

  • Dad loves his old sport scar . He takes her (the car) for a spin every Saturday;
  • Britain is popular with her (Britains’s) neighbours since the Brexit referendum.
  • Cruised across the Atlantic in the QEII ; she (the QEII ) is a fabulous ship.

Pronouns : Relative Pronouns

Relative Pronouns

 A relative pronoun is a pronoun that introduces an adjective clause.

In English, the relative pronouns are thatwhich, where, who, whomwhose.

  • Who and whom refer to people.
  • Which refers to things.
  • That and whose refer to people or things.

A relative pronoun is used to start an adjectival clause which describes a noun (also called a relative clause.).

The description comes after the noun to either identify it or give more information about it…

Identifying the noun
  • The man who invented zips became very rich.
  • I recognised  the car which was involved in the accident.
  • We did not see the dog that attacked our rabbit.

Be aware that a fair proportion of your readers will not like you using that for people. It is good advice to avoid using that for people, especially in formal writing.

Note : colloquially, that is often used to represent a person or people and who is used to represent an animal or animals; though neither is technically correct they seem to be commonly accepted… one for the Grammar Nazis, eh?

 Providing more information
  • My friend, whose birthday it is, will meet us at the cinema.
  • My dad’s car, which was covered in mud, was parked outside the house.
  • The elephant that was the biggest led the parade.
Who or whom?

The use who or whom depends upon whether the noun that is being replaces is the subject or the object of the verb. If the replaced noun is the subject of the sentence then we use who

  • The child who came first won a trophy.
  • The girl who was the teacher’s favourite was allowed out to play early.

if the replaced noun is the object of the sentence we use whom

  • The panel selected a winner, to whom they awarded the £5000 prize.
  • Phillip was the boy whom my mum really disliked.

Pronouns : Reciprocal Pronouns

Reciprocal Pronouns

A reciprocal pronoun expresses a mutual action or relationship. The reciprocal pronouns are: each other and one another:

Here are some examples of reciprocal pronouns:

  • The cat and dog hate each other.
  • After they lost the players started fighting with one another.
  • The bride and groom made vows to each other.
  • The boys had exactly the same answers but swore they had not seen each other’s papers.
Each other or one another?

Here’s the quick answer: If the total number of those involved is two animals, people, things or any combination then use each other.

If the total number of those involved is more than two, then useuse one another.

(The ‘posh’ word for those involved is antecedents – i.e. those that have gone before)

  • The cat and dog hate each other.
  • Red wine and cheese complement each other.

In the above examples, the antecedent is two things so we use each other as the reciprocal pronoun.

When the antecedent is three or more things, use one another:

  • There must have been at least a dozen dogs howling at one another.
  • As the clock struck midnight the crowd wished one another Happy New Year.
Each other’s and one another’s NEVER Each others’ and one anothers’

The pronouns each other and one another are treated as singular entities – weird I know,  but there it is. So, to show possession, the apostrophe always comes before the final s.

This is not negotiable it is an absolute rule.

  • Dad and uncle Joe were jealous of each other’s cars.
  • All the monkeys at the zoo were picking insects from one another’s hairy backs.

If one of the children ever picks you up for using the wrong reciprocal pronoun, high five your TA, break out the brandy and cigars, your work is done… 😀

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