There are various types of nouns. Typically, any person, place, or thing is considered a noun. This is the definition given to children who are learning this part of speech for the first time.
However, this simple explanation is missing an important category of nouns: abstract nouns! These are generally not taught to children because they are more difficult to understand. However, that is nothing to be afraid of!
What is an Abstract Noun
An abstract noun is a noun that is not physical. It describes something that might or might not be real, but either way cannot be touched or seen. Things that come out of the abstract noun may be touched and seen, but the abstract noun itself cannot.
The most common examples of abstract nouns are time and feelings. They are real, but they cannot be seen or felt. You can see time passing when the clock turns to the next minute, but that is simply a representation of time, not the noun itself. In addition, feelings are the same way.
If someone feels happiness or sadness, you can know it exists and is real because that person smiles or cries. However, what you see is how those emotions are expressed, not the emotions themselves. They are abstract nouns.
Abstract Noun Examples
There is a myriad of abstract nouns, even if they do not immediately come to mind. Many of them are ideas, concepts, and feelings. The list below shows some of the most commonly seen abstract nouns.
Abstract nouns list
Abstract vs Concrete Nouns
The nouns that fall into the definition of young English students are far from abstract nouns. In fact, they are the opposite: concrete nouns.
Concrete nouns are things, people, and places that you can see (and usually touch). This includes food, puzzles, clothes, the park, the airport, your family members, and your teachers. All of these are things that you can point to, go to, and touch.