abstract nouns

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chinamike

Member
chinese-english
what does "abstract nouns" actually mean? Isn't "thought" a abstract noun and "uncountable" ? why is there a word like"thoughts"?
Thanks !
 
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    "Abstract" nouns are not necessarily "uncountable" nouns. And vice versa.

    Abstract nouns are non-entities in the physical world but can be countable, as you see in the case of "thoughts" and many others.

    On the other hand, "cheese" is not an abstract noun - it is there, it is physical, you can eat it - but it is uncountable.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Not necessarily. For example, one may have three different cheeses in one's refrigerator, and one may admire the many cheeses of France.
    I do happen to know that, but how exhaustive must a thread answer be? :) The same goes for most other uncountable physical nouns but I was trying to explain the (lack of) dependence between "abstract" and "uncountable".
     

    Alxmrphi

    Senior Member
    UK English
    I do happen to know that, but how exhaustive must a thread answer be? :) The same goes for most other uncountable physical nouns but I was trying to explain the (lack of) dependence between "abstract" and "uncountable".
    And you did it well boozer.
    Most uncountable nouns can be used in a countable sense to give the meaning "types of <>". It doesn't make the noun alone any less uncountable in an ordinary sense.

    Rules about countability and uncountability are quite vague in an introduction to the concept, you have to fine tune you're understanding as the level of English gets better.
    It is often said "uncountable = abstract", because it's important for the learner to slowly understand the idea.
     

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Life is full of surprises. :)

    Again:
    Some nouns are abstract - surprise, thought, information.

    Some nouns are not abstract but physical/tangible - chair, cheese, bread, window.

    There are countable nouns - thought, chair, window, surprise, etc.

    There are uncountable nouns - cheese, information, bread, etc.

    Of those, there nouns that are both countable and abstract - thought, surprise.
    There are nouns that are uncountable and abstract - information
    Some are countable and non-abstract - chair, window
    Others are uncountable and non-abstract - cheese, bread

    Conclusion: countable and abstract is not the same thing. Whoever told you they are made a big mistake.

    On top of that, there are nouns that are abstract but can be both countable and uncountable, but I think you should not go there yet. :)
     
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