Abstract Nouns

Abstract nouns refer to a state quality or feeling. They cannot be perceived by any of the five senses.

The following resources are designed to be used when you are introducing this concept.  You will find:

  1. a "What are abstract nouns poster" that has a handy definition
  2. an abstract nouns list
  3. four worksheets 
  4. twelve activity ideas                                           

What are Abstract Nouns? -  Poster

This "What is an Abstract Noun?" poster outlines a simple definition - Abstract nouns refer to a state, a quality or a feeling.  They cannot be perceived by any of the five senses.

One or two students can colour in the poster and it can be put on a notice board or in a writing area.  The whole class can discuss what the five senses are and look at the definition more closely.  

Abstract nouns cannot be perceived by the five senses means that they can't be seen, touched, smelt, heard or tasted. If students want to know if a noun is abstract or not they simply ask if it can be seen, touched, smelt, heard or tasted.  If it can't then it must be an abstract noun.

Abstract Nouns List

Here is a list of 100 examples.  Print out A4 versions and students can glue them in their books.  

Print out an A3 version and it can be put on the classroom wall or in the writing area.  

A simple rotating writing activity is to put the list in the middle of a table and ask students to write a sentence with two of the words in it and then draw an illustration to go with it.


Here are four worksheets that you can use with your students.  

1. In this worksheet students circle the abstract nouns hidden in the picture, fill in the words missing in the sentences, unscramble the mixed up abstract nouns, write opposite versions and write similar versions.

This worksheet is designed for upper primary students.  

To extend on this worksheet create some of your own versions of the questions on the board or ask your students to create some of their own.

2. In this fun abstract noun coloring page students can slow down and relax while they explore abstract nouns.  Students can color each word a different color and if their is time cut them out and then use them in sentences in their workbooks.

3. In this worksheet students color in the words and then glue them into their workbook in alphabetical order.  

To extend on this activity ask students to draw two more examples and glue them in as well or write 10 more examples on the board and ask your students to write them in their books in alphabetical order.

4. In this worksheet students circle the abstract nouns, color in two examples, write two sentences and provide four examples.  This worksheet is designed for middle primary students.

Twelve Activity Ideas

If you want your students to be able to identify and really understand abstract nouns then your students need to spend time playing with them. Here are 12 classroom activities that will get your students exploring abstract nouns.

1. What Word am I Acting Out

List 10 abstract nouns on the board and ask 1 or 2 students at a time to come out the front and act them out. For a fun twist, the student at the front could be shown the word and the class must guess what it is.

If the class is enjoying this activity you can explore it further.  Ask each student to write a word on a piece of paper.  All the words are put in a container and then used for the game. 

Older students can write a whole sentence to be put in the container and two or three students can act it out.  For example, The girls were disappointed when their ball went over the fence

2. What is the Opposite of This Word? 

Write 10 abstract nouns on the board and ask your students to write an abstract noun that has the opposite meaning. Here are 10 words you could use: trust, stupidity, sanity, pride, beauty, calm, crime, curiosity, laughter and happiness.

3. Feeling, Idea and Quality - Which One?

Abstract nouns are always a feeling, idea or quality.  Write 3 headings on the board: Feelings, Ideas, and Qualities. Challenge your students to list abstract nouns under each heading.

This works especially well with small groups competing against each other -give them 30 minutes and a large poster size sheet of paper to write the lists on.  Start with two or three words under each heading to get them started.

4. Happiness is like........

Many abstract nouns refer to feelings. Challenge your students to think of similes for happiness and unhappiness. Let them think of the words on their own for a few minutes and then let them look in a thesaurus.

They should come up with words like joy, delight, satisfaction, excitement, cheerfulness, enjoyment, contentment, glee, and laughter for happiness and sadness, disappointment, misery, sorrow, depression and gloom for unhappiness.

If this is to difficult for your students write examples on the board for them to put into the two groups (happiness/sadness)

5. Abstract and Concrete Partners

Write sentences that combine the abstract nouns with concrete words.

For example, affection is like a night light. Ask your students to write or discuss reasons why this is so. Their suggestions may be that they both make you feel safe, help you see obstacles, need to be powered by something, don't cost very much and come in all different shapes.

You could try, isolation is like a cheesy pizza, happiness is like a new book or freedom is like a warty toad.

6. Jumble up the Letters

Jumble the letters up and challenge your students to work out what they are. Try RGNAE (anger), OJY ((joy), ARAMRIGE (marriage), OERFEDM(freedom), HLEWAT (wealth), ETIXECEMNT (excitement).

7. Post It Notes

Write abstract nouns on post-it-notes and give them to small groups of students. Challenge each group to stick the notes in an appropriate place in the classroom.

This works well if the children are given time to tell the class why they put the notes where they did. Love may end up on a heater (becausethey are both warm) and loneliness may end up on a table far at the back of the class.

8. Alphabet lists

Write an alphabetical list, one word for each letter of the alphabet.  Words can be sourced from anywhere: memory, discussions, this list or a dictionary.  

For more of a challenge write a backwards alphabetical list.  Start at Z and work your way up to A.  

For something a bit different, find a word for each letter of your first, middle and last name. If you have limited time find a word for each letter of your first name.

9. Talk to a friend

Talk to a friend and use one or two abstract nouns in your conversation. 

For more of a challenge ask two people to talk and let the class or a small group listen and then write down any abstract nouns they use.  These can then be used to create sentences. 

Another version of this is to read a page from a book and ask your students to write down any abstract nouns that they hear. 

To extend this further ask your students to write an abstract noun they heard in a sentence at the bottom of a page and then draw an illustration to go with it. 

This activity will naturally lead to a discussion about how you draw something that can't be perceived by our senses.  Students may need to rely on facial expressions that show emotion like anger or use symbols to convey ideas like peace or justice.

10. Class Collection

Class collections are lots of fun and many students love the challenge of finding as many words as they can.  Make a class collection of abstract nouns.   

Fill up a door, window or notice board with colored rectangles that have abstract nouns written on them.

Draw a giant bag on cardboard and invite students to help fill it up.

Create a brick wall out of coloured paper (red) with a new word on each one.

11. Choose a Subject

Choose any subject and write 3 abstract nouns that relate to it.  For clowns you  could write happiness, jokes and  stunts.  For graveyard you could write death, sadness and grief.  For food you could write hunger and satisfaction.

12. Put it in a Painting                                                           

Paint a picture of something that you have done: playing at the beach, walking through a forest, reading a book, opening presents. 

In black marker, write related  abstract nouns on strips of paper and glue them all around the picture or write a sentence below the picture with the abstract nouns highlighted or written in a different colour.

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Abstract Nouns to Home Page

Below are links to more free teacher worksheets noun resources.

common and proper

compound nouns

concrete and abstract

examples of nouns

list of nouns

noun activities

noun exercises

noun games

noun extension ideas

worksheets & activities

plural possesive

types of nouns

what are nouns

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