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Abstract Nouns. Nouns in Academic Writing.

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abstract nouns

Abstract Nouns

Nouns in Academic Writing

slide2

Attribution theory states that learning can be affected by attributing it to lack of ability or lack of effort. When people believe that they did badly at some task because they were not born with the ability, they tend to become discouraged and give up. In other words, if a person thinks ability is something you are born with, trying harder and making mistakes seems like a waste of time. This belief is characterized by statements such as “I’m no good at that” or “I’m bad at that.” They see their mistakes as more proof that they are not good at something and will never be good at something. On the other hand, people who do not attribute their mistakes to lack of ability usually welcome mistakes because they see them as information to help them figure out what they did wrong and how to correct them. This sort of attitude is defined by wanting to try new things and having learning goals. The goal for this kind of student is to learn, not to look smart. The good news is that people’s negative beliefs about learning can be changed by training them to see intelligence as a muscle that can grow with exercise.

slide3

Attribution theory states that learning can be affected by attributing it to lack of ability or lack of effort. When people believe that they did badly at some task because they were not born with the ability, they tend to become discouraged and give up. In other words, if a person thinks ability is something you are born with, trying harder and making mistakes seems like a waste of time. This belief is characterized by statements such as “I’m no good at that” or “I’m bad at that.” They see their mistakes as more proof that they are not good at something and will never be good at something. On the other hand, people who do not attribute their mistakes to lack of ability usually welcome mistakes because they see them as information to help them figure out what they did wrong and how to correct them. This attitude is defined by wanting to try new things and having learning goals. The goal for this kind of student is to learn, not to look smart. The good news is that people’s negative beliefs aboutlearningcan be changed by training them to see intelligence as a muscle that can grow with exercise.

research has shown
Research has shown…
  • Abstract nouns are very common in academic writing.
  • Many non-native speakers of English use a lot fewer abstract nouns than native speakers.
  • Their writing appears to be far less academic than is expected in college and university settings.
  • Their writing appears to be childish and simple.
abstract nouns1
Abstract Nouns
  • One way to discuss complex relationships between ideas is to take verbs or adjectives and turn them into nouns. By doing so, you increase the number of ideas you can include in one clause or sentence.

Ex. She reflected on her beliefs about learning. This caused her to recognize that she needed to change them.

Her reflection on her beliefs about learning caused her to recognize that she needed to change them.

NOTShe reflected on her beliefs about learning caused her to recognize that she needed to change them.

grammar issues with abstract nouns
Grammar issues with abstract nouns
  • The subject of the sentence with the adjective or verb can become a possessive adjective (e.g., my, her, his, their)

Ex. He depended on Google Translator. It stopped him from learning.

His dependence on Google Translator stopped him from learning.

slide7

Abstract nouns also usually keep the partners of the verbs and adjectives they are derived from.

EX. He was familiar with the topic. That contributed to our discussion.

His familiarity with the topic contributed to our discussion.

slide8

When you change a transitive verb with a direct object into an abstract noun, you must use of with the abstract noun.

EX. They discussed the problem. It lasted for 3 hours.

Their discussion of the problem lasted for 3 hours.

slide9

When you change an adjective to an abstract noun, human subjects become possessive and non-human subjects become part of of-phrases.*

Ex. We liked it. The doctor was reliable.

We liked the doctor’s reliability.

Ex. An earthquake is possible. It made us worry.

The possibility of an earthquake made us worry.

*If the human subject is 3 words or longer, we usually use the of-phrase.

Ex. We liked the reliability of our friend’s doctor.