An abstract thing is something that you can’t perceive directly using any of your senses. An abstract thing is an idea or a concept in your mind. It’s not something that you can physically reach out and touch, or smell, or hear, or taste, or see. The meaning of an abstract thing will change depending on who is thinking about it. For example, the abstract concept ‘success’ means totally different things to different people. Everyone has their own idea of what ‘success’ is. Success to a five-year-old boy might be managing to escape the watchful eye of his mother or father. Success for a 45-year-old businessperson might be becoming the head of a company.
Being able to recognise the difference between abstract and concrete things will improve your ability to analyse what other people write or say, and also improve your control over your own writing.
Take, for instance, advertising. Say you saw the following advertisement for a cosmetics product:
It’s obviously an advertisement trying to sell some sort of product that makes your lips appear bigger and fuller (presumably to make them look better). Its main claim is that it increases your ‘lip fullness’ by 212%. So what exactly is ‘lip fullness’?
Well, I guess it means how ‘full’ your lips are - it’s not exactly a precise definition. In fact, this is an example of an abstract thing - lip fullness is not something you can directly perceive using any your five senses. It’s also probably an abstract thing because different people will have different interpretations of what lip fullness is. One person might think that it is how thick the lips are. Another might think that lip fullness describes how luscious the lips are or a certain way the lips are shaped.