Abstract Verbs

Here are the 4 most common abstract verbs for ESL students. Other irregular verbs here.

To know

to have information in your mind: to be certain: be aware of through observation, inquiry, or information. “most people know that CFCs can damage the ozone layer”

Known: recognized, familiar, or within the scope of knowledge. “the known world” . Unknown: not known or familiar. “exploration into unknown territory”

Cambridge Dictionary
PRESENT1st person2nd person3rd person
PositiveI know youhe/she/it knowsyou/we/they know
NegativeI don’t know youhe/she/it doesn’t knowyou/we/they don’t know
QuestionDo I know you?Does he/she/it know?Do you/we/they know?
it – is an object and cannot ‘know’ technically


  • I knew it
  • I didn’t know
  • Did you know?


  • I will know tomorrow
  • I won’t know until tomorrow
  • Will I ever know?

Definition of knowledge

noun 1a(1): the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association. (2): acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique

adjective: intelligent and well informed.”she is very knowledgeable about livestock and pedigrees”

Group of professionals sitting together and having a meeting in the office.
Know and Meet
  • I met Michael about 3 years ago -­ for the first time
  • I have known Michael for about 3 years ­- you know someone after you meet them
  • I met my cousin in the supermarket ­- by chance
  • Martha and I met in a Café for some tea and cake ­- arrange to see someone
  • Martha knows a lot about computers -­ she has knowledge about computers

To think

to believe something or have an opinion or idea: to consider a person’s needs or wishes: to use the brain to decide to do something: “I thought I would never see you again.” -past

thought1 /THôt/ noun

  1. 1.an idea or opinion produced by thinking, or occurring suddenly in the mind.”Maggie had a sudden thought”
  • I think I’d better go.
  • I was thinking of starting a business. What do you think?
  • I thought I knew you.

To get

to obtain, buy, or earn something: to reach, receive or be given something: to go somewhere and bring back someone or something: to take someone or something into your possession by force: to become sick with a disease, virus, etc.:

Cambridge Dictionary

I got you. – past

To get: (got) – (gotten)

When you acclimate yourself to a situation, you become familiar, get used to or accustomed to something, someone or somewhere.
Definition of getting to know: becoming acquainted with We just bought a house here last month, and we’re still getting to know our neighbors.

to be

to exist or live – used to say something about a person, thing, or state, to show a permanent or temporary quality, state, job, etc.: used to show the position of a person or thing in space or time: used in conditional sentences to say what might happen: used to show what something is made of:

Definition of being: noun. the fact of existing; existence (as opposed to nonexistence). conscious, mortal existence; life: Our being is as an instantaneous flash of light in the midst of eternal night. substance or nature: of such a being as to arouse fear. something that exists: inanimate beings.

Cambridge Dictionary

To be: (am, is, are) – (was, were) – (been) – (being)

noun: the state of being comfortable, healthy, or happy.
“an improvement in the patient’s well-being”
Past Participles and Auxiliary Verbs

Just as in Portuguese, you typically can’t use a past participle without a verbo auxiliar auxiliary verb in English. Abstract verbs are often used as auxiliary verbs and are sometimes called “helping verbs” because they help express the tense, mood, or voice of the sentence’s main verb.
You’ll probably recognize these:

  • ter to have 
  • ficar to become, to stay 
  • haver to have, to exist
  • ser to be (permanent) estar to be (temporary) 
    • She is nice. (Ela é legal.)
    • She is being nice. (Ela está sendo legal)

Abstract and Concrete

The distinction between “abstract” and “concrete” concepts and words is all but uncontroversial. People disagree when trying to categorize a specific noun as “abstract,” and even more when classifying as such a specific verb. Evidence suggests that the “abstract–concrete dimension” reflects a continuum rather than a dichotomy. Indeed, Nelson and Schreiber (1992) and Wiemer-Hastings et al. (2001) asked people to judge the concreteness of large sets of words; they found a bimodal distribution (according to features, such as tangibility or visibility), not a dichotomy. Things are even more complicated when words are embedded within contexts. Most of us would agree that the noun “apple” and the verb “to grasp” are concrete, but judging verb–noun pairs such as “to grasp the meaning,” or “to think about an apple” (e.g., Aziz-Zadeh et al., 2006) is all but simple. In addition, the meaning of a sentence is often influenced by a specific language and culture; furthermore, it has been shown that this linguistic and cultural influence is particularly strong for abstract compared to concrete words (Boroditsky, 2003).

Varies Types of Verbs
  1. Abstract Verbs
    • to be, to want, to seem, to need, to care, to contain, to owe, to exist…
  2. Possession Verbs
    • to possess, to own, to belong…
  3. Emotion Verbs
    • to like, to love, to hate, to dislike, to fear, to envy, to mind…

Abstract Nouns from Common Nouns

Common NounAbstract Noun

Abstract Nouns from Verbs

VerbAbstract Noun
grow upgrowth

Abstract Nouns from Adjectives

AdjectiveAbstract Noun