Recalling abstract concepts can feel hopelessly challenging unless you have a framework to turn the abstract into something tangible. I overcome this challenge by using intellectual construct to identify situations that are familiar to me. You cannot learn these concepts in a vacuum; you must associate them with tangible situations or objects you can recall.

In the example of when you should use unowned vs. weak, you have to frame it as such: in what situation is it unequivocally better to establish a dependent relationship vs an independent relationship? By categorizing it into situational understanding, we are all familiar with dependent vs dependent. I can now ask myself: is a credit card dependent on a customer, yes or no? Obviously, yes, so a credit card must depend on a customer; therefore, the relationship is unowned.

Now, let’s exchange the credit card object for an apartment object. I ask myself again: is an apartment dependent on a customer/resident, yes or no? The answer is no, an apartment is an independent or standalone entity; it can exist without a customer.

Now, let’s exchange the credit card for an iPhone. This one is a bit trickier. The phone can have two different states: on sale or owned. As I finished writing the last word of the previous sentence, I realized that the word choice made it self-explanatory.


In this article, I just wanted to introduce something that has helped me better understand the nuances of abstract concepts. But understanding is not enough; you need to be able to recall and apply this knowledge in situations you’ll inevitably encounter. Don’t fall prey to the ‘law of the instrument,’ which means if the only tool you know is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. Expand your knowledge of tools, so instead of always relying on a hammer, you seek out the best tool for the job.

That’s all, my friends. I hope this post unblocks you from any ongoing challenge you may be facing. If you have any questions or edge cases you’d like to discuss, just leave a comment below. If you want to support this blog you can Buy Me a Coffee. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn and Twitter, where I share all my new posts.