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  1. #1
    dihen is offline Member
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    Default " 'of' phrase", "noun as adjective"; prenominal modifers?

    Why is it often prefered to use an " 'of' phrase" instead of using a noun as an adjective?
    `
    examples:
    `
    (There are endless examples of these; I can find them anywhere.)
    `
    "adverbs of time/manner" instead of "time/manner adverbs"
    "gestures of the head" instead of "head gestures"
    "slips of the tongue" instead of "tongue slips"
    "native speakers of English" instead of "native English speakers"
    "the valley of the shadow of death" instead of "the death shadow valley"
    `
    And other than that, using a plural is often ungrammatical or unacceptable.
    `
    "??* the books review" for "the review of (the) books"
    "??* words order" for "order of words"
    "??* the prepositions objects" for "the objects of (the) prepositions"
    `
    And that applies to plural adjectives too.
    `
    "??* a three-years-old child" for "a child who is three years old"
    "??* the four-years-long development of the..." for "the development of the... that is four years long"
    Last edited by dihen; 22-Sep-2006 at 12:41.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: " 'of' phrase", "noun as adjective"; prenominal modifers?

    Hello, dihen.

    About 'of phrases', there is a pattern. Here's something worth considering.

    It is important to remember that possessive constructions are often used with inanimate nouns (a stone’s throw, the water’s edge). And although we call them possessives, they often do not indicate simple possession but a number of other relations.

    These include

    i. source or origin (the ambassador’s letter, Hardy’s novels),
    ii. description or classification (the car’s speed, the stadium’s design, a month’s salary), and even
    iii. purpose (a women’s college, boys’ clothing)

    Source


    See also here.
    origin ("men of Rome")
    relationship ("Janet's husband")
    subjectivity ("my leaving")
    objectivity ("the archduke's murder")
    description ("man of honor", "day of reckoning")
    composition ("wheel of cheese") — partitive
    number of distinct items (Old English "féower manna"; literally, "four of men") — partitive
    part of a mass ("a pound of beef") — partitive
    inalienable possession ("my height", "his existence", "her long fingers")
    alienable possession ("his jacket", "my drink")

  3. #3
    dihen is offline Member
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    Default Re: " 'of' phrase", "noun as adjective"; prenominal modifers?

    The " 's " construction is not equal to using a noun as an adjective. And the most important question is that why is it often ungrammatical or simply unacceptable to use a plural noun as a adjective?.
    Last edited by dihen; 09-Sep-2006 at 07:54.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: " 'of' phrase", "noun as adjective"; prenominal modifers?

    Because adjectives don't ake plutrals, though we use the plural for people and when the noun is normally used in the plural.

  5. #5
    dihen is offline Member
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    Default Re: " 'of' phrase", "noun as adjective"; prenominal modifers?

    Why is it that books often write the "of phrase" form instead of the "noun as adjective, even when the noun used as an adjective is singular or uncountable?
    `
    repeated from above:
    "adverbs of time" instead of "time adverbs"
    "adverbs of manner" instead of "manner adverbs"
    "gestures of the head" instead of "head gestures"
    "slips of the tongue" instead of "tongue slips"
    "native speakers of English" instead of "native English speakers"
    "the valley of the shadow of death" instead of "the death shadow valley"
    `
    Also, are these possible/acceptable?
    `
    "Rome men"
    "honor man"
    "reckoning day"
    "cheese wheel"
    "a stone throw"
    "the water edge"
    Last edited by dihen; 22-Sep-2006 at 16:57.

  6. #6
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: " 'of' phrase", "noun as adjective"; prenominal modifers?

    You actually have 3 issues in your post.

    1. Saxon genitive - usually shows possesion and is formed by adding 's to a noun. For inanimate objects, we usually use #3 for "possession" unless we are talking about a specific inanimate object (car door vs. my car's door)

    2. of + noun, which can show possession as well as many other associations

    3. attributive nouns - nouns used as adjectives

    In many cases, 1 and 2 are interchangeable and 2 and 3 can be interchangeable, but 1, 2, and 3 rarely mix.

    1 & 2: My girlfreind's friend or friend of my girlfriend. Both OK
    2 & 3: Cheese wheel or wheel of cheese. Both OK

    In some cases, you are dealing with fixed expressions.

    "Slip(s) of the tongue" is idiomatic, "tongue slips" is not.

    Adverbs of time and time adverbs are OK, but the first is more common.
    Adverbs of manner and manner adverbs are OK, but the first is more common.
    "Gestures of the head" and "head gestures" are both OK and common.

    "Native speakers of English" and "native English speakers" are both OK and common.

    You can't change "the valley of death". It is a name.

    We don't usually use an attributive noun as an adjective when there is already an adjective.

    So "men of Rome" becomes "Roman men".
    "Men of honor" becomes "honorable men".
    Day of reckoning is a fixed expression.
    The stone would be a "stone's throw" -- not really possession here.
    Water's edge -- it is possession here.

  7. #7
    dihen is offline Member
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    Default Re: " 'of' phrase", "noun as adjective"; prenominal modifers?

    some other ones:
    song of hope / hope song
    manual of style / style manual
    point of view / view point (rare?)
    way of life / life way (rare?)
    end of (the) year / year end (rare?)
    days of the week / week days (very unlikely?, because 'weekdays' has a different meaning?)
    court of law/ law court (rare?)
    `
    Are these two hard to understand because they are fixed phrases?
    `
    part of speech - speech part
    figure of speech - speech figure
    Last edited by dihen; 29-Sep-2006 at 10:52.

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