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    #1

    Can Adjective Be Subject?

    Since learning English, I haven't seen any grammar books within reach mentioning adjective can ever work as subject. Recently, I find a few as follows:

    Less obvious was just how much Suu Kyi stood to gain from an alliance. The Burmese Spring, page 56, August 6, 2012, The New Yorker


    When false is taken for true, true becomes false; / If non-being turns into being, being becomes non-being. page 9, Chapter 1, Book 1, A Dream of Red Mansions by Tsao Hsueh-Chin, tr. by Yang Hsien-yi and Gladys Yang, Foreign Language Press, Beijing, China, 1st ed. 1994


    Historically important is the War Remnants Museum, formerly the American War Crimes Museum. Saigon Confidential, page 105, January, Playboy

    Less fickle, less variable is the leap into the future provided by prolonged unconsciousness, as a few rare individuals can attest. How to Build a Time Machine, page 156, December, Playboy


    Small Is Beautiful Title, page 22, June, Playboy

    I know this is a phrase. I may add one more, like:


    Slow and steady wins the race.


    Thanks so much for your time.


    With my best wishes,

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Can Adjective Be Subject?

    Quote Originally Posted by coolfool View Post
    Less obvious was just how much Suu Kyi stood to gain from an alliance.

    Historically important is the War Remnants Museum, formerly the American War Crimes Museum.

    Less fickle, less variable is the leap into the future provided by prolonged unconsciousness, as a few rare individuals can attest.
    I have underlined the grammatical subject in three of your sentences.. I'll return to the others later.

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    #3

    Re: Can Adjective Be Subject?

    May I consider the underlined parts the in fact subjects and the red parts the formal ones?

    Thanks.

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    #4

    Re: Can Adjective Be Subject?

    In the three I dealt with, the red parts are not the subjects in any way at all, any more than 'here' is the subject in "Here comes the bus".

    Now let's look at the other three:

    When false is taken for true, true becomes false;

    Small Is Beautiful
    Slow and steady wins the race.


    In these three, the words in red, adjectives, are the subjects of the verbs. However, we understand that the adjectives are used to bring to mind to something more substantial:

    When what is false is taken for true, what is true becomes false;
    Something that is small is something that is beautiful; or: Smallness = beauty.
    A person who is slow and steady wins the race; or: The characteristics of being slow and steady are what enables a race to be won.

    I do not recommend that you try to copy this rather stylised usage, though it's not uncommon among young people, as in this example:

    A: Do you want to go to the cinema tonight? Jim said that 'Bloodsuckers' is worth seeing. It's a bit scary, though.
    B: Scary is cool. We'll go.

    This is completely acceptable and natural for the speakers concerned. However, in all but informal writing, B's idea would be better expressed as something like 'I like scary things/fims'
    or 'Scariness is a positive quality'. Note that the first of these re-writes is not particular close in meaning to the original words, and the second is not very natural. It's not always easy to translate such ideas exactly into 'acceptable' (semi-) formal language.

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