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  1. Junior Member
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    #1

    test positive for...

    Consider this sentence, please:

    a) He tested positive for covid-19.

    Can we say the following sentence:

    b) He tested covid-19 positive. ( I've seen this used in many (Indian) newspapers)

    To me, b) sounds awkward and seems grammatically incorrect, because it looks like "covid-19" is modifying the noun "positive", adjectivally, whereas in a), this is not the case.

  2. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: test positive for...

    I don't know whether (b) is grammatical, but yes, it's awkward, and (a) is more natural.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #3

    Re: test positive for...

    Quote Originally Posted by NAL123 View Post
    Consider this sentence, please:

    a) He tested positive for covid-19.

    Can we say the following sentence:

    b) He tested covid-19 positive. ( I've seen this used in many (Indian) newspapers)

    To me, b) sounds awkward and seems grammatically incorrect, because it looks like "covid-19" is modifying the noun "positive", adjectivally, whereas in a), this is not the case.
    I haven't seen it in any Western media, but it's a perfectly valid construction. In sentence B, "covid-19" is an attributive noun, a noun acting as an adjective. We've used the same construction in HIV-positive for decades now.

    I'd say it only looks awkward because we're not used to seeing it.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #4

    Re: test positive for...

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    We've used the same construction in HIV-positive for decades now.
    Do we say "he tested HIV positive"?

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    #5

    Re: test positive for...

    Quote Originally Posted by NAL123 View Post
    Do we say "he tested HIV positive"?
    Now that you mention it, no. We'd say He tested positive for HIV. But you could say He's been HIV-positive for three years. So a more natural way to use this construction with COVID-19 is something like He was COVID-19-positive when he got back from New York.
    I am not a teacher.

  6. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: test positive for...

    Quote Originally Posted by GoesStation View Post
    I haven't seen it in any Western media, but it's a perfectly valid construction. In sentence B, "covid-19" is an attributive noun, a noun acting as an adjective. We've used the same construction in HIV-positive for decades now. . . .
    Yup, I've always thought that sounded awkward, too. Good to know that at least it's grammatical.
    I'm not a teacher. I speak American English. I've tutored writing at the University of Southern Maine and have done a good deal of copy editing and writing, occasionally for publication.

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    #7

    Re: test positive for...

    Since it is a compound adjective, shouldn't it be hyphenated as one word viz. "covid-19-positive" as G S has hyphenated "HIV-positive"?
    I am not a teacher or a native speaker.

  8. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #8

    Re: test positive for...

    I think it's a case of not using it with the verb test. His is/has been/was found to be HIV-positive sound fine to me. Testing for some reason doesn't fit this pattern to me.

  9. Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    #9

    Re: test positive for...

    Quote Originally Posted by tedmc View Post
    Since it is a compound adjective, shouldn't it be hyphenated as one word viz. "covid-19-positive" as G S has hyphenated "HIV-positive"?
    It's definitely not something I would lose sleep about. And I think you could argue for covid-19 positive.

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    #10

    Re: test positive for...

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I think it's a case of not using it with the verb test. His is/has been/was found to be HIV-positive sound fine to me. Testing for some reason doesn't fit this pattern to me.
    Me neither. I tried, and failed, to think of a way to generalize the problem.
    I am not a teacher.

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