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  1. #1
    PatrU is offline Newbie
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    Using nouns as adjectives

    Hi,

    How possible is it to use nouns as adjectives in English?

    For example, in the movie "Starship Troopers", there is this phrase: "it's an ugly planet, a bug planet".

    If you can say "a bug planet", which means a planet full of bugs (right?), can you for example say something like "a storm future", that would mean "a future full of storms"?

    Or, for someone pessimistic about the current pandemic for instance, would it be possible to say something like "a virus future is awaiting us", that would mean "a future with a lot of viruses"?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    Charlie Bernstein is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Using nouns as adjectives

    Linguists probably have guidelines for when a noun can be an adjective. All I can say is that sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't.

    Personally, I like "virus future," but I don't like "storm future." Maybe it's because we have the adjective stormy but don't have the adjective virusy.

    Let's see what others say.
    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.

  3. #3
    PatrU is offline Newbie
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    Re: Using nouns as adjectives

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    Personally, I like "virus future," but I don't like "storm future." Maybe it's because we have the adjective stormy but don't have the adjective virusy.
    Ah, you have "stormy" so you don't need to use "storm" as an adjective. That makes perfect sense to me indeed. Thank you.
    Last edited by PatrU; 23-Jul-2020 at 13:16.

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    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Using nouns as adjectives

    I was going to say that exact thing, Charlie. We have "stormy." We don't have "virusy."

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    PatrU is offline Newbie
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    Re: Using nouns as adjectives

    And so, if you can say "a bug planet" (not in real life, ok, but) even though you have "buggy", is it because "buggy" also has other meanings than "full of bugs", like in "a buggy software" of for a stroller, and so this would be ambiguous?
    Last edited by PatrU; 23-Jul-2020 at 13:44.

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    Re: Using nouns as adjectives

    Quote Originally Posted by PatrU View Post
    And so, if you can say "a bug planet" (not in real life, OK, but) even though you have "buggy", is it because "buggy" also has other meanings than "full of bugs", like in "a buggy software" of for a stroller so this would be ambiguous?
    I think it depends on how useful it is.

    Thank you for not putting "Thank you" in that post. I hope that becomes your habit.
    Not a professional teacher

  7. #7
    Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    Charlie Bernstein is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Using nouns as adjectives

    Quote Originally Posted by PatrU View Post
    And so, if you can say "a bug planet" (not in real life, ok, but) even though you have "buggy", is it because "buggy" also has other meanings than "full of bugs", like in "a buggy software" of for a stroller, and so this would be ambiguous?
    That's why I didn't try to offer a general rule. I don't know that there is one. And if there is, it's too complicated for me to sort out.

    We native English speakers learned the language one word at a time.
    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.

  8. #8
    raymondaliasapollyon is offline Member
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    Re: Using nouns as adjectives

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post

    Personally, I like "virus future," but I don't like "storm future." Maybe it's because we have the adjective stormy but don't have the adjective virusy.

    Let's see what others say.
    English has the adjective "viral."

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Using nouns as adjectives

    Quote Originally Posted by PatrU View Post
    For example, in the movie "Starship Troopers", there is this phrase: "it's an ugly planet, a bug planet".

    If you can say "a bug planet", which means a planet full of bugs (right?)
    I think it's OK as long as they dominate the planet.

  10. #10
    GoesStation is offline Moderator
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    Re: Using nouns as adjectives

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    I think it's OK as long as they dominate the planet.
    ​The phrase The ice planet of Hoth worked well in Star Wars.
    I am not a teacher.

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