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  1. Newbie
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    #1

    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. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #2

    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.

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    #3

    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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    #4

    Re: Using nouns as adjectives

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

  5. Newbie
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    #5

    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.

  6. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #6

    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. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
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    #7

    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. Newbie
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    #8

    Re: Using nouns as adjectives

    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel View Post
    Thank you for not putting "Thank you" in that post. I hope that becomes your habit.
    I have noticed the "Thank" button now, so I will ensure that your hope is fulfilled indeed.

  9. Newbie
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    #9

    Re: Using nouns as adjectives

    Quote Originally Posted by Charlie Bernstein View Post
    We native English speakers learned the language one word at a time.
    I think that whatever the language, a child's brain does much better than that, but yes, a native speaker had, by definition, more time and abilities to connect the dots than any adult trying to catch up...
    Last edited by PatrU; 24-Jul-2020 at 01:17.

  10. Moderator
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    #10

    Re: Using nouns as adjectives

    When a noun modifies another noun, as in 'bus stop', 'gas bill', 'telephone company', etc, the first noun is being used attributively.

    'Storm future' is not a good example to use for 'stormy future', as the adjective is needed there – like in 'stormy weather' – but you can't use 'stormy' in 'storm warning' and 'storm drains'.
    Last edited by GoesStation; 24-Jul-2020 at 11:35. Reason: Fix a typo.

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