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noun as adjective

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New member
Apr 4, 2008
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I am looking for a rule as to how to use a noun as an adjective. I found this on internet: We can use a noun as an adjective when it precedes a noun that it modifies; a mountain bike is a bike designed for riding up mountains. 'Mountain' functions as an adjective modifying the noun 'bike'. The second noun takes the plural form, while the first behaves like an adjective and consequently does not, unless the word is normally used in the plural (sports hall) or refers to people (women footballers).

Then Why do I say women teachers and then say girl students
or men teachers and boy teachers.

If women and men are plural why are boy and girl singular.
The rule says : or refers to people. As far as I know girls and boys are people.

David L.

VIP Member
Nov 7, 2007
Member Type
Strictly, it should be female teachers, female students, male teachers, male students

but that can sound a bit too formal for colloquial speech.
I think you will find it is common to mix them :
women teachers
but male teachers ( more so than 'men teachers')

Again, 'boy' and 'girl' are substituted for 'male' and 'female'
The plural is made my adding an' s' (and so is the possessive case.)
So - it would become 'boys students' which is a mouthful, and sounds as if we are talking about the possessive case to boot: the students of the boys = the boys' students.
So it is simplified colloquially to 'boy students'. Easy to say and gets the meaning across - 'students who are boys.'
I don't think that 'boy students' has much parlance in high schools today though. I would imagine that students would be designated and referred to as male students/female students.

(I think too there are social and cultural factors from the past determining some of this. British education at least has a tradition of keeping sex out of the classroom. We do not want to emphasize (or even mention!) maleness and femaleness, particularly when it is bad enough their hormones are raging. So well into high school, they are referred to in less 'sexual' terms as still innocent boys and girls, as if puberty hasn't really happened for them yet !)
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