[Grammar] the traditional, the natural and the cosmoplitian

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lightcleo

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Hi, everyone. I'm a new guy so I probably don't really know about the rules here. Hope you wont mind. :)

I saw a sentence in 'The curious incident of the dog in the night-time' which says,

"You seek out the traditional, the natural and the cosmopolitan."

And I'm wondering if an adjective can be followed by the word "the" and then they group as a noun. Like 'the poor' or 'the rich'.

If there is any grammatical problems throughout my words, please point out. I'm always willing to learn. Thank you. ;)
 

Heterological

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Yes, we often precede adjectives with "the" to mean "those things/people that are (adj.)" So "the rich" and "the poor" refer to rich and poor people respectively; "the traditional, the natural and the cosmopolitan" refers to those things that are traditional, natural, and cosmopolitan. Unlike some other languages, though, we typically do not make singular nouns out of adjectives that way. There's a sign in the window of a beauty parlor I pass on my way to work with a mirror and the words, "look at the beautiful." I take it to mean, "look at yourself; you are a beautiful person," but the grammar is wrong. I'm pretty sure the owner is Brazilian, and translated directly from Portuguese, but it just doesn't work that way in English.
 

~Mav~

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Unlike some other languages, though, we typically do not make singular nouns out of adjectives that way. There's a sign in the window of a beauty parlor I pass on my way to work with a mirror and the words, "look at the beautiful." I take it to mean, "look at yourself; you are a beautiful person," but the grammar is wrong. I'm pretty sure the owner is Brazilian, and translated directly from Portuguese, but it just doesn't work that way in English.
What about "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"? In this case they are singular nouns made out of adjectives, aren't they? (Though I noticed the word "typically" in your post. ;-) )
 

Heterological

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That's what I'd call the exception that proves the rule.;-) It was translated directly from Italian, and the phrase has since become a pervasive meme in our culture. However, when the phrase is applied to other things, they are almost never singular! Case in point: I once saw a women's magazine article titled, "Summer: the good, the bad, and the ugly" with respective lists of things that were good about summer, things that were bad about summer, and aspects of summer that tended to make you ugly (with tips on how to fight them, naturally.)
 
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