We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is an Adjectival Noun?

M. McGee
By
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

An adjectival noun is a grammar term that describes when an adjective occupies a noun’s position in a sentence or when a noun occupies the adjective’s spot. In either case, the use of an adjectival noun is designed to make the statement more descriptive, often by adding a light metaphorical context. For instance, calling a person ‘Clumsy’ as though it were his or her name makes the adjective ‘clumsy’ a proper noun and creates a metaphorical description of the named person. These modified words are common in most complex languages, but are particularly common in English, Arabic, Japanese and German.

In order to understand exactly what an adjectival noun is, it is important to know what nouns and adjectives are. In general, a noun is any person, place, thing or idea. This basically means that a noun is anything that is actually ‘something.’ If a person can conceive of a physical or mental existence for the ‘something,’ it is almost certainly a noun. For instance, ‘book’ is a noun because we can all envision a book sitting on a table, but ‘nice’ is not. While a person may be nice or act nice, that is only a description of the person and not the person himself.

An adjective describes a noun to create clarity in its existence. In the above example, a book sitting on a table may be imagined a thousand different ways by a thousand different people. Adjectives allow words to make the noun’s existence clearer, which allows descriptions of it to have more meaning. For example, the book might be a ‘red book’ and the table may be a ‘metal table.’ These two descriptive words have brought the book and its table from a nearly infinite number of variations down to a relatively small number.

When using an adjectival noun, a person uses a word that is usually a noun as an adjective or a word that is often an adjective as a noun. Two common nouns are ‘race’ and ‘horse.’ Both of these words are separate nouns that have their own particular meaning. When used together, one becomes the adjective of the other: ‘race horse’ or ‘horse race.’ Both of those phrases have different meanings because the first word is always seen as the adjective of the second word; either a horse that races or a race featuring horses.

The second use of an adjectival noun, when an adjective is used as a noun, is often part of a partly metaphorical description or overt classification. For instance, ‘French’ is a descriptive word placed on an object: ‘a French person’ or ‘French dressing.’ When used in that way, it is an adjective, but in the phrase ‘the French,’ the word ‘French’ is used as noun to categorize the French people.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
M. McGee
By M. McGee
Mark McGee is a skilled writer and communicator who excels in crafting content that resonates with diverse audiences. With a background in communication-related fields, he brings strong organizational and interpersonal skills to his writing, ensuring that his work is both informative and engaging.
Discussion Comments
M. McGee
M. McGee
Mark McGee is a skilled writer and communicator who excels in crafting content that resonates with diverse audiences....
Learn more
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.