Attributive Nouns

What are attributive nouns?

Attributive nouns - also called noun adjuncts, attributive nouns, or qualifying nouns - are nouns that function as adjectives as in 'chicken soup, field player, ladies room'

Before we give more examples of attributive nouns, let's look at the difference between nouns and adjectives.

Nouns vs Adjectives

A noun is a part of speech that is used to name a person, place, thing, quality, or action.

An adjective is another part of speech which gives us more information about nouns. Adjectives modify nouns.


Adjectives Nouns
  • Great
  • high
  • beautiful
  • Happy
  • job
  • mountain
  • lady
  • Story

Nouns as Adjectives

Sometimes a noun can modify another noun attributively. When it is the case, these nouns are referred to as attributive nouns. These nouns are optional because they can be removed without affecting the grammar of the sentence.

Consider the following examples:

  • Chicken soup.
  • Field player.
  • Race car.
  • Ladies room.

The nouns ' chicken, field, race, ladies' in the above examples function as attributive nouns.

Attributive nouns vs nominalized adjectives

A distinction between attributive nouns and nominalized adjectives should be made:

  • Attributive nouns are nouns that function as adjectives as in 'chicken soup'
  • Nominalized adjectives are adjectives that function as nouns as in 'the French.

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