- Modifiers: Singular or Plural?
- Plural-Only Nouns as Modifiers
A noun modifier, also known as an attributive noun or noun adjunct, is a noun used attributively to modify or qualify another noun, but in a different way than an adjective.
Meet me at the railway station.
Railway is a noun used as a modifier to describe what kind of station it is.
Rule 1: We can use two nouns together to show that one thing is a part of something else, whereas the first noun is called a noun modifier.
She found the keys in her coat pocket.
Coat pocket are two nouns together, where coat is a noun modifier used to show that a pocket is a part of a coat.
Note: We don't use the possessive case to show that one thing is a part of something else.
Incorrect: coat's pocket
Correct: coat pocket
Coat's pocket is the possessive case which is incorrect form in this case.
Rule 2: We can use noun modifiers to describe the material something is made of.
He brought all the groceries in a paper bag.
Paper is a noun modifier that show that the bag with the groceries is made of it.
Rule 3: We often use noun modifiers with nouns ending with -er.
Can you pass me that potato peeler, please?
Potato is a noun modifier used to modify the noun peeler ending with -er.
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Rule 4: We often use nouns ending with -ing as noun modifiers.
It's my first driving lesson.
Driving is a noun ending with -ing used as a noun modifier to describe the type of lesson.
Rule 5: We can use measurements, age, or value as noun modifiers.
He is a 15-year-old boy.
15-year-old shows the age and is used as a noun modifier to describe the boy.
Rule 6: We place noun modifiers after adjectives but before the nouns they modify in a sentence.
We have many productive team members working on this project.
Team is used as a noun modifier to modify the noun members and comes after the adjective productive.
Modifiers: Singular or Plural?
Rule 7: Almost always, the noun that acts as the modifier is in the singular form.
I'll meet you outside the railway station.
The noun railway is singular and acts as a modifier for the noun station.
Plural-Only Nouns as Modifiers
Rule 8: If we use nouns that are always used in plural forms (such as shoes, glasses, gloves, etc.) as a modifier for another noun, we have to use them in the singular form.
His shoe size is 44.
Shoe is a singular form of the normally plural word shoes used to modify the noun size.
Find a noun modifier in a sentence. My grandfather was a newspaper seller.