*The Poor, the Meek, the Red: Nominal Adjectives

Think for a moment about the following adjectives: poor, downtrodden, wealthy, well-to-do, meek.

They’re definitely adjectives, right?

Well, here’s a cool thing about English: Sometimes you can use adjectives as nouns (and, I should add, vice-versa). And when you do, there’s even a name for them. They’re called nominal adjectives.

That is, poor people can be referred to as the poor. And that can work as a noun in a sentence: The poor often live in bad school districts.

Ditto that for wealthy. The wealthy often live in good school districts.

And everyone knows who shall inherit the earth: the meek.

Even the following use can be considered an example of a nominal adjective in use:

I tried on the blue shirt but bought the red. Here, the red is functioning as a noun -- the object of the verb bought -- even though it’s just shorthand for the red shirt.

That’s a little different because the red isn’t as substantive a noun as the poor, which is well-known to be a thing (“things” being members in good standing of the group known as nouns.)

And there you have yet another interesting (to some people) trait about the English language …

Tags: ,

One Response to “*The Poor, the Meek, the Red: Nominal Adjectives”

  1. Though I fully accept your example (the red), 'one' just forces itself onto my tongue at the end there. I cannot shake the feeling that it would be safer, if not better, to use it. But I'm not sure...