Noun Modifiers

As you might guess, noun modifiers can modify nouns. What if there is a noun phrase after noun modifiers? If these questions are stuck in your mind, read more!

intermediate
"Noun Modifiers" in the English Grammar

What Are Noun Modifiers?

Noun modifiers (also called noun adjuncts, attributive nouns, qualifying nouns, or apposite nouns) are optional nouns that are used as modifiers for another noun. Modifiers give specific information about their following noun.

Modifiers: Singular or Plural?

In nearly all cases, the noun that acts as the modifier is in the singular form. Take a look at some examples:

I love mushroom soup, but she's making chicken soup and tomato soup.

I'll meet you outside the railway station.

Why Do We Use a Noun Modifier?

1. Noun modifiers are used attributively; that is, they are placed before the noun they describe in order to add extra meaning. By placing a noun functioning as an adjective before the noun, for example:

an insurance company, a trading company, a record company, a bus company

2. Using noun modifiers makes it easy to make compact phrases. Sometimes to make a short and more concise description for a noun, we can use noun modifiers. Check out some examples:

I want a kind of soup that has chicken in it. → I want chicken soup.

I'm looking for a piece of ground to park the cars. → I'm looking for a car park.

Plural-Only Nouns as Modifiers

Some words are used in plural forms, such as pants, sleeves, glasses, trousers, etc. If these nouns are used as a modifier for another noun, they have to be used in the singular form. check out the examples:

I use trouser press instead of iron.

Her shoe size is 36.

Using the Noun 'Face' as a Noun Modifier

Tip!

When a noun modifier is combined with a number or number-related expression, the noun is singular and a hyphen should be used. We use measurements, age, or value as noun modifiers.

I sat down on the two-seater sofa next to Barbara.

Let's take a five-minute rest, guys!

At first it was a one-man band, now it has 12 band members.

What Are Noun Modifies Used for?

1. Indicating Parts of a Particular Noun

We often use noun modifiers to show that one thing is a part of something else or belongs to something else. Do not use possessive nouns in these cases.

the coat pocket → (Not 'the coat's pocket)

the chair leg → (Not 'the chair's leg)

the bedroom floor → (Not 'the bedroom's floor')

the car door→ (Not 'the car's door')

Tip

Another way to show something is a part of a whole is to use the preposition of to make a noun phrase. However, this is not as frequent as noun modifiers. For example:

the car door = the door of the car

2. Indicating What Things Are Made of

We can use noun modifiers to show what something is made of, or the origin or source of the following noun. Like:

a silver necklace

a cotton shirt

a wool skirt

a gold tooth

an iron mask

Tip

Another way to show the material of something is using the preposition 'of.' For example:

paper table = table of paper

3. Indicating What Things Are Used for

To indicate the function of a noun, you can use noun modifiers. In this case, the dependent shows the function, and the head is the noun that is being described. Check out the examples:

I'll buy new tennis shoes this month.

Here, these 'shoes' are used to play 'tennis.'

I like to work in a book store.

In this example, the 'store' is used to sell the 'books.'

Tip

Another way to show the function of something is using the preposition for. Take a look:

tennis shoes = shoes for tennis

Compound Noun Modifiers

Sometimes a compound noun modifies another noun and is used as the noun modifier for another noun.

Robert is a shoe factory worker.

What Is the Difference between Noun Adjuncts and Noun Modifiers?

Actually, noun adjuncts and noun modifiers, or even noun pre-modifiers all imply the same concept. All of them are nouns that are used before other nouns to qualify or describe them. Check out the examples:

Wear a face mask for Halloween!

I have to fix the guitar strings today.

Review

'Noun modifiers' are nouns that are used to qualify another noun, describe it, and make a shorter phrase. They are mostly used to describe:

  • part of something
  • material
  • function

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