Nominal Adjectives

Nominal adjectives are adjectives that function as a noun in a sentence. They may take different roles which we will uncover in this lesson.

Nominal Adjectives

What Are Nominal Adjectives?

Nominal adjectives (also called adjectival nouns or nominalized adjective) are adjectives that function as a noun in a sentence. They can be the subject or the object of a sentence or clause.

Nominal Adjectives as Subjects

The nominal adjectives do not describe any other noun. They are nouns themselves. In the examples below, they are performing the function of the subject of the sentences:

The British take their tea with milk, sugar, lemon or just plain.

The best is yet to come.

The elderly must decide the fate of the tribe.

Nominal Adjectives as Objects

Nominal adjectives can also be the direct object, indirect object, or the object of the preposition in a sentence. Take a look at some examples:

We all want the best for our children.

He gave money to the poor.

You should help the homeless.

What Kinds of Adjectives Can Be Nominalized?

Basically, nominal adjectives are used to refer to a group of people with similar characteristics. For example, these adjectives can be nominalized:

Collective Adjectives

Collective adjectives refer to groups of people with shared physical or non-physical characteristics.

  • Collective adjectives with shared physical characteristics: the blind, the deaf, the short, the tall
  • Collective adjectives with shared non-physical characteristics: the homeless, the wealthy, the poor, the rich

The rich should help the poor.

We should respect the elderly.

Nationality and Proper Adjectives

nationality as a proper nominal adjective

Most nationality adjectives can be nominal adjectives. Such as:

  • the French
  • the British
  • the Japanese

The French have a love for debate and questioning.

I'm interested in the customs of the Chinese.

Warning

Not all nationality adjectives can be nominalized. Many of the nationalities must be plural, proper nouns, and they cannot be considered nominal adjectives. For example:

  1. the Germans (Not 'the German')
  2. the Russians (Not 'the Russian')
  3. the Americans (Not 'the American')

Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

Comparative adjectives are used to compare two things. Take a look at some examples of nominal adjectives in the comparative form:

My sister is the shorter, but she is the prettier.

Of the two watches, I picked the more expensive.

Superlative adjectives are used to compare three or more things, and they can also function as nominal adjectives. For example:

Fred is the strongest.

When you cut the cake into slices, give me the largest.

Non-Collective Adjectives

Some non-collective adjectives refer to a characteristic of an individual person or thing. Yet, they can be used as nominal adjectives. For example:

  • the contrary
  • the good
  • The opposite
  • The red, green, blue, etc.

The opposite of slow is fast.

The word 'opposite' does not refer to a group of things or people with similarities. Yet, it is used as a nominal adjectives.

I walked home across the green.

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