Posts Tagged ‘adjectives used without nouns’

Adjectives Used Without Nouns

March 18th, 2010 in English Grammar, English Learning

We do not normally use adjectives without nouns.

She is a very beautiful girl. (NOT She is a very beautiful.)

Here the sentence wouldn’t make complete sense, if we leave out the noun after the adjective. However, a noun which has already been mentioned is often left out after an adjective.

‘Have you got any rice?’ ‘Do you want white or brown?’ (= Do you want white rice or brown rice?)

The + adjective

The structure the + adjective (without a following noun) is used to talk about certain groups of people. Examples are: the blind, the dead, the deaf, the disabled, the accused, the injured, the unemployed etc.

The injured were taken to the hospital.
The disabled are God’s special children.
He is collecting money for the blind and the deaf.
The government should do something for the unemployed.


Note that ‘the blind’ means ‘all blind people’. Similarly, ‘the dead’ means ‘all dead people’. Note that expressions like ‘the dead’, ‘the deaf’ etc., are always plural and are followed by plural verbs.

These expressions cannot be used with a possessive ’s.

The problems of the unemployed should be properly addressed. (NOT The unemployed’s problems …)

In this structure adjectives are not normally used without the.

He provided the poor with food. (NOT He provided poor with food.)

Adjectives of Nationality

Some adjectives of nationality ending in –sh or –ch can be used after the without a following noun. Examples are: the Dutch, the English, the Spanish, the Irish, the Scottish, the British, the French etc.

Note that these expressions are always plural. The French means all French people. To talk about one person, for example, we say ‘a Frenchman’ or ‘a Frenchwoman’.

In some cases there are specific nouns to refer to the people of a particular nation. For example the Danish people are called the Danes. Similarly, the Turkish people are called the Turks. In cases where such nouns exist, these are preferred to expressions with the …ish.

The Danes are the happiest people in the world.