Some scientists (Jespersen, Kruisinga ) refer substantivation of adjectives to conversion. But most scientists disagree with them because in cases of substantivation of adjectives we have quite different changes in the language. Substantivation is the result of ellipsis (syntactical shortening) when a word combination with a semantically strong attribute loses its semantically weak noun (man, person etc), e.g. a grown-up person is shortened to a grown-up. In cases of perfect substantivization the attribute takes the paradigm of a countable noun, e.g. a criminal, criminals, a criminals (mistake), criminals (mistakes). Such words are used in a sentence in the same function as nouns, e.g. I am fond of musicals. (Musical comedies).

There are also two types of partly substantivized adjectives:

1. Having only the plural form and having the meaning of collective nouns, such as: sweets, news, empties, finals, greens,

2. Having only the singular form and are used with the definite article. They also have the meaning of collective nouns and denote a class, a nationality, a group of people, e.g. the rich, the English, the dead.


The problem whether adjectives can be formed by means of conversion from nouns is the subject of many discussions. In Modern English there are a lot of word combinations of the type , e.g. price rise, wage freeze, steel helmet, sand castle etc.

If the first component of such units is an adjective converted from a noun, combinations of this type are free word-groups typical of English (adjective + noun). This point of view is proved by O. Jespersen by the following facts:

Stone denotes some quality of the noun wall.

Stone stands before the word it modifies, as adjectives in the function of an attribute do in English.

Stone is used in the Singular though its meaning in most cases is plural, and adjectives in English have no plural form.

4. There are some cases when the first component is used in the Comparative or the Superlative degree, e.g. the bottomest end of the scale.

5. The first component can have an adverb which characterizes it, and adjectives are characterized by adverbs, e.g. a purely family gathering.

6. The first component can be used in the same syntactical function with a proper adjective to characterize the same noun, e.g. lonely bare stone houses.

7. After the first component the pronoun one can be used instead of a noun, e.g. I shall not put on a silk dress; I shall put on a cotton one.


  1. I. Look at the following sentences paying attention to the use of the degrees of comparison of adjectives and adverbs
  2. The Adjective. Degrees of comparison of adjectives as stylistic device
  3. The declension of OE adjectives

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If the lexical meaning of the root morpheme and the lexico-grammatical meaning of the stem coincide the word is primary, | However Henry Sweet and some other scientists say that these criteria are not characteristic of the majority of such units.

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