Adjectives as Nouns



Adjectives are often used as nouns. The specific cases are:

Ellipses of Noun Phrases:

Ellipsis is the shortening of a phrase. In this case, we specifically look at noun phrases. Adjectives can act as nouns and can be a subject, object, or complement in a sentence.

Lets us look at the following examples:

  • The old and the young were helped by this government policy.’
  • The rich are privileged.’

The rich’,  ‘the old’, and ‘the young’ are adjectives acting as nouns. The full noun phrases could be:

  • The old (men) and the young (children) were helped by this government policy.’
  • The rich (people) are privileged.’

In the examples illustrated above, the adjectives acting as nouns form a part of the subject.


  • The definite article ’the’ is combined with these adjectives so that they can be used as nouns.
  • These adjectives are always plural and take a plural verb.

Nouns Formed by Conversion

Adjectives can be used as proper nouns, common nouns, and abstract nouns. When a word is used as a different part of speech without introducing any change to the form of the original word it is known as conversion. Let us look at some examples:

  • ‘Mahatma Gandhi is his ideal.’ (Noun)

  • ‘The ideal king is expected to be wise and generous.’ (Adjective)

The above sentences make it clear how the same word can be used as a different part of speech.

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