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.