English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

The word used in that context should be gusto.
The used word is wrong.

Is it correct to place used after word? When should I use word used, and when used word?

share|improve this question
"The used word is wrong" doesn't sound quite right; perhaps because of the ambiguity between the meanings 'the word that was used' and 'the word worn out from over-use' – smirkingman Jan 26 '11 at 10:34
up vote 3 down vote accepted

In the first example, the word used is short for the word that was used, so used is a verb. In the second example, used is an adjective modifying word. In practice, there is very little difference between these, but you must use word used if you're going to qualify it with a reason or location.

For example:

The word used is wrong.

Is correct, but:

The used word in that context should be 'gusto'.

Is awkward, because you want to qualify used with in that context, so they should be together. The slightly changed meaning is more apparent with commas:

The used word, in that context, should be 'gusto'.

Which is understandable, but again, is rather awkward and would benefit from re-wording.

share|improve this answer
Is then the used word is wrong correct, or even acceptable? – kiamlaluno Jan 26 '11 at 10:38
+1 - However, the used word is not wrong - it is acceptable, if perhaps inadvisable for the contextual reasons you mention. – CJM Jan 26 '11 at 13:52
@kiamlaluno: The used word is wrong is correct. – Jon Purdy Jan 26 '11 at 17:36
@CJM: You're right. Edited a bit. – Jon Purdy Jan 26 '11 at 17:37

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.