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I cannot differentiate the meanings of the two words. Could you please clarify?

In general, when should I use a noun (distribution) or an adjective (distributed) for verbs similar to distribute, like organize, create?

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closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, MετάEd, Andrew Leach, tchrist, Kristina Lopez May 5 '13 at 14:52

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Have you heard about our ELL Q&A? ell.stackexchange.com – Kris Feb 14 '13 at 6:06
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Distributed worker doesn't make a great deal of sense generally (although there may be some specific usage where it does), so let's change that noun to one which can easily be used in both phrases.

Distribution work
Distributed work

Distribution is an attributive noun, a noun used as an adjective to describe work. It means that the work is involved with distribution. The phrase doesn't say what is being distributed.

Distributed is a participle. While it too describes work, it describes what has been done to the work: it is the work which has been shared around, or distributed among a number of recipients.

The same constructions can be applied to other things, where an attributive noun describes the principal noun, and a participle describes what has been done to it:

Paint brush, a brush used for paint
Painted brush, a brush which has been painted

Paper ceiling, a ceiling made of paper
Papered ceiling, a ceiling covered with paper

Organization work, work to do with the organization [of something]
Organized work, work which has been organized into a particular pattern or structure

Creation work, work to do with creating something
Created work, something (like an artwork) which has been created

Thus a distributed worker is a worker who has been shared out. I can't imagine that the recipients of that worker would be very happy with being given body parts! One might have a distributed ‘worker process’ in computing, perhaps.

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Thanks! I'm now as clear as mud ! – Toan Nguyen Feb 20 '13 at 6:19
@ToanNguyen "distributed workerS" (plural) would make sense, it means you have many workers in different places. But "distributed worker" (single) doesn't make sense - because it would be one worker in many places (unless you had a nasty accident with a saw) – mgb Feb 20 '13 at 19:06
Hello there, Can you explain using V-ing as adjective like "distributing worker" vs "distribution worker" – Toan Nguyen Mar 1 '13 at 6:22
A distributing worker isn't a very common way of putting it. However a participle can behave as an adjective: "He is distributing [the mail]" -- it has a similar function to the word hairy in "He is hairy". Just as you can have a hairy worker, so you can have a distributing worker. – Andrew Leach Mar 1 '13 at 7:24

As the others have mentioned, a distribution worker is someone involved in, ahem, distribution, such as a lorry driver, whilst a distributed worker in the singular sense doesn't make sense, however distributed workers plural does and would imply a number of different workers spread across different locations.

Distribution workers could be considered distributed workers as they are all out doing they're deliveries in different places.

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'Distribution worker' means someone who works in that area. 'Distributed' is the past tense, meaning something (like papers) has been handed out to people. "Distributed worker' does not exist.

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worker is cited here only as an example. The question clearly relates to noun vs. adj. use. – Kris Feb 14 '13 at 6:05

A distribution network is a network that allows the distribution of your products.

The internet is a distributed network as the resources it uses are distributed over many networks.

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