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My little sister was to identify the adjective in this sentence: "Mother painted the kitchen wall purple and green". I understand how kitchen can be an adjective as in kitchen sink, but I'm not sure if kitchen describes the wall.

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Follow our sister site ELL Q&A ell.stackexchange.com -- have fun! –  Kris Feb 27 '13 at 8:00
    
Yea, too primitive, man, see? –  theUg Feb 27 '13 at 8:52
    
What about purple and green? They're adjectives, arguably. –  John Lawler Feb 27 '13 at 15:56
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closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, Kris, Rory Alsop, tchrist, Kristina Lopez Feb 27 '13 at 14:17

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2 Answers

An adjective is any word in the English language which describes (provides more detail of) an object. Therefore, as the word "kitchen" in the provided example describes which wall mother will be painting, yes, it can be used as an adjective

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So because I can say, "The Vietnam war started during the Eisenhower presidency", it follows that "Vietnam" and "Eisenhower" are also adjectives? That's nuts. In fact, "Vietnam" and "Eisenhower" name very specific things, in this case one specific war and one specific presidency, just as nouns typically do. They aren't adding attributes or properties as adjectives do. The fill a slot an adjective can fill in the sentence, but they do something very different from what an adjective would do in that same slot. –  David Schwartz Mar 1 '13 at 14:52
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Yes, it can. Kitchen in both phrases, kitchen sink and kitchen wall functions the same way: it modifies the noun that follows -- all adjectives modify nouns. Kitchen is still a noun in both phrases, but because it functions as a noun that modifies another noun, it's sometimes called a nominal adjective. This is common in English. The same website calls them denominal adjectives. I've never seen that expression before, but it seems reasonable to me (and it's a terminological problem, not a grammatical problem, so I'm happy to change my terminology). A Word document on still another website calls them adjectival nouns.

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Adjectives don't have to come into it at all. English is full of noun compounds, like snake bite and pony ride; we make them up all the time. Anyway, adjectives are just another kind of noun; the Romans never talked about adjectives at all; they just treated them as nouns. –  John Lawler Feb 27 '13 at 0:39
    
A "kitchen wall" is not a wall that has the property of being "kitchen" as a "big wall" is a wall with an additional property or modification.Nouns in compound nouns don't modify the way adjectives do. You can't say "a very kitchen wall" like you can "a very big wall". Used this way, nouns actually identify things, as nouns do, rather than modify things, as adjectives do. The noun is not being used as an adjective here, it's being used in a way that is unique to nouns. –  David Schwartz Feb 27 '13 at 0:53
    
@John is of course right: this is a noun–noun compound, not an adjective–noun combo. These are rather annoying when you’re doing NLP, too. I seem to recall that they’re something that English has always (or long) supported, but that they had become much more common recently (like in the last century or two). –  tchrist Feb 27 '13 at 0:58
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@JohnLawler: It simply names which wall was painted. The Queen of Hearts painted the white roses red, but "Mother painted the kitchen wall purple and green": these sentences are functionally similar. Whatever function white performs, kitchen performs. The latter is still a noun, "kitchen wall" is still a compound noun, . In Chinese, adjectives are verbs. If kitchen had no function, it wouldn't need to be there to make the sentence clear (to preclude the need to ask the Q "Which wall?"). Maybe it's a preposed complement? It does "complete the meaning of a given expression". –  user21497 Feb 27 '13 at 4:14
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Why does it have to be given a different word when it modifies something? Why not just say it modifies or it's a predicate? Those are the two main functions of adjectives. –  John Lawler Feb 27 '13 at 4:38
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