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Suppose there is a web application with several webpages, amongst them one with the title "Receipts". In the user's manual of this web application or a similar place, are both "the Receipts page" and "the page Receipts" correct phrases, and if so, what subtle differences are there? What are the applicable rules?

My take (just to get you started):

The phrase "the page Receipts" works only if "Receipts" is the established proper name of the page as much as Bill is someone's name. The phrase "the Receipts page" is more flexible, allowing the page to have anything to do with the word Receipts, such as having the title "Receipts". Here I'm making a distinction between a page having a certain name (how you call it) vs a certain title (~first line).

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The names and titles of persons are distinguished--George Gordon, Lord Byron--but the name and title of a work are the same thing. –  StoneyB Mar 16 '13 at 0:57

1 Answer 1

I would never use the form "the page Receipts," except in the phrase "and henceforth, we shall call this page 'Receipts.'" (Tongue in cheek.) In English, the adjective almost always precedes the noun it modifies, and in this case the noun is "page," and Receipts is used adjectivally. (There are a few exceptions to this rule, "Team USA" being a common one. When this exception first started to come into use in the '80s, its sound was quite jarring to the English-speaking ear. It was used for effect, and to some extent still is.)

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In 'the page Receipts' 'Receipts is used appositively, not adjectivally: compare 'the play Hamlet', 'the film Citizen Kane', 'the novel Tristram Shandy'. –  StoneyB Mar 16 '13 at 1:01
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Actually, no. An appositive MUST be an optional descriptor. If the descriptor follows the noun but is REQUIRED to differentiate it from others, then it qualifies as an adjective. The technical difference between "My brother John" and "my brother, John" is that the former is an adjective and implies that I have more than one brother; the latter is an appositive and implies I have only one brother. You are correct that the phrase "the play Hamlet" is occasionally used, so I will modify my comment to make the distinction less absolute. –  jbeldock Mar 16 '13 at 1:20
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What's your source on this distinction? I've never encountered it, but perhaps the Junggrammatiker are redefining the term 'appositive'. Both Purdue OWL and Wikipedia specifically recognize both restrictive and non-restrictive appositives. –  StoneyB Mar 16 '13 at 1:48
    
I stand corrected. I've spent my entire life thinking that appositives could only be non-restrictive. I defer to your sources. Having said that, I still don't think the OP could reasonably call it the "Page Receipts." That's just too odd-sounding to my ear. I can't think of the last time I saw an APPOSITIONAL web page name. :-) –  jbeldock Mar 16 '13 at 1:51
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Apparently the Young Turks are redefining it! ... Actually, this use is not unusual in my shop, where we write websites, though I'll usually quote or italicize the name: "page Receipts, replace the second sentence of paragraph 3 with ... "; but my design and programming colleagues are less punctilious. –  StoneyB Mar 16 '13 at 1:58

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