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I checked the grammar: "promotional" is the description of tool, thus "promotional" tool is right while the first is wrong.

Is it true? Why are there so many cases that those two are exchangeable?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

If you said the words "promotion tool" to a native speaker of English, that person would probably think you were talking about some kind of tool used by Human Resources to assist in bumping some one up one or more job levels. That is because promotion is a noun.

Promotional, on the other hand, is an adjective meaning "of or relating to the publicizing of a product, organization, or venture so as to increasesales or public awareness."

Now, it is not exactly incorrect to say "promotion tool" to mean "promotional tool" — English uses nouns as adjectives all the time. It's just that in this case "promotional tool" is a very common term for what it describes, and most people use it. Promotion tool is seldom heard (I never heard it used till now) and sounds awkward and would certainly be confusing, as I mention above.

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"English uses nouns as adjectives all the time" Yep! As you know if you've ever seen cat food, farm machinery, punk musicians, peach baskets, silver spoons, or cotton fields. Both golden ring and gold ring are totally normal. –  Jason Orendorff Mar 14 '11 at 16:32
    
@Jason Orendorff: Just wanted to point out specifically that a golden ring is a ring that has a golden appearance. A gold ring is a ring that is made of gold. Although you didn't imply they were interchangeable, I thought some other readers might make that assumption. –  user11521 Aug 1 '11 at 2:04

The NOAD gives this definition of promotion (among others):

(often as modifier promotions) the activity or business of organizing such publicity or campaigns: she's the promotions manager for the museum.

It also defines promotional as

of or relating to the publicizing of a product, organization, or venture so as to increase sales or public awareness: she was on a promotional tour for her books.

I would understand promotion tool as referring to a tool used in the business of organizing publicity, and promotional tool as a tool related to publicizing a product.

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