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

Are the following sentences correct grammatically?

1- The war had two hundred woundeds. (And not wounded soldiers)
2- There are two modals in that sentence. (And not modal verbs)

That is, can we add plural s to the adjectives?

share|improve this question
In effect, your question is, Can phrases such as "wounded soldiers" and "modal verbs" become truncated so that the original noun disappears and the surviving adjectival element is treated as a (pluralizable) noun instead? As Colin Fine says, the answer is yes it can happen—but it doesn't always happen, and the instances when it will it happen are not predictable. But it seems to me that adjectives-turned-plural-nouns of the form "actives" and "passives," for example. are more common than adjectives-turned-plural-nouns of the form "undecideds," though some instances of the latter do exist. – Sven Yargs Jan 20 at 16:57
Not in English, but in Spanish it's grammatically necessary. You would say "three reds cars", for example. (Or technically "three cars reds," because word order is different.) – Mason Wheeler Jan 20 at 19:20
@SvenYargs: To me no adjective gets plural ending. When it gets, that adjective is in its noun form at that situation. :) – franky Jan 20 at 20:49
@MasonWheeler: And in my language, Kurdish, the English sentence, "three red cars" will be "Three car red." :) – franky Jan 20 at 20:52
up vote 12 down vote accepted

No, adjectives in English do not take the plural ending.

Having said that, word categories are quite fluid in English, and some adjectives may be used as nouns, in which case (if they are count nouns) they will pluralise like any other noun.

"Modal" is an example, though only in technical use (linguistics and programming). General examples are "blonde" and "characteristic".

I don't know of any rules for determining which adjectives are used as nouns in this way: "wounded" is not so used, in my experience.

[There is another way in which adjectives get used as nouns, representing the mass of things or (usually) people to which the adjective applies: always with a determiner such as 'the' and never with plural ending, so it doesn't directly relate your question: "The poor, the old, the infirm". In that context "The wounded were many" is fine. ]

share|improve this answer
So, is the word modal a noun or an adjective or both of them? What about in my example, is it a noun? – franky Jan 20 at 12:17
As I said, it is a technical term, so ordinary dictionaries may well not list it. most English speakers will not even understand what it means as an adjective, let alone understand the noun. – Colin Fine Jan 20 at 12:29
The adjective used as noun creates a class, like "the quick and the dead", hence the inability to say "The two-hundred meek" because "meek" there is a class-noun not an instance-noun like "apple". We have to say "Two-hundred of the meek." – TRomano Jan 20 at 16:14
It is countable and normally needs a determiner. But I have just given you one example of a construction where countable nouns do not need determiners, ("husband and wife") and referred to another "He was elected president". I'm not sure whether this case is similar to one of those or is a third, different case; but my judgment as an English speaker is that "the adjective used as noun" is grammatical. – Colin Fine Jan 20 at 21:29
@franky: But the rules are not being broken :) As Colin Fine suggested with his "elected president" example, the noun following as is a so-called "bare role" noun. The complement of as can be a role. The situation with without is more complicated. – TRomano Jan 22 at 11:42

I'm not a native English speaker. But, what I help you best is introducing this link to you.


It says that "modal" can be a noun. Having searched on the Internet, yet, I haven't found any clue about "woundeds".

Have a nice English hunting. :)

share|improve this answer
This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post - you can always comment on your own posts, and once you have sufficient reputation you will be able to comment on any post. - From Review – cobaltduck Jan 20 at 16:42

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.