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Mercury is red.

Mercury is the color red.

Red is describing Mercury. What part of speech would color be?

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closed as not a real question by kiamlaluno, Matt Эллен, RegDwigнt Dec 19 '11 at 13:19

It's difficult to tell what is being asked here. This question is ambiguous, vague, incomplete, overly broad, or rhetorical and cannot be reasonably answered in its current form. For help clarifying this question so that it can be reopened, visit the help center.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Red is describing the color of Mercury. Mercury's color. Color is a noun. –  tenfour Dec 19 '11 at 12:33
Are you asking which part of speech is color, or red? –  kiamlaluno Dec 19 '11 at 12:45
The final sentence "What part of speech would color be?" seems to be pretty clear. I am editing the question to add quotes though. –  slim Dec 19 '11 at 13:02
Harsh to close it I think. By inference, the question is "I know 'color' is a noun, but here it is where an adjective should be, what's going on?" –  slim Dec 19 '11 at 13:53
Furthermore, it has an answer: "colour" and "red" are both nouns in apposition. See Apposition in wikipedia. –  Mark Beadles Dec 20 '11 at 2:17
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4 Answers 4

It's an odd sentence, which may not be strictly grammatical. However I would probably not find it jarring if I heard or read it, so it may be a common idiom.

"noun is noun" sentences are normally denote equality or set membership. "Obama is the president", "Rover is a dog", for example.

By that logic, the sentence is not true. "Mercury" is not "the colour red".

"Mercury is red" is a "noun is adjective" sentence. "David is hungry", "Madelyn is pretty".

The "the colour" part of the sentence could be seen as a clarifying clause: let us imagine that the adjective "red" is ambiguous. Perhaps the reader might think it means "communist". Perhaps we are speaking aloud and the listener might hear "Mercury is read".

So, we clarify by adding a clause saying "the colour".

  • "Mercury is red -- by which I mean the colour red."
  • "Mercury is red (the colour)"
  • "Mercury is the colour red"

Another way to look at this is to view "the colour red" as an adjectival phrase.

In "John is fond of animals", "fond of animals" is an adjectival phrase. "Fond" is the adjective and "of animals" is a clarification of the adjective.

In "Mercury is the colour red", "the colour red" is an adjectival phrase. "Red" is the adjective and "the colour" is a clarification of the adjective.

In all these forms "colour" is a noun, even though red is an adjective. The final form may be ungrammatical, but likely to be found acceptable in all but the most formal settings.

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@tenfour thanks for the edit. Silly me! –  slim Dec 19 '11 at 12:58
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The answer depends on which color you are referring to. The word color is used in the different sentences as different parts of speech.

The word color can be used both as a noun as well as an adjective.

'Mercury is the color red' should properly be one of the following:

Mercury's color is red.
Mercury is of the color red.
Mercury is red colored.
Mercury is colored red.

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Red can be both an adjective and a noun. All color words in English function this way.

As an adjective:

Mercury is a red metal.

The mercury solution is red.

As a noun:

Red is my favorite color.

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The OP asked about the word "color", not "red". –  tenfour Dec 19 '11 at 12:38
Yes, but the question is, what part of speech is the word "colour" in that sentence. –  slim Dec 19 '11 at 12:40
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Mercury is the colour red asserts that the two concepts are the same, which is clearly wrong, and only just avoids being nonsense. Mercury is coloured red may be what you are looking for, in which coloured is part of an adjectival phrase.

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