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Is it wrong to use the phrase "The alive animal"?

Is it alright to say, "The animal was alive."?

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I have problems with adjectives preceding nouns and after linking verbs. Some can be used before nouns and after linking verbs such as high, hot... –  T.N May 28 '12 at 5:43
    
Most adjectives can be used both before nouns and after linking verbs. There are a few exceptions, which you just have to learn. –  Peter Shor May 28 '12 at 23:00
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2 Answers

The live animal

If you insist on using the word alive, then:
The animal, alive

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How about "The animal was alive"? –  T.N May 28 '12 at 5:45
    
"The animal was alive." is a sentence. "The live animal"/ "The animal, live" are phrases (parts of a sentence). It depends on how you want to use. Can you give us the context? –  Kris May 28 '12 at 5:48
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the live animal and the living animal. What's the difference? –  T.N May 28 '12 at 5:56
    
Living animal is not a proper phrase. An animal is a living thing -- something that lives, as opposed to, say, a stone that's a non-living thing. An animal that is alive is a live animal. –  Kris May 28 '12 at 5:59
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'Living animal' is a proper phrase, and according to Ngram used more than 'live animal' > books.google.com/ngrams/… –  Roaring Fish May 28 '12 at 6:58
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The animal was alive is a correct sentence. The alive animal is a noun phrase and therefore not a sentence, since at the very least it is missing a verb.

Having said that, I interpret the question as asking whether it is possible to place the adjective alive in front of a noun. In other words, can alive be used attributively? Most adjectives can be used both attributively (before the noun) and predicatively (following a copula such as the verbs to be, to seem, to look). So happy can be used both attributively and predicatively:

  • The happy child [played in the sand].
  • The child looked happy.

But some adjectives can only be used predicatively; they cannot be used attributively. Alive is one such adjective, so the alive animal is ungrammatical. There are many other non-attributive adjectives beginning with the letter a. For example, it is ungrammatical to say:

  • *the afraid child ..
  • *the asleep child ..
  • *the alone child ..

Other adjectives can only be used attributively; they cannot be used predicatively. For example:

  • my maiden aunt (*my aunt is maiden)
  • my sole pleasure (*my pleasure is sole).
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Really? I don't agree with this. "The dead animal is here, the alive animal is there." is a perfectly valid sentence in my book. –  Jez May 28 '12 at 8:35
    
@Jez I'm glad I'm not the only one! –  Matt Эллен May 28 '12 at 8:44
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@Jez, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (p559) lists alive in its group of "very clearly non-attributive adjectives", and denotes phrases such as an asleep child as "strongly ungrammatical". There is nothing to stop anyone using such adjectives attributively, but it is helpful for the non-native speakers on this site to know what authoritative grammars have to say on the issue. –  Shoe May 28 '12 at 8:58
    
@Jez, how about "There was an alive animal there"? Also, Shoe is right about "alive"; however, Huddleston and Pullum (the authors of Chapter 6 in the CGEL) argue that "expansion by modification or coordination can greatly improve the acceptability of the attributive use: compare *their awake children and their still awake children or *She flashed me an aware glance with the attested She flashed me an aware, amused glance" (p. 559). –  Alex B. May 28 '12 at 14:45
    
Is any of us concerned with whether the answers/ comments are helping the OP in some way? Or are we more about proving a point here? –  Kris May 30 '12 at 11:02
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