She wanted pure cow milk.

In this sentence, is cow qualifying milk? If so, should there be a comma after pure to write two adjectives one after the other?
Or is cow also a noun here? If so, is this a case of two nouns being used consecutively?

  • 3
    In addition to Barrie's answer, I suggest you read about noun adjuncts, since that is what ‘cow’ is here. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 14 '13 at 12:54

When it describes a bovine quadruped, cow is always a noun, but nouns can be used to modify other nouns, and here the noun cow modifies the noun milk. Cow milk has to be seen as a lexical whole, which in turn is modified by the adjective pure. There is thus no more need for a comma after pure than there would be if cow was absent.

If, however, milk was modified by two adjectives, then they would be separated by a comma, as in pure, creamy milk.

| improve this answer | |
  • The phrase you want to look for is "noun compound". These are not "consecutive nouns"; they are unit noun phrases with specific meanings. There are many different kinds, frequently idiomatic, with quite different interpretations, like pony ride and snake bite. – John Lawler Sep 14 '13 at 15:19

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