The placeholder text in the title input box here reads:

What's your Islam question? Be specific.

Is that sentence grammatically correct? Islam being a noun.

  • Would you object to "What's your algebra question?" – GEdgar Dec 12 '13 at 19:23
  • @GEdgar Yes, I would. Until it's clarified why it can be. – Bleeding Fingers Dec 12 '13 at 19:26

Yes, nouns function attributively all the time in English:

  • This chicken soup is delicious.
  • I have a marriage problem.
  • He’s a football player.

Or even

  • Try this new dessert — it’s like a doughnut croissant.

This makes compound nouns out of the pair. Neither is an adjective.

This use of attributive nouns actually distinguishes English from many Romance languages. For example, in Spanish, you could not say What’s your Islam question? Rather, you would have to say What's your question about Islam?

In modern Romance, because case markers no longer exist on nouns, we normally use some preposition to separate the two nouns instead:

  • A football player is un jugador de fútbol.
  • An Islam question is una pregunta sobre Islam.

Although it’s far less common than in English, even in Spanish nouns can occasionally function attributively to modify another noun:

  • A police dog (those are both nouns) is un perro policía (and so are those).

In Latin, the word for the noun Islam would be marked in what’s called the genitive case to mark it for attribute use, as in Islamus > Islami. You could also sometimes use actual adjectives like Islamicus, or even prepositions like de or super with nominative forms as prevailed in modern Romance.

  • 2
    Or, if you like, "nouns function attributively all the time in English". – snailplane Dec 12 '13 at 19:33
  • Meaning "very often". – Edwin Ashworth Dec 12 '13 at 19:53

I suppose it could make sense if you thought about it. However, it would be phrased much better to just write “What is your question about Islam?”

  • 1
    Much better sounding. The other is pretty awful. – Lambie Mar 29 '20 at 16:48

Noun1 + noun2 is usually understood as “the noun2 associated with noun1”[1]. This differs semantically from noun1 about noun2[2].

Often, this can be very similar but there is a difference. The noun1 + noun2 gives a stronger bond, with “noun1” being the exclusive focus and/or subject.

Thus, “What's your Islam question?” is correct but (a) not idiomatic, (b) different from the more usual “What is your question about Islam?” and I think the latter is what is intended.

Thus an Islam question might be "Suni or Shi'ite - who follows the Prophet?" But a question about Islam might be "In islam, are there any circumstances in which one may eat non-halal food?"

[1]The beer news = the news associated with beer. For example “The price of beer increases.”

[2] The news about beer = The news that concerns beer. For example “A shortage of hops means that beer production will fall.” -> This is really “Hop news” that concerns beer.

  • "Islam question " and "beer news" are both correct and widely used in English. – DJClayworth Mar 29 '20 at 16:10

This is incorrect. Why? What is your religion is the right question. This just like asking What is your Christian? That does not make sense.

  • 2
    "What is you Islam question?" could be rewritten as "What is your question about Islam?". It's not asking what your religion is nor can it be equated with "What is your Christian?" – KillingTime Mar 29 '20 at 9:55

It is grammatically acceptable, but many English speakers will insist it isn't.

It comes down to the traditional usage of "American/ Asian/ English/ European correspondent/editor (eg)…" against the more modern, less intuitive but at the end of the day, more correct "America/ Asia/ England /Europe… "

Although traditionally it was used for "Editor who deals with America," strictly, "American editor" means "Editor who is American."

Similarly "Islamic question" might often be used for "Question which deals with Islam" but strictly, "Islamic question" means "Question which is Islamic".

The major problem is that the difference between "America" and "American" is a very great deal more obvious than that between "Islam" and "Islamic".

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