What are the differences in meaning between the followings?
- In society terms
- In terms of society
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It only takes a minute to sign up.Sign up to join this community
The general forms are either:
So in your case, since the adjective form of society is societal, we would have:
In societal terms.
Now we can also use a noun as an adjective, as you do with "In society terms".
Other answers and comments have suggested we wouldn't do so, but haven't explained why.
The reason, is that we while we can use nouns as adjectives, we generally don't, unless it gives us a benefit in some way (in particular, it often gives us a concise form where no adjective, or no well-known adjective, exists to serve).
Someone coming to express this idea might think of the adjective societal, or they might not.
If they didn't, they'd then likely use the "of society" form.
If they did, then they might decide that it being relatively rare, they should still use the "of society form".
Otherwise they'd use societal.
Your suggested "in society terms" is valid, and means the same thing as "in terms of society", but it's just not the phrasing we would normally expect. Most native speakers would be more likely to use one of the alternatives. If they did use "in society terms" they would also be likely to rephrase to one of the alternatives on revision, or have an editor make that change if it was in something that went through one.