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The query might return a list of selected items in a shopping cart, or posts in active forums threads, or whatever your web application needs to retrieve from your database.

active forums is functioning as an adjective here. It is obvious, of course. But what I can't get is why does it end in s making it plural? Could it be written like active forum threads? If so, what would the difference be? And I have certainly many times come across nouns ending in s used as adjectives but never really understood the reasons why there was a particular need to make them plural instead of leaving them in their singular form.

  • Active is an adjective. Forums is not. Active forums threads is a noun compound, composed of the two noun phrases active forums and threads, and meaning threads in/from/pertaining to active forums. – John Lawler Mar 23 '14 at 0:00
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There is no need for the plural. Most likely the writer thought the singular form, active forum threads, might be misinterpreted as active threads rather than threads in active forums. But the problem is easily solved with a hyphen: active-forum threads.

  • Yes. Very few plural nouns are used attributively. Sports club; customer services manager. Though some new usages can really upset some traditionalists: childrens clothing; working mens club. – Edwin Ashworth Mar 23 '14 at 19:08
  • Or even Sainsburys. – Terpsichore Mar 23 '14 at 19:22
  • And surely if there are threads that are active on a forum, then the forum itself is active. As such, there is no real ambiguity, hence the plural is indeed not needed (nor the hyphen), as you say. – nxx Mar 24 '14 at 14:17

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