I would like to know if the phrase: "Filter updates" means "updates of filters" or "updates of 1 filter". So can this phrase "Filter updates" be used in plural meaning, so to say? Instead of saying "updates of filters".


The term filter in the phrase filter updates is known as an adjectival noun or attributive noun. These are ordinary common nouns that are used as adjectives.

In general, attributive nouns are singular. In your example, filter updates means updates relating to or on filters. The term updates is plural in the example given, so it suggests there is more than one update, either multiples for a single filter or one or more updates to more than one filter.

Whether the updates affect a single filter or multiple filters, the term filter would remain singular, since it is used as an adjective and adjectives do not usually change form regardless of the number of the nouns they modify. In English (unlike many highly declined languages), we say large boats not larges boats.

  • Could it not be (to) filter updates? – Pureferret Apr 30 '14 at 18:09
  • @Pureferret It is possible for the phrase filter updates to mean filter [verb] updates [direct object]. However, the context of the question seems to clearly indicate an adjectival, not verbal, usage for filter. – bib Apr 30 '14 at 18:16

Yes, it seems perfectly acceptable.

Change it with any other noun and it should still work. e.g.

Breakfast updates

Could mean updates of breakfasts or updates of one breakfast.

  • Why I picked "breakfast" I do not know. Must be hungry. :) – Ronan Apr 30 '14 at 13:29
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    I was thinking of car repairs, maybe that is less meal-time dependant and I believe it is also a commonly used phrase :) – oerkelens Apr 30 '14 at 13:30
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    "Filter updates" automatically made me think of software updates, and separating them with filters. :) – Ronan Apr 30 '14 at 13:34
  • Have you heard of books shops? – Edwin Ashworth Apr 30 '14 at 13:35
  • Thank you, Ronan :) One more thing. Can you please explain me why is it so? Is there any rule that proves that both variants (sing. and pl.) of perception are possible in this case? – Dara Apr 30 '14 at 13:36

"Filter Updates" might also mean that you are to scan through all updates, and discard some and keep others. In this case Filter is a verb.

  • It could mean that, but the question indicates that this is not the sense. – Barmar May 1 '14 at 16:12

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