Is "in common" a noun? Some dictionaries say adjective, but some (Longman) have a 2nd definition for "in common" as a noun.

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    Could you provide that relevant excerpt, where "Longman" gives that definition, so we all can see what is going on? – F.E. May 7 '14 at 20:02

First of all, it's a phrase, so it can't be a single part of speech. I think what you mean to ask is "is it a noun phrase," meaning a phrase that functions as a noun. For example "The bewildered dog" is a noun phrase.

"In common" is a participle phrase, which essentially function as adjectives. A good test is to take a sentence with a proper noun or a pronoun and try to replace the noun with your phrase. If you can think of sentence that works, then you probably have a Noun Phrase. (You can do the same for other types of phrases).

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    "We have friends in common" matches pretty closely to "We have shared friends". Since the latter is clearly an adjectival usage, I think this is enough to show that the former must be so too. OP has simply misunderstood the implications of the fact that in this context, the single word "common" is essentially a noun. That doesn't mean the two-word phrase is also a noun. – FumbleFingers May 7 '14 at 19:39
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    Our friends are shared (in common) = Our friends are shared (among us) = We have friends shared (among us/in common) = We have friends that are shared (among us/in common) = We have shared friends = We have friends in common. – John Lawler May 7 '14 at 20:17
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    'A participle phrase is a phrase that begins with a participle e.g. "in the house." ' 'In' is a preposition, not a participle. – Edwin Ashworth May 7 '14 at 22:16
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    There are entirely too many grammatical terms that begin with P. It's easy to confuse polysyllabic terms. – John Lawler May 7 '14 at 22:22
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    They have many differences in common? – Edwin Ashworth May 8 '14 at 8:30

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