In general, 'the + adjective' and 'the + past participle' could be used instead of a plural noun phrase.

The good die young.

The damned will bury the dead.

I think in certain cases that structure could be used instead of a singular noun.

'The Good, The Bad and the Ugly'

I was not the hunter but the hunted. (the hunted one)

Also, the structure is sometimes used with a possessive or an indefinite article instead of 'the'.

An accused

A condemned

God's chosen

Three questions:

  1. Is this structure is ever used for non-humans?
  2. Is it ever used for non-living things?
  3. Is it ever used with a determiner other than 'the' when we don't have a past participle, but an adjective?
  1. Yes, it is used for non-humans, as in "the wolves prey upon the deer, watching for the young and the wounded".

  2. It can be used for non-living things: "He collected paintings, preferring the dour and the gilt-framed."

  3. I think not, as it would be impossible to tell the plural from the singular in this situation.

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  • That's right: adjectives never inflect for number, not even under ad hoc nominalization. "We serve anyone, both the fair and the foul." However, once it gains an independent sense as a substantive, then it inflects. Consider "the good, the bad, and the ugly"; those don't become plural just because one has several of each. Such things as goods exist but mean something else. Uglies and bads, not so much. – tchrist Jan 23 '15 at 22:12

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