EU legislation is full of 'responsible officials' and 'responsible persons', 'responsible authorities' and the like (e.g.'at least one responsible person must be resident in Estonia' 'a responsible official body must carry out the checks), where 'responsible' means (I am quoting the ODO) 'Having an obligation to do something, or having control over or care for someone, as part of one’s job or role'. For me, and, it seems also for the ODO, which describes this meaning as 'predicative'as well as for Macmillan and Collins, responsible officials are those who are not irresponsible. In order to render the required meaning, responsible should be placed after the noun - or should it? If so, does the same distinction hold in the US? This question is clearly different from the previously answered question 'Why do some adjectives follow the nouns they modify'. It refers to a question concerning the meaning of a specific adjective depending on its position and the usage on both sides of the Atlantic. Neither of these questions are broached in the previous post.

  • 'Should' implies that there is a final arbiter in all things English. When dictionaries seem to differ, they are usually giving half the picture (eg a usage demanded by 88% of anglophones, but considered as just one possibility by the rest). If there is any possibility of ambiguity, it's best to rephrase (says me). But I wouldn't use 'an official body responsible must ...'. 'An official body must be set up to have responsibility for carrying out the checks ...' // 'A body already having responsibility for overseeing ... must carry out the checks'. Mar 7 '15 at 12:21
  • I think it all depends on whether we're able to deduce from context (let's say from the previous sentence or phrase) the exact responsibility that we're talking about. For example: Carrying out checks requires resources. The official body responsible must be able to handle the resources in the best possible way. Mar 7 '15 at 12:32
  • MacMillan in particular is quite categoric about it: "NEVER BEFORE A NOUN" (in capitals) Mar 7 '15 at 13:17
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    This question is about a specific adjective, and so any answer would need to elucidate the difference between the post-positive, attributive and predicative uses and the difference in meaning with regards to this particular adjective. A link to a post that merely explains that some adjectives have postpositive and attributive meanings that differ is not an answer to this question! I am voting to reopen for this reason! Mar 7 '15 at 14:26
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    Indeed, the previous question is only distantly related to this one. A little trigger-happy methinks. Mar 7 '15 at 16:27