Does the meaning of "unknown" change depending on whether it is used as a noun or an adjective?

  1. The cause is still unknown.
  2. The cause is still an unknown.

Although "unknown" is used as an example, I want to know in general how will people choose the noun form or adjective form

More example:

  1. You are pretty
  2. You are a pretty
  • 1
    To me, using an unknown connotes a thought process at a slightly higher level of abstraction- i.e., you are categorizing the "knowns", and the "unknowns" in a particular problem (there may be other categories as well- e.g., "assumptions") and you are saying that one of this problem's attributes, its cause, belongs to the set of "unknowns". On the other hand saying, "The cause is still unknown" is simply stating that nobody knows what caused it.
    – Jim
    May 19 '15 at 2:37
  • 1
    By the way, "pretty" is NOT used as a noun. You are a pretty." is incorrect usage. May 19 '15 at 6:15
  • @BrianHitchcock I can't agree to you. See dictionary.reference.com/browse/pretty May 20 '15 at 2:12
  • @Jim I would love to see your comment to be in the answer section because you are the only one that attempted to response to my question, although those are just your personal feeling. May 20 '15 at 2:15
  • @BrianHitchcock you commented below, wrong spot. And I dont know whats wrong with your browser, the site I quoted does have pretty as noun (see number 9.), try again next time. May 21 '15 at 3:50

Both refer to things that are not known.

unknown (adj.) - not known; not well-known; not famous
unknown (n) - a place, situation, or thing that you do not know about or understand; a person who is not famous or well-known; something that is not known or not yet discovered

  • Thanks. Sure I know they both mean the same, but I am asking in the way how you use them (noun or adj.) do they differ in meaning or how do they sound to the listener. May 20 '15 at 2:14

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