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Why in some sentences noun comes before adjective ?

For example robot soccer instead of soccer robot.

closed as off-topic by Mr. Shiny and New 安宇, choster, Mari-Lou A, Margana, Chenmunka Aug 5 '15 at 11:21

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  • In robot soccer, robot is the adjective (technically: a noun acting as an adjective) and soccer is the noun. In soccer robot it's the other way around: soccer modifies robot. robot soccer is a game played by soccer robots. – Mr. Shiny and New 安宇 Aug 4 '15 at 16:26
  • However, you could ask about, say, trains leaving from "Number 2 platform" instead of "Platform Number 2", both of which are commonly heard, and where Number 2 modifies Platform in both forms. – Andrew Leach Aug 4 '15 at 16:28
  • @Andrew Leach♦ , Does it means that we can follow this way for every couples of adjectives and nouns? – Rwy5 Aug 4 '15 at 16:37
  • In English, adjectives can often behave like nouns, and nouns can often behave like adjectives. – Sawbones Aug 4 '15 at 16:39
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    The form of the questions pretty much guarantees that OP doesn't have a useful idea of what "sentence" means, nor what "noun" or "adjective" means. I think this ought to go to ELL. I doubt that a useful answer would be understood; there are too many erroneous assumptions to clear away first. – John Lawler Aug 4 '15 at 16:58
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Actually, the noun doesn't appear before the adjective in your sentences.

In robot soccer, the word robot is a noun which acts as an adjective for soccer. The phrase means soccer for robots.

If you compare this to the other phrase, soccer robot, you'll see that the same logic applies. The word soccer now acts as an adjective and modifies robot. The phrase now means a robot which plays soccer or a robot which is designed to play soccer.


The following does not apply to your examples, but could help you avoid further confusion on this subject in the future:

In more complex phrases, two nouns can follow each other and still both act as nouns. In that case, there is most likely a conjunction between them that has been ellipted:

I invented a type of soccer robots can play.

Here, both soccer and robots are nouns, but robots could play is a postmodifier for soccer. You can place a conjunction such as that or which in between them which here has been ellipted:

I invented a type of soccer that robots can play.

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