Please answer my following question.

I think that "the+'adjective'" means "adjective people". For example, the young means young people.

Then, I have a question. Can I use two or more adjectives in the same situation?

For instance, does "the modern young" mean "young people in modern times"? Is it a correct grammatical usage?

  • 1
    I would say no. I can't give a grammatical reason. I can only say as a native speaker that it 'sounds wrong'. Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 13:51
  • 2
    I think (depending on the context of a full sentence), "modern young" could be fairly readily understood to mean today's young people. Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 13:52
  • 1
    Young Moderns was a set phrase in the 1960s. Modern Youth would sound better than "the modern young," but "the modern young" wouldn't be wrong. We often hear of the new rich or the far right.
    – jejorda2
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 13:53
  • 2
    We'd be more likely to refer to "the young today" instead of "the modern young"; don't ask me why, it just feels more felicitous.
    – Robusto
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 14:00
  • To reiterate what the other people said, it sounds awkward. You could always try "the modern youth", which to me sounds better.
    – MKII
    Commented Oct 7, 2015 at 14:35

1 Answer 1


The Internet Grammar of English, in its article on nominal adjectives, blithely says:

they can be modified by adjectives

(the gallant French

the unfortunate poor)

[the idle rich]

but, in line with comments above, I think that examples that don't sound at least faintly ridiculous (probably because pairing adjective with adjective-as-noun is incongruous) are few and far between. 'The modern young' sounds tongue-in-cheek at best.

This is probably less of a problem with nationalities, where the 'nouniness' of say the British, the Japanese is perhaps more firmly established. There is also the snowclone of the form 'blue is the new grey'.

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