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Despite having read every oversimplifying rule, I always have trouble telling which noun form is correct:

"Bus routes should be modified so as to avoid traffic jams" or "Buses routes should be modified so as to avoid traffic jams."

I've already referred to Swan and read some other discussions but I'm still not sure. Are both correct? I will appreciate grammar-based rather than intuitive answers.

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"Bus routes" is correct: the singular is used for adjectivalising.

Bus routes should be modified so as to avoid traffic jams.

Here "bus" functions as an adjective modifying "routes". (The sentence is about the modification of routes. What kind of routes? Bus routes.) And the simplest possible form of the noun - namely, the singular form - is the one used when forming an adjective from it.

"Buses routes" is incorrect; however, it would be correct with an extra apostrophe added:

Buses' routes should be modified so as to avoid traffic jams.

Here "buses" is a noun in the genitive case, acting as the possessor of the noun "routes". (The sentence is about the routes of buses. What should be done to them? They should be modified.)

  • 1
    The OP's question is about buses routes, not about *buses' routes". – user140086 Nov 19 '15 at 17:21
  • I can't be as much sure as you. We need to ask him. – user140086 Nov 19 '15 at 17:23
  • I meant the second option: routes used by different buses. Then, is "buses routes" -without genitive case- incorrect? – M-b Nov 19 '15 at 17:24
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    @M-b Yes, "buses routes" is incorrect. The simplest form of the noun - its singular form - is used for adjectivalising. – Rand al'Thor Nov 19 '15 at 17:41
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    Good that we clarified. +1 :) – user140086 Nov 19 '15 at 17:46

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