I know that I can use both a noun and a participle as an adjective but what do I have to ask myself when choosing between them?

For instance:

Talking points, talk points

Information technology, informing technology

Review session, reviewing session

Is there a difference between the participle and noun when using them as an adjective?

I know the left hand side is more natural and are actual words, but is there a list of things to consider when making the choice?

  • This is almost a duplicate of a question I asked that did not get any terribly satisfying answers. I think there are basically no grammatical rules here. Both are possible; whichever one gets used and widely copied becomes the standard. Commented Aug 31, 2016 at 22:40

2 Answers 2


I would say this is a dictionary problem. If you tend to create your own word formations you have to consult the dictionary to see whether your formation is really what speakers have agreed on.

It would really be a study of its own to show the problems of this kind of word formation. I have only tried compound nouns with either noun or gerund as subelement. Actually you can't guess what is correct, work hours or working hours or both.

Google Ngrams shows both formations are possible. Link

  • If I were to choose between "work hours" and "working hours" I would use the first and avoid using "working hours". Maybe only in this context: "He was working hours at the processing machine." Commented Oct 31, 2016 at 10:42

Speaking of General English; certain standards exist and are being used world-wide.

"Talk point", "informing technology", and "reviewing session" - aren't standard. If you wish to use these you should consult grammar and logic. It also depends on the context in which you use them.

I can't provide you with credible sources that mention "talk point", "informing technology", and "reviewing session", but taking into account my knowledge of English I can only presume the meaning (the following are only a guess):

  • Talk point - Probably a stance in which you speak, or a period or an action that requires you to speak. It can also refer to a specific marker in an audio/video file that provides us with visual information.

  • Informing technology - A technology that informs. Personally, I'd use that in such examples:

    1 Social media technologies are the technologies of informing.

    2 Scientists are informing the technology with a new system.

  • Reviewing session - A session that is reviewing. I understand it as a review session that's been reviewed.

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