I have an inkling that the following word usage is grammatically-correct; however, it is immensely difficult to search for confirmation, as all I receive for queries like "Proper as an adjective" are reams of results on "Proper adjectives". The word itself I am using as a postpositive adjective, similar in form to the phrase "time immemorial".

The shelter remains in name only; the shelter proper is in another town.

Work in theory remained, although operations proper had mostly been outsourced.

Can anyone advise?


Perfectly grammatical.

The OED, s.v. proper, a., definition 7.c, says:

c. Strictly or accurately so called; in the strict use of the word; genuine, real. In later use freq. as postmodifier.

The earliest example of this use that it quotes is 1807: "The earths proper do not unite with oxygen... Characters of the alkaline and proper earths."

  • Postpositioning proper in this way reminds me of using a postpositioned -self/selves pronoun following a noun as an intensifier. – tchrist Oct 18 '16 at 16:24
  • I don't recognise that, @tchrist: can you give an example? – Colin Fine Oct 18 '16 at 17:37
  • @ColinFine I think tchrist may have been referring to a sentence such as "He picked the berries himself." – pyobum Feb 15 '17 at 0:45
  • Thanks, @pyobum. I don't think that is what tchrist meant, but has led me to realise he is probably talking about phrases like "the house itself". – Colin Fine Feb 15 '17 at 20:51
  • @ColinFine Ah, right!! – pyobum Feb 15 '17 at 22:15

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