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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?

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  • Some previous discussion here.
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 18, 2016 at 16:06

1 Answer 1

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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."

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  • Postpositioning proper in this way reminds me of using a postpositioned -self/selves pronoun following a noun as an intensifier.
    – tchrist
    Oct 18, 2016 at 16:24
  • I don't recognise that, @tchrist: can you give an example?
    – Colin Fine
    Oct 18, 2016 at 17:37
  • @ColinFine I think tchrist may have been referring to a sentence such as "He picked the berries himself."
    – pyobum
    Feb 15, 2017 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, 2017 at 20:51
  • @ColinFine Ah, right!!
    – pyobum
    Feb 15, 2017 at 22:15

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