I've a doubt for using adjectives in front of nouns in regards dropping the "s"

I'm a translator (PT>EN) and sometimes the following examples pop out:

(single) Patient Chart / Patient's chart

(plural) Program Characteristics / Program's characteristics

I always see some of these without the "s" and my doubt is the correct usage of the "s"/possessive/etc.

Thank you very much.

  • Yes, I think it's more complex than the simple use of "s" for noun/plural cases. Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:39
  • 2
    Those are nouns, not adjectives.
    – tchrist
    Commented Nov 16, 2017 at 13:58

1 Answer 1


(single) Patient Chart / Patient's chart

The first is a compound noun derived from the nouns patient and chart. As such, primary stress is on the first part of the compound: "patient chart". The second is a NP (noun phrase) derived from the determiner patient's and the noun chart. As such, primary stress is on the last part of the NP: "patient's chart". The possessive determiner patient's is derived from the NP patient and the ending 's.

It would also be possible to have a compound noun derived from plural noun patients and noun chart: "patients chart".

(plural) Program Characteristics / Program's characteristics

The first is the plural of the compound noun program characteristic, with primary stress on program. The second is a plural NP with plurality marked by making the head noun characteristic plural by adding the ending s, program's is a determiner, and primary stress is on the last element of the NP: "program's characteristics".

There are no adjectives in your examples. Some people sometimes call the first noun of a compound noun "adjectival", but it isn't really an adjective. Adjectives are part of NPs, not compound nouns.

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