In describing the African wild donkey or elephant, African is a noun functioning as an adjective, but is wild an adjective or a noun? Also, we cannot refer the noun African to animals, but can we say: The wild donkey is African or, The elephant is African?

1 Answer 1


African is not a noun, it's an adjective. So as wild.

you have to consider the order of adjectives; check the link:


  • 1
    But a person born and living in the continent Africa is an African, and that is a noun. One African, two Africans.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 14, 2018 at 8:00
  • There's a typo: so "as" wild
    – Mari-Lou A
    Feb 14, 2018 at 8:01
  • 1
    The typical order of adjectives is a red herring here. There's actually an important piece of information buried in the ordering. A "wild African elephant" is a member of the species Loxodonta africana or Loxodonta cyclotis which may come from or live in any country, so long as it's not in a zoo. An "African wild elephant" is an elephant of any species, such as the Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) living in the wild in Africa. The fact that these two sets are the same is little more than coincidence.
    – Chris H
    Feb 14, 2018 at 8:12
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    @HMac I think you meant to say "In this example African is not a noun, it's an adjective" Feb 14, 2018 at 8:49

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