Sometimes a noun can describe another noun (ex. mountain bike), usually adjectives are used to describe a noun. But there is also a possibility to create an adjective from the noun.

What makes that sometimes it is valid to use a noun instead of adjective (even this which was derived from the noun) ? Why we say for example "golden bridge" instead of "gold bidge", what is the difference ?

  • Look here: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Noun_adjunct Good Luck. "Dawlish pub car park cliff plunge man rescued"
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 11:00
  • Welcome to ELU. Please see also English Language Learners.
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 11:00
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    A golden bridge would be painted gold, a gold one would be made of gold! Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 11:53
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    It is not "acting like an adjective". Using nouns attributively creates a compound noun, not an adjective plus a noun. The properties are entirely different.
    – tchrist
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 12:28
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    @tchrist - Unfortunately, there several different nomenclatures used for such situations, most obscuring rather than clarifying the sentence structure. Saying "acting like an adjective" is a perfectly valid way to explain it, and one that is far easier for the uninitiated to comprehend.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 17:22

1 Answer 1


It is called compound nouns (which is a compound noun itself), a compound variation that is open. Such a construct consists of one noun and an attributive noun or an adjective. In this case it would be: one noun and an attributive noun (which acts as if it was an adjective). Reference: https://www.thoughtco.com/what-is-attributive-noun-1689012 Did you mean: "Golden Gate Bridge"? In this case, it is a proper noun, based on the name of the bay "Golden Gate". Otherwise, and as mentioned before, "golden bridge" would be a bridge made of gold, partially made of gold or would have an appearance of gold to it. "Gold Bridge" might be a proper noun.

  • "Compound" can be a noun, an adjective, or a verb. Oxford
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 19, 2019 at 17:24
  • Thank you. It is a "compound noun" - not solely a "compound". It is not possible to use a verb in this type of word. Would be nice, if those who downvote, at least, left a comment.
    – Marc
    Commented May 16, 2019 at 14:45

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