In the work I am writing, I am using “United States” for noun and “U.S.” for adjective. I was a bit confused whether the U.S. in the phrase U.S.-China trade is a noun or adjective. I didn’t get conclusive results from my Google search. Please help me with this.

  • The word is "U.S.-China"; asking about "U.S." on its own is like asking about the in they. – Tim Lymington Jul 1 '19 at 10:00
  • Isn't the term "The United States-China relationship" possible? – Arun Jul 1 '19 at 10:01
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    @TimLymington Are you being deliberately unhelpful, or just accidentally unhelpful? In any case, it's really not the same. The the in they is purely orthographical, "U.S.-China" is transparently formed from the words "U.S." + "China". – Chris H Jul 1 '19 at 10:08
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    @Chris H This gets back to a problem often encountered in linguistics: the fact that 'word' is ill-defined. How many words are there in the strings (1) particle board / (3) particleboard / (2) particle-board? You'll get recognised linguists who can't agree on the answers (apart from that to (3), hopefully), whilst agreeing with major dictionaries that all three spelling variants are legitimate. // That said, I'd agree that classing << Indo-China War >> with << Indo-China Peninsula >> ('see eg' ScienceDirect) is pushing it. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 1 '19 at 11:00

In the phrase "U.S.-China trade," U.S. is a noun: the trade is between the United States and China, two countries, each signified by a noun. If the style you're using, and it's a common one, is to use United States as a noun and U.S. as an adjective, then United States–China would be the style. However, U.S.-China is easier to read and say, and it is readily understood. If it's important to follow the style strictly, you could write, "trade between the United States and China," which is longer but, I think, sounds better than "United States–China."

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  • Just curious, does it come under attributive noun? – Arun Jul 2 '19 at 15:41
  • I'm not an expert on grammar terminology, but I'd say yes: it's a noun functioning as an adjective. – Literalman Jul 2 '19 at 17:27

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