If phrasal adjectives can be placed after nouns, what are some examples?

  • Is there some reason you think they should not be placed after nouns? "The noun is phrasal adjective" is a common construction. Or "The noun, phrasal adjective, verbed".
    – nnnnnn
    Feb 6, 2020 at 0:24
  • Please give some examples of what you feel to be "phrasal adjectives", because we can't tell whether you simply mean compound adjectives like well-known, or perhaps participial phrases (given a chance, changing the guard) or prepositional phrases (during class, behind you, in the bag, across the pond) then used as adjectival phrases (tired of the examples). Predicate adjectives (that dog is gigantic) are different from attributive adjectives used post-nominally (puppies galore).
    – tchrist
    Feb 6, 2020 at 2:04

2 Answers 2


There are a few situations where you can put a phrasal adjetcive directly behind a noun but they are only the cases where simple adjectives can be used in that way. The most common examples I can think of are to do with food and drink and describing the way in which the item is prepared.

For instance "I'd like a steak well done with chips please." is a perfectly acceptable alternative to "I'd like a well done steak with chips please" but "A car large black drew up to the kerb" is not an acceptable alternative to "A large black car drew up to the kerb". You will notice that the same applies to simple adjectives so we can say "I'd like a steak rare with chips please" or "I'd like a rare steak with chips please" and we can say "A black car drew up to the kerb" but "A car black drew up to the kerb" is so odd as to be incorrect.

You can put the phrasal adjective into parenthesis by using commas and say "A car, large and black, drew up to the kerb" but that is not quite the same thing.

In older English this reversal was more common and is it is sometimes used for effect, often when referring to historical or romantic subjects; you do sometimes see and hear things like "The king was held in a castle strong and secluded" but the more common and less picturesque version would be "The king was held in a strong, secluded castle".

In summary the answer is, yes it can be done but you have to be very careful how you use it unless you surround the adjective with commas to make it parenthetical.


Yes. You can almost always move an adjective phrase around by utilizing commas. You may also have to cut or add pronouns, sometimes to make the sentence grammatical, other times for style. Notice the different patterns in the two examples below (each with three variations of the same sentence).

His razor-sharp wit cut her like glass.

His wit was razor sharp; it cut her like glass.

His wit, razor sharp, cut her like glass.

Her tar-thick apprehension cast a shadow on the wall.

Her apprehension was tar thick--it cast a shadow on the wall.

Her apprehension, tar thick, cast a shadow on the wall.