I'm wondering if there is a name for the words that are both transitive verbs and adjectives. As in the example of the poetic phrase:

"hurt people hurt people"


"people who are hurt(adjective) will often hurt(verb) other people".

I suppose these would be classified as past participles that don't take a past tense form of the verb in question.

The main reason I'm asking is that I would like to find a list of words that fall into this category.

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    I cannot tell what you mean, because you have not described a closed set. Virtually any verb can do this. Do these all count? Wet babies wet themselves. Beat poets beat the road. Tired tantrums tired us. Grown boys have grown grown boys. Bear mothers bear bear cubs. No torn page has ever torn itself. They won't let let flats let to subletters. Hit men hit their targets. Who slit the slit slit? Split logs split themselves. Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.
    – tchrist
    Aug 15, 2021 at 23:11
  • Also this question has some relevance. english.stackexchange.com/questions/264236/…
    – Xanne
    Aug 16, 2021 at 0:20
  • I'm not sure I buy that hurt is an adjective in your particular example; I would call it a passive voice construction: People who are hurt [by other people] will often hurt other people. Aug 16, 2021 at 2:24
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    No, there are no special names for combinations of traditional parts of speech. In fact, the traditional parts of speech are no longer reliable. Aug 16, 2021 at 3:10
  • @TinfoilHat It does function as an adjective -- you can replace it with practically any other adjective, e.g. "Angry people hurt people". As the linked question points out, many adjectives are formed from the past participle of the verb that creates the state.
    – Barmar
    Aug 17, 2021 at 14:12

1 Answer 1


Are you looking to work only with irregular verbs like hurt? Here’s a list of irregular verbs in their base, past simple, and past participle forms: Irregular Verbs – Complete List (note that this is not really a complete list).

You’ll need to identify the ones that can function as adjectives. Those will be among ones that either have identical base, past simple, and past participle forms (for present and past constructions) or have the same past simple and past participle forms (for past constructions).

Of those, only a handful might work as adjectives.

Cut, hit, and hurt, for example, can work in the present and past:

Hurt people hurt people [everyday].
Hurt people hurt people [in the past].

A few more might work in the past:

Said people said, “people.”
Understood people understood people.

Assuming the nouns are allowed to be different, here are a few more:

Kept ladies kept secrets.
Lost people lost sleep.
Told tales told lies.

If you can use regular verbs, you have many more options, for example:

Abused people abused people.
Frightened horses frightened children.
Depressed patients depressed doctors.

You can also explore adjectives that are also verbs. For example:

Plump maids plump pillows.
Quiet people quiet people.
Stable boys stable horses.
Fat farmers fat calves.
Open minds open doors.

As for what these things are called, terminology and frameworks vary, but you can look into things like attributive verbs, verbal adjectives, deverbal adjectives, deadjectival verbs, zero derivation, and conversion. Warning: you’re going to be wading through a lot of papers.

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