When you say "I'm 25" to mean that you're 25 years old, would you consider "25" a noun or an adjective?

  • 4
    Try to replace it with another noun and see where it gets you. – RegDwigнt Nov 28 '12 at 19:36
  • Various nouns and adjectives would make sense here. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 28 '12 at 20:09
  • @Edwin: please do name a noun. Just one. I'm curious. – RegDwigнt Nov 28 '12 at 20:17
  • @RD: I'm specifically asking about a number '25' here. And how can replacing '25' with another noun would get me anywhere?? Could you be more illustrative? – JK2 Nov 28 '12 at 20:17
  • @user: if something functions as a noun, it can be replaced with another noun. For example, in the previous sentence, if you think "functions" is a noun, you should be able to replace it with, say, "children" and have the result still be grammatical. But you can't, thus it's not a noun. You can replace it with a verb, though. Thus it functions as a verb. – RegDwigнt Nov 28 '12 at 20:22

Neither. Twenty-five is a numeral. In your example sentence, 25's syntactic role is that of a predicative.

  • So a number is not a noun? – JK2 Nov 28 '12 at 19:42
  • @user27275: According to the classification of words into parts of speech that I'm aware of, no – Armen Ծիրունյան Nov 28 '12 at 19:43
  • And something other than a noun or an adjective can be a predicative? – JK2 Nov 28 '12 at 19:44
  • @user27275: Apparently, yes – Armen Ծիրունյան Nov 28 '12 at 19:53
  • Predicate (and predicative) are logical terms; noun, adjective, verb, numeral are grammatical terms. Grammar has its own requirements, but a clause has to have a predicate, and the predicate may well be of almost any meaningful grammatical class. In English, anyway, word class isn't a very trustworthy guide to anything useful -- most words belong to several classes. – John Lawler Nov 28 '12 at 21:32

I wish Wikipedia would get their act together.

As well as claiming that numerals form a word class (in Armen's link) they claim that numerals form a subset of the determiner word class ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Determiner ):

A determiner is a word, phrase or affix that occurs together with a noun or noun phrase and serves to express the reference of that noun or noun phrase in the context. That is, a determiner may indicate whether the noun is referring to a definite or indefinite element of a class, to a closer or more distant element, to an element belonging to a specified person or thing, to a particular number or quantity, etc. Common kinds of determiners include definite and indefinite articles (like the English the and a[n]), demonstratives (like this and that), possessive determiners (like my and their), and quantifiers (like many, few and several). Most determiners have been traditionally classed along with adjectives, and this still occurs: for example, demonstrative and possessive determiners are sometimes described as demonstrative adjectives and possessive adjectives respectively. However, modern theorists of grammar prefer to distinguish determiners as a separate word class from adjectives, which are simple modifiers of nouns, expressing attributes of the thing referred to. ...

Types of determiners

Articles Demonstratives Possessives Quantifiers Numerals Distributives

[bolding mine]

  • Wikipedia, by definition, can't get its act together. As long as there are different opinions about grammar, they will be used to warp different chunks of Wikipedia in one direction or another. – John Lawler Nov 29 '12 at 1:22
  • Which is worse than boldly splitting to-infinitives. – Edwin Ashworth Nov 29 '12 at 20:41

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