Noun modifiers

Level: beginner

We often use two nouns together to show that one thing is a part of something else:

the village church
the car door
the kitchen window
the chair leg
my coat pocket

London residents

In these examples, the first noun is called a noun modifier.

Be careful!

We do not use a possessive form for these things. We do NOT talk about:

the car's door
the kitchen's window
the chair's leg

We can use noun modifiers to show what something is made of:

a gold watch
a leather purse
a metal box

We often use noun modifiers with nouns ending in –er

an office worker
a jewellery maker
a potato peeler

We use measurements, age or value as noun modifiers:

a thirty-kilogram suitcase
a two-minute rest
a five-thousand-euro platinum watch
a fifty-kilometre journey

We often use nouns ending in -ing as noun modifiers:

a shopping list     
a swimming lesson     
a walking holiday     
a washing machine

We often put two nouns together and readers/listeners have to work out what they mean:

an ice bucket
(= a bucket to keep ice in)

an ice cube
(= a cube made of ice)

an ice breaker
(= a ship which breaks ice)

the ice age
(= the time when much of the Earth was covered in ice)

Sometimes we find more than two nouns together:

London office workers
grammar practice exercises

Noun modifiers come after adjectives:

the old newspaper seller     
a tiring fifty-kilometre journey

Noun modifiers 1

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Noun modifiers 2

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Average: 4.6 (18 votes)

Submitted by cindyandcnd on Sat, 25/02/2023 - 08:27

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Hello, could you tell me which one is right?
a. The movie Coco
b. Coco movie

Hello cindyandcnd,

The first one is correct. 'The movie Coco is a story about a Mexican boy who discovers something about his family history'.

All the best,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by g-ssan on Wed, 13/07/2022 - 15:40

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Hi teachers ,

Can you tell me are modifiers an adjective and if not why they are in adjective topic ?.

Hi g-ssan,

Modifiers are typically adjectives (modifying nouns) or adverbs (modifying verbs, adjectives or other adverbs). All the modifiers on this page are nouns functioning grammatically as adjectives (because they modify another noun). That's why they've been included in the Adjective section.

I hope that helps to understand it.

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team