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As we know, an adjective modifies a noun and sometimes a noun also modifies a noun and works as an adjective. But my question is, can an adjective or a noun be used in a plural form to modify a noun in English. I have asked this as I read it on a news website.

On the news website:

"These women will also look for younger men. And then you start seeing men in the streets fighting."

As per my opinion it should have been used:

"These women will also look for younger men. And then you start seeing men in the street fighting."

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1  
I think the issue here is simply the argument between using the singular "street" i.e. the proverbial/average street, versus the more literal "streets" i.e. the streets in which they were fighting. –  JMB Jun 25 at 11:48
    
Where's adjective? Understand this - I saw him in the room crying. :) room is a noun there and the verb crying refers to the man in the room. Am I missing something? –  Maulik V Jun 25 at 12:41
    
The phrase men in the streets here is not the plural of the idiom man in the street, if that's what you are confused about. The plural of man in the street would be men in the street. This news article is talking about men who happen to be in the streets of some city. –  Peter Shor Jun 25 at 17:50
    
Adjectives are never plural. –  snailplane Jun 25 at 18:27

2 Answers 2

up vote 7 down vote accepted

In your example, the sentence

These women will also look for younger men. And then you start seeing men in the streets fighting.

could be rephrased as:

These women will also look for younger men. And then you start seeing men fighting in the streets.

The word streets here is not being used as an 'adjectivized noun'. The writer does not want to stress that the men are engaged in 'street-fighting', he wants to say that a passer-by will start noticing fighting men now and then in the streets.

Had the author wanted to say what you thought he wanted, he would have written, for instance:

.. And then you start seeing men engaged in street fights.

A noun, when used in the adjective role, cannot assume the plural form. Some English nouns, however, look as if they are in the plural: news, athletics, although they are not really. Hence, we have a news reporter, an athletics coach - these may mislead a non-native speaker sometimes.

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Nominal or proper adjectives resist the plural ending to the point that when pluralized temporal phrases are used adjectivally, they lose the plural ending:

a three-day hike

a five-mile run

a 20 year-old woman

Also, sometimes plain adjectives are used to refer to people (plural), in which case they are definite and collective:

feeding the hungry

healing the sick

helping the poor

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