I have seen the word "essential" used in a phrase such as:

The essential Shakespeare.

Is it also common to use the word "essential" in the following way?

The essential for any artists

to mean "a must-have for artists" in order to advertise a product for artists?

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    In the first usage, essential is an adjective. In the second, it is used as a noun (we call this nominalization.) It is idiomatic to use the plural the essentials and the singular artist in constructions like yours: The essentials for any artist. Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 20:52

2 Answers 2


The Essential Shakespeare

This particular use of "essential" is probably limited to titles of one sort or another. It goes along with other words like "Complete" and "Beginning" and "Bible" and various others:

"The Complete Chicken Cookbook"

"Beginning Python: From Novice to Professional"

"The Flavor Bible: The Essential Guide to Culinary Creativity, Based on the Wisdom of America's Most Imaginative Chefs"

All of these are real book titles (although not necessarily best-sellers). Anyway it's not a structure you'd use in a well-written sentence -- unless, of course, you're referring to the work with that title.


In the first case, essential is just an adjective near Shakespeare.

In the second case, the full sentence could be like:

The essential [thing, idea, tool...] for any artists...

Therefore, in this second case, essential behaves like a noun, absorbing the meaning of the missing word. If the noun would not be missing, essential would be a plain adjective, just like the one near Shakespeare.

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