What are the function (or grammar role) of the words here please:
A grammar question
A history teacher
Here, grammar and history are not adjectives but nouns. But I think in grammar they are called by some names and I forgot them.
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In your examples both words grammar and history are morfologically nouns, but if we were to evaluate the phrases syntactically, both nouns function as attributes.
According to the American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, definition #3, an attribute is:
- Grammar A word or phrase syntactically subordinate to another word or phrase that it modifies.
This said, an attribute, in other words, a modifier, can be an adjective, a noun, or a phrase that is usually placed before the noun it modifies.
English relies on word order, and doesn't have much in the way of declining or conjugation, and as a result, it's possible to take words that are normally one function and use them as another function, and the position of them in the sentence or the presence/absence of a determiner will allow that to work.
A grammar question
Grammar answers the question "what kind of question?"
Words that answer "what kind?" are almost always modifying nouns, and henceforth fulfilling an adjective function. Are they adjectives? Some words can only be adjectives, some words are more versatile.
It's not a complement because it is not a "parameter" - if something needs a complement, it doesn't change the meaning of the complement.
Take this, for example:
I hit the blue car.
The blue car is a complement to (specifically, an object of) the verb hit. Hit does not modify the blue car because the words "the blue car" have the same meaning whether or not hit is there. However, car and blue car have different meanings, so the blue modifies car.