In Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary, there are example sentences as below for the adjective "missing".

(Sentence A) The book has two missing pages.

(Sentence B) The book has two pages missing.

I get right away that Sentence A is correct. And I also feel Sentence B is okay but I cannot explain the reason.

For instance, the sentence "This is a book good." is incorrect as the one-word-modifier "good" comes after the noun "a book" which it modifies. I know when the modifier consists of more than one word, it can be placed after the noun, as in "This is a book good to read." and this sentence is correct.

How does a one-word-modifier come after the noun it modifies and there is no problem in the sentence B?


2 Answers 2


The structure in the sentence below is described as have + an object + present participle in grammar books.

The book has two pages missing.

The lady has several people waiting. The children had many packages floating throught their imaginations.

The pattern also applies to get: To get the kettle boiling.

Whereas: |The book has two missing pages| shows missing used as an adjective in the usual position (pre-positioned).

  • Yeh, I agree to this too. Quite forgot about this piece of grammar. Dec 15, 2017 at 3:22
  • I still find this a bit odd here since "missing" is somewhat an action verb. It sounds as if "the two pages of the book were missing (something)" and not "the two pages were the ones that weren't in the book". Maybe it's slightly ambiguous whereas the "reduced clause" definitely tells us that "the two pages weren't in the book". Dec 15, 2017 at 11:44
  • @SovereignSun I am not going to argue this. For those of us who have taught English, it's as I have explained. But the main point is that it is also used with get. That makes two different verbs using it and traditionally these patterns with have and get are not called reduced clauses.
    – Lambie
    Dec 15, 2017 at 14:44

Well, the first sentence simply has an adjective that modifies the word "pages" - "The book has two missing (adjective) pages", whereas the second sentence may be a reduced relative clause - "The book has two pages (that are/which are) missing". (Can we use adjective after noun?)

There are also Postpositive adjectives which are commonly found together with superlative, attributive adjectives (Attributive and Predicative Adjectives):

  • the shortest route possible
  • the best hotel available
  • Can we distinguish between the reduced relative and the postpositive?
    – TimR
    Dec 14, 2017 at 13:46
  • 1
    This is not quite right. Sorry.
    – Lambie
    Dec 14, 2017 at 14:26
  • @Tᴚoɯɐuo I think it depends on the adjective. And like I said, postpositives are found together with superlative, attributive adjectives. Dec 15, 2017 at 3:19
  • @Lambie Whenever you write this I am waiting for a comment saying why or your own answer. Dec 15, 2017 at 3:20
  • 1
    @SovereignSun Perhaps you have not read my answer?
    – Lambie
    Dec 15, 2017 at 14:09

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